Critical Role Critical Role show kickstarter update: Backers have to get Amazon prime to get the show

p_johnston

Explorer
The Legend of Vox Machina Kickstarter is in an odd place where none of the tiers to back got you the show. It mostly got you merch, or the show script, or such. The most actual show guaranteed was some high tier pledges ($1000+) could get you to specific premieres, but that was just for the show premiere.
I would say a reasonable assumption for someone backing the kickstarter, considering how CR distributes all their other shows, is that they were going to distribute it on their youtube channel or via twitch, which if they hadn't gotten the Amazon deal they almost certainly would have. A not reasonable assumption is that they are going to take the money to make a show and then resell the show to the same people who backed the kickstarter.

Let's just assume Amazon wasn't involved and they were just straight up selling the show on their own. 10 episodes at $10 and they forced everyone, including the backers, to pay to watch it. Regardless of whatever they promised on the kickstarter that would be seen as greedy and underhanded. I don't particularly see this as any different.

The most charitable read I can give it was that they were so excited by the idea of being able to produce more episodes and share more of the story in the show that they made a decision to take a deal that screwed over some kickstarter backers in order to be able to give the expanded show to their community at large (which is what I believe happened). Still not a kinda crappy decision but at least one where they had good intentions.

I will close by saying that I like CR. I like the cast of CR. By everything I have seen of them and every account I have heard they are genuinely good people who are doing their best to spread joy in the world. It's why I believe this decision came from good intentions. That doesn't mean I don't think it was the wrong decision. Even good people can screw up.
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The most charitable read I can give it was that they were so excited by the idea of being able to produce more episodes and share more of the story in the show that they made a decision to take a deal that screwed over some kickstarter backers in order to be able to give the expanded show to their community at large (which is what I believe happened). Still not a kinda crappy decision but at least one where they had good intentions.

I will close by saying that I like CR. I like the cast of CR. By everything I have seen of them and every account I have heard they are genuinely good people who are doing their best to spread joy in the world. It's why I believe this decision came from good intentions. That doesn't mean I don't think it was the wrong decision. Even good people can screw up.
I'm a Kickstarter backer, number 10040, and I don't feel like I was "screwed over."

I wasn't surprised to learn the project would be distributed via Amazon Prime. I was a little disappointed, because I'm not a fan of Amazon...but it's not like I was shocked or outraged. They were going to have to go with someone to handle the distribution and streaming, and they already had a working relationship with Amazon (who owns Twitch). It made sense. I don't like their decision, but that doesn't mean it was a mistake.
 

Bolares

Hero
To lay it out.
Fans back the kick starter enough to get 10 episodes. At this point their is an implicit promise that if the series gets made they can access it even if there is not an explicit one.
Amazon steps in to help fund a second season and distribute the episodes.
Critical Role says that backers will be able to access the series for free. This is an explicit promise.
The fulfill their promise by saying "hey you can get a free trial of amazon prime." Which is not fulfilling their promise. It is at best fulfilling the letter of the promise while ignoring the spirit. That is of course ignoring if anyone doesn't happen to qualify for the free trial (say they had canceled their amazon prime in the last 12 months).
This is basically all wrong.

1 - there is no such thing as an implicit promise. That's actually the opposite of what a promise is.
2 - What they did promise, in update 23 was that backers would get to watch 2 episodes for free and a little earlier, and they are fullfilling it.

People are so used for the "pre-order" style kickstarter campaigns that they don't understand how other projects work. This was never a project were you give them money and you get a copy of the series. You back them so they can produce a show, and get some swag for your pledge.
 


They are exploiting a loophole to be in the right.

Originally they would have been giving the entire show to the backers. But then Amazon came in and the show got bigger and a second season is on the way. So, now they don't have to give this new show to the backers, because its a different show then what was promised.

Its still a really naughty word thing to do, no matter how you cut it. Its disgusting that this is what they've chosen to do, and I think anyone that is ok with it simply doesn't respect the implicit trust there must exist between a backer and a project owner. The implicit trust here was that the backers would be given access to the fruits of the labors of the Kickstarter. They never said before that Amazon coming in, or any other business deal, would prevent the episodes from being seen directly by those who backed.

Is Critical Role in the right? Technically, yes. But anyone who respects that technicality over the promise implicitly made is really just making excuses for CR, and not speaking accurately of the situation IMO.
All of your rantings are based one a false premise: "the show" was never promised to the backers. Take a calming breath, man...
 

A masterclass of victim blaming.
Jesus, dude...didn't have any smaller change? We're not talking rape, assault, some such. Some folks who backed a KS so that CR can make an anime (which is exactly what happened) may (and kets face it: statistically some 75% + of affected backers will have an AP account already) have to sign up for a trial. To get to watch 2 / 24 episodes earlier. And a fraction of those are upset, because they didn't foresee this. Oh well...

(Disclaimer: I despise Amazon and will rather not watch this show than sign up. That's not the point)
 

So what's confusing me about this situation is, can't you own something on Amazon Video/Prime and watch it without being subscribed to Prime? I guess there's no simple way to provide ownership though - if this was a game and required Steam, the backers could be sent codes to register the game on Steam, but I don't think Amazon does anything like that, and trying to link huge numbers of people's KS accounts to their Amazon ones would probably be pretty non-trivial.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, here's my brief analysis-

(Full disclosure- I don't watch Critical Role, I have no interest in Vox Machina, and I was just curious about the controversy so I went and checked everything on the Kickstarter page)

1. The Campaign and Pledges are clear. I read them several times- at not point do they offer access to the show itself; just merchandise and various freebies/cool things (up to a tour of the studio and lunch with the cast, or the early access/red carpet thingie).

2. I can understand why some people might have been confused, because Critical Role (the mothership show) is a free YouTube show, and there have been other Kickstarters that explicitly gave people ownership over the media. But I want to restate this- there is nothing I could find that would indicate that anyone should have a reasonable belief, looking at the kickstarter, that this would be the case. It was clear, to me, that this was about getting goodies for fundraising.

3. I can also understand the annoyance of some people- there are those that don't like Amazon. I get that- if, for example, I had backed this and they had entered into a deal to stream this exclusively through Facebook, I would be angry (given my well-known belief that Facebook is the Bard of our time), because I would never join Facebook to watch this show, even on a trial basis. Unfortunately, that's life. I feel ya, I totally understand the unhappiness that you might be associated with Jeff Bezos's desire to send his genitals into space on the backs of the working class, but that has nothing to do with the Kickstarter.

4. In the end, I think that the only possible thing that could have been done differently is for them to have a very explicit disclaimer saying, "This Kickstarter is to help us make this! We are going to try and find a platform to stream it. Please look at the pledges and the rewards- this doesn't entitle you to any ownership of the show. Thanks!" But I doubt they thought that was a problem.


As a non-CR person, I would have loved to find a reason to knock them. But I can't. It's unfortunate, but I don't see them as having done anything wrong. IMO, YMMV.
 

Amrûnril

Adventurer
1 - there is no such thing as an implicit promise. That's actually the opposite of what a promise is.
2 - What they did promise, in update 23 was that backers would get to watch 2 episodes for free and a little earlier, and they are fullfilling it.

Update 23 said "Our lovely Kickstarter backers (hey, that’s YOU!) will still have an opportunity to watch the two-part special that kicks off the series before anyone else AND because you’re a backer, you'll be able to access the first season for free."

They absolutely followed through on the part pertaining to the special, but the access to the first season is really stretching the definition of free and is clearly not because of being a backer.
 





Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Update 23 said "Our lovely Kickstarter backers (hey, that’s YOU!) will still have an opportunity to watch the two-part special that kicks off the series before anyone else AND because you’re a backer, you'll be able to access the first season for free."

They absolutely followed through on the part pertaining to the special, but the access to the first season is really stretching the definition of free and is clearly not because of being a backer.

I read through all of that, but you have to put that in context.

Update 23 (which you quote) ... is the announcement that they would be putting it on Amazon Prime. Update 23 leads with:

Our friends at Amazon have partnered with us to broadcast Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina exclusively on Amazon Prime Video!

Now, that said ...

I read through the comments from two years ago posted after that update. It appears that almost everyone at the time interpreted that update to mean that backers would get the first season free regardless of Amazon status. A lot of people are there defending them and saying, "Hey, at least you get the first season without a paywall." Seriously, it's a giant wave of comments from backers saying that you'd only need Amazon to watch season 2 (which still made some people angry).

And I don't see anyone correcting that impression. Not a single person.* And that was two years ago.

So ... I still stand by my original analysis, but ... CR shouldn't have said that in Update 23, and when they saw how people were interpreting what they were saying, they should have immediately corrected that impression.

Now, if I had to guess (and this is a pure guess), I would say the following was likely to be what transpired-
1. They did the Kickstarter with the accurate pledges and goals, with the assumption that they'd shop it around and it would likely end up on a free platform (such as youtube, etc.) and they'd own the rights. In other words, they never considered the idea of a paywall originally.

2. When they originally announced the deal with Amazon, they assumed that they'd be able to provide the backers with access to the first season for free. Besides- now they get to make more! Everyone is happy! Yay!

3. Unfortunately, that's not how things work at places like Amazon; they want to be able to entice new subscribers. So when they realized that, they did the next-best thing and looked into how people could use a "free trial account" (which Amazon isn't going to mind, because at least some percentage of those people will end up keeping it, or at least forgetting to cancel the auto-renew).

I'm sure it would be interesting to know what happened between Update 23 and today... but the best lesson is whoever wrote that update should have been a LOT more careful, given that they arguably promised something that the original KS never did. Again, IMO, YMMV, etc.


*I don't have the time to read through all the comments and/or any additional clarifications- so if this was officially corrected immediately afterwards, then I stand corrected myself! :)
 

Which deal was that again? Just to get your point right...
Where they got enough for 10 episodes and said backers could see the first season for free. This was before Amazon signed on and increased it to 12 episodes and a second season.

Like I said, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. If anything, they just spoke too soon. =D
 

bennet

Explorer
Imagine if you gave up all your extra money to bring about the show, but have no access to Amazon Prime Video.

Finally the "we can do no wrong" critical role screwed up, chuckle.
 





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