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Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website where individuals (or groups of individuals) can pitch product ideas to the general public. The public is then able to "pledge" a monetary figure that becomes payable only when the project has reached its "goal", which is a set numerical figure of money that has been pledged.
To tempt members of the public, developers often have different "tiers" of financial sponsorship, with increasing rewards the further up you go in terms of money pledged.
Kickstarter, and other websites like it, have often been cited by critics as being far too easy to abuse. Once the goal of the project has been met, and development has begun, there is no obligation, legal or otherwise, to deliver a finished product, nor are the developers obligated to refund backers in the event that the project collapses.
In spite of this, it can be argued that projects funded through Kickstarter lower the financial barrier to development; at the same time, this can also lead to developers becoming too relaxed over the future success of their project. Previously, developers poured their own money into projects (or secured backing from a suitable entity who could supply funding, such as a publisher), and thus, there was a pressing need for a game to earn a suitable return on investment. For Kickstarter projects, this risk is mostly passed to the backers; although there is a risk of reputational damage for the developers of project for it failing, because there is no central database of individuals or companies concerned, it is possible that developers could start project after project, despite a poor track record.