Update 4/6/2014: Felicia Day has pretty much addressed my concerns now. There’s little else to say. The YouTube Initiative is over and they’re not receiving any additional funding from Google. This is the sort of thing they should have started with, instead of saying they want to do things they wouldn’t be able to do. Transparency is a beautiful thing.
Last year’s TableTop Day was something of a revelation. It felt like a holiday created specifically for tabletop gamers. Not only were we getting mentions in the news, stores were catering to us by slashing prices and providing game space where there usually wouldn’t be any. I remember contacting my local Barnes & Noble store and getting tables reserved for my Meetup group. The store provided signs advertising our presence and even some games for us to demo. It was a great day.
Naturally, the gaming community started looking forward to the next TableTop Day. When would it be? The first announcement came stating that it would be held on April 5th “because of reasons!” When the day rolled around, there was a livestream on YouTube and an announcement that there would be a third season of TableTop. The big news, however, came in the form of a Indiegogo fundraiser for the season. The announced reasoning is for the production to be independent of YouTube/Google and do things they couldn’t normally do. Aside from “independent,” it’s pretty vague what the goal is. What is YouTube funding stopping them from doing that they so desperately want to do?
I’m a little put off by two things here: 1) The event was blatantly used as a fundraiser, 2) and the funds are being raised for an established company and an established property that are already making money. Crowdfunding is best suited for truly independent products that will never see the light of day without these funds. The Indiegogo page states that, regardless of the goal’s being met, the money raised will be used by Geek & Sundry. This means, season 3 will happen whether it is completely funded or not. This suggests to me that they will use YouTube funds for the show as a back-up but use the raised funds to add to the production. Either way, they will go through with making another season. This fundraiser gave them everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.
While I enjoy TableTop and love what it has done for exposure and awareness in the gaming community, I cannot bring myself to donate to the cause just yet. Aside from wanting to penny-pinch in preparation for a major move in my life, I don’t like the vagueness and lack of transparency about what exactly my donation will be used for. I appreciate the pie chart provided on the Indiegogo page that explains how the money will be distributed, but I want to know why it has to be an independent production for the third season. While I question this, I’m not going to discourage others from donating. It’s just not something I trust right now.
Right now people may be asking why I would support a project like the Veronica Mars films but not something like this. Both properties are held in some regard by me, so why potentially be hypocritical by writing a blog post about why I’m currently not supporting TableTop. It’s because they are two very different situations.
The Veronica Mars film had backing by Warner Bros. only insomuch that they would distribute the film if the funding could be raised. If the funding goal was not met, not only would Warner Bros. not be involved with it, but Kickstarter’s model meant that the film would not have been produced at all. This would have marked the absolute end for the live-action version of Veronica Mars. Meanwhile, TableTop will be moving forward regardless of pledging. They are in a good place financially and are risking absolutely nothing with this fundraiser. Contributing will not be helping them get something made. Something will be made anyway, and my contribution will only change how something will be made. And they won’t tell me exactly how it will be different.