Ransom Analysis Spaaace!

The second foray into game ransom was operated through, which put some different constraints on it, but at the same time offered one extremely attractive feature. The feature was that Fundable operates as an escrow account: If the complete amount wasn’t met, every contributor would get his or her money back, in full.

The constraints were: a shorter time frame (45 days instead of a year); a minimum donation, which I set at $10; and a maximum donation, calculated as four times the minimum (that is, $40). Contributors were allowed to donate in multiples of the minimum, so there were $10, $20, $30 and $40 donors.

$10 donors – 31, accounting for $310 of the amount.
$20 donors – 10, accounting for $200 of the amount.
$30 donors – 2, accounting for $60 of the amount.
$40 donors – 5, accounting for $200 of the amount.

Observation: There was overflow

I asked for $750 and got $770, and I’m keeping the extra twenty bucks unless the donor really complains. (Yes, Fundable provided me a list of donors, in order.) What happened, I suspect, is this: Fundable doesn’t list exactly how much remains, but only a general range, like “76-99%”. The last donor happened to be one of our $40 champions. Even though only $20 remained on the stated amount, there was no way for him to know that, so he overpaid. If he contacts me privately, I’ll refund him.

Observation: The short time span didn’t seem to hurt the process

Partly, I’m crediting this to good publicity from blogs, NPR, this website, and particularly the thread on RPG.NET that popped up while I was on vacation, got lots of hits, and coincided with a late surge of donations. On the other hand, the short time may have provoked a sense of urgency. Did it get some people off the fence, that feeling that time was slipping away and that if they didn’t act now, they might lose out? Hard to say. Certainly I wouldn’t want to compress the deadline much further, just because it takes time for word to circulate – even on the internet.

Observation: The donor pool grew, but not by much

Forty-one people contributed to the ransom for Meatbot Massacre. Forty-eight kicked in for …in Spaaace! I’d say it’s just about a wash. While MBM had nine people who donated after completion, no one has done that for …iS! yet. On the other hand, I haven’t been able to get the PayPal button on the front page of my site to work, either. Hard to draw conclusions.

Observation: The donations were far more egalitarian

With the MBM ransom, donations ranged from one dollar to a bit over $130. The Fundable framework severely boxed in that range, but it didn’t seem to matter. Even with the far ends of the bell curve chopped off, the workhorse middle is nearly unchanged, as the next fact demonstrates.

Observation: The average donation was almost the same

The avera ge donation to Meatbot Massacre was $15.00 when everyone was permitted to give as much or little as they wanted. With …inSpaaace!, where there were only four choices, the average donation was $16.00. While some people are always going to give more, it seems pretty apparent that the bulk of the work is being done by people in the $10-20 range, even though the games are very different in mechanical substance.


I don’t know what conclusions I’m going to draw from this. I’ve been inclined to ransom short works, with the expectation that people will keep their contributions smallish and, therefore, not be too disappointed if the result is merely good and not mind alteringly grand. But if the typical donation is $15.00, perhaps I should start pushing longer works – the kind of thing where I’d expect the people who pay fifteen bucks to feel they got their money’s worth. On the other hand, if there’s any indisputable result I’m pulling out of this, it’s as follows: “The value of a dollar is different depending on who’s spending it, and that’s twice as true for the value of Stolze writing.”



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