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5 crazy successful Kickstarters that didn’t live up to the hype

ouya console controller

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Kickstarter has been a platform for some amazing products, but, obviously, some have fallen flat. What exactly you need to create a successful Kickstarter depends on what you’re selling, but a compelling campaign, great incentives, and solid video are must-haves. Surprisingly, however, some Kickstarter projects have raised millions of dollars to produce products that have garnered less-than-stellar reviews. Below, we’ve rounded up several of most successful Kickstarters that just didn’t deliver in the end.

Yooka-Laylee — $2,680,738 in funding

Yooka-Laylee was a title created by Playtonic Games, the same talent behind the Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country games. The campaign brought in more than 73,000 backers and raised nearly $3 million, but once the title was released, it didn’t exactly live up to the hype. Although the visuals were charming and there were a variety of in-game activities, the actual concept was somewhat lackluster. The world design was unimaginative, and the automatic camera didn’t always sync up with the controls. Basically, it was non-progressive nostalgia and little more.

Read our full Yooka-Laylee review

PonoPlayer — $6,225,354 in funding

Neil Young was the brainchild — or at least the figurehead — behind the PonoPlayer, but even the rock icon and a team of world-renowned audio engineers couldn’t save the ambitious music player in the end. The device’s campaign received more than 18,000 backers, most of which were lured in by the promise of high-resolution audio and the accompanying sales platform, PonoMusic. A mere three years after the PonoPlayer came to market, however, PonoMusic shuddered, and Young released a statement in which he blamed the storefront’s downfall on “record companies who thought consumers should pay more for a better quality product.”

Ouya — $8,596,474 in funding

The Ouya was an inexpensive, Android-based video game console funded in 2012. When we reviewed the console upon its release a year later, we commended it for its sleek and attractive design, though we noted how it fell short in its technical execution. The menus and notification system were a mess, and despite its initial potential, cheap peripherals and a sheer lack of compelling games further cemented it as a bonafide dud that was less capable than most smartphones. The Ouya is still around — Razer bought the company in 2015 — but the system isn’t exactly selling as well as, say, the Nintendo Switch. Go figure.

Read our full Ouya review

The Coolest Cooler — $13,285,226 in funding

The Coolest Cooler raised more than 13 million in 2014. It was a portable party disguised as your standard ice chest, and as such, everyone threw money toward it. From the very start, however, there were issues. In 2016, it was announced that nearly two-thirds of the 62,642 backers had yet to receive their product, and the company said it needed an additional $97 from customers in order to fulfill the backlog of orders. The company has now reached a settlement with Oregon that gives it until 2020 to deliver the remaining 20,000 coolers, which, by most accounts, amount to little more than a blender-strapped boxes.

The Pebble — $10,266,845 in funding

The Pebble was a customizable watch that raised more than $10 million in 2012. We commended it upon its release, namely for its robust battery life and crisp LCD display, but it definitely had its faults. When Apple released the apt-titled Apple Watch in 2014, however, those quickly became apparent. Founder Eric Migicovsky sold Pebble’s software and intellectual property to Fitbit for less than $40 million, which meant that most of the backers for the Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core came up empty handed when the company shut down production. Fitbit’s support for the Pebble ended in June, but if you still want to use your Pebble device, Rebble is now the unofficial spinoff of the Pebble Platform. That’s something, right?

Read our full Pebble review

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Kailla Coomes
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kailla is a staff writer from Portland, Ore. She studied Journalism at the University of Oregon and graduated in 2014. In her…
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