Since the beginning of gaming history there have only been two ways for developers to fund the development of a game: deal with a publisher, or fund it themselves. As the price of HD quality graphics caused the budgets of games to balloon over the past decades, increasingly only the large publisher model has been able to support commercial game releases. As a result publishers gained a stranglehold on game genres; refusing to fund any genre they deemed out of date or unprofitable.
Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, both alums of Lucasarts during the graphical adventure heyday, had wanted to make a new game in that genre for years, but no publishers would bite. Because of that they turned to Kickstarter, a site designed to allow people to donate to projects that required any amount of funding. Essentially it allowed people to pre-purchase a game, although the game would only be made if enough people purchased it. Because of the genre's small fanbase and limited cross-over appeal Schafer figured they would be able to make a game if they reached a total investment of $400k, although he was dubious as to whether or not that was possible. The Kickstarter had broken $400k before the end of the first day and ended its 30 day run at over 3.3 million dollars.
Since then other developers have taken to using Kickstarter for similarly written-off game genres. A sequel to Wasteland, directed by Brian Fargo, director of the original Wasteland as well as Fallout and many other Black Isle games, reached its $1 million goal in less than two days and, as of this writing, sits at just under $2 million. A new Shadowrun game, directed by the creator of the license Jordan Weisman, has just been added to Kickstarter as of this writing, and looks to be well on the way to clearing its $400k goal.
Success with Kickstarter is not universal, however. All of these projects have had notable developers or licenses behind them. One project without any notable names attached, Takedown, a tactical shooter in the style of Rainbow Six, only barely cleared its $200k goal after a rename and a rewrite of the project statement. A Kickstarter to give the PSP game Class of Heroes 2 a deluxe physical special edition in the style of older Working Designs releases looks as if it will miss its $500k goal by a wide margin, due to a combination of unclear donation rewards, the mediocre quality of the game, and general apathy towards a physical PSP release in 2012. An RPG designed with the LGBT community in mind, Arkh Project, is collecting its donations piecemeal, and as of yet has only funded its concept art. It remains to be seen how much influence this donation/pre-buy model will have on the industry as a whole, especially for new franchises and genres.
Jane Jenson and Chris Jones both have new adventure games in the offering on Kickstarter, I believe. The big story really is the fan-supported return of commercially-thought-extinct genres.
Yeah I'd only found Jensen's projects (the Pinkerton Road project and the one she's only a consultant on) after writing this up. Here is another one that doesn't look like it's going to make it, but I don't want to jinx that.
Too bad Jane Jensen doesn't hold the Gabriel Knight IP; she says in her Kickstarter page that if her studio obtains success in selling their new games, it would make it easier for them to reacquire the IP. Gabriel Knight fans are waiting for GK4 for a long time now.
But hasn't there already been a point-and-click adventure revival in the last years with Sam & Max and several offerings from Germany?
I think it's a great concept. Developers don't lose a lot of money on a project that won't sell well enough, and neither a publisher nor a player will end up having "donated" money to a project that won't work out. For non-physical releases up to a certain degree of size/budget/involvement, that seems like a very good idea.
I'm not a big fan of pre-orders, I have maybe pre-ordered 2 games in my whole life. Usually I wait until a game has been on the market for a few months, the dust having settled, a few post-hype reviews posted, having heard comments about the game's quality from friends, or best of all having played a demo version of the finished product. But if I found a project on Kickstarter that I'm really, really sure I would like, I could definitely see myself pitching in.
Who's up for a Kickstarter for the Moby redesign?
...maybe a little.)
My biggest issue so far is that these games are almost in a pre-pre production stage. Most I've seen offer vague ideas about the game they're interested in making. Some, if their lucky, have a big name attached. Schafer and Gilbert seemed to have no idea what the game would be about, or like, or how it would play, you're just paying based on the name. And so that name, more than anything, defines if you think they will deliver.
I think the next round of these needs to have more to show, and more concrete ideas. Less of "we're not even going to start really thinking about it until we're fully funded."
Also, I'm waiting until some of the current round finishes before judging what I think of the idea. I want to see some of the results.
That would be a precondition. I haven't looked at any Kickstarter project yet so I didn't know, but I was under the assumption that unless there were some really concrete descriptions of the whole project and concept, and definitely at least some concept art if not a tech demo, you wouldn't (and shouldn't) get people to already pledge to support/buy it. After all, the idea is that it's going to be something that you would have bought anyway.
Of course simply a big name can be enough for that. Like pre-orders for Diablo III rolling in some, what, ten years before the game was even officially confirmed?
Wasteland 2 already has a bunch of design documents they've been working on for about a year, and it has secured the collaboration of Chris Avellone, who brings some tools related to "conversation tree mechanics and layouts"; plus, Brian Fargo also presented an interesting idea he calls "kicking it forward" (basically, developers are "agreeing that they will put 5% of their finished product profits back into other Kickstarter projects") --so I'd say at least this one has not only some pretty solid grounds, but might be the beginning of something really big.
I'm not convinced that it is in any way revolutionary that well-established veterans get funding. It's not as though the people getting millions of dollars in support are Ukrainian unknowns.
(Edited by Daniel Saner (2407), Apr 14, 2012)Re: The Kickstarter Revolution
Daniel Saner (2407), Apr 14, 2012
Игги Друге Wrote:
The new thing is not in that they get funding, but in where it's coming from. Instead of taking the publisher out of the equation completely, which is also an attractive opportunity in digital distribution for smaller projects, the Kickstarter way seems to be to just take the risk out of the investment for the publisher, by essentially lining up guaranteed orders. It's a neat idea to extend the idea of those fan petitions, which rarely amount to anything, by making it more tangible and binding.
Another Kickstarter project that I just stumbled upon is a remake of the original Leisure Suit Larry. They secured the rights to the title and got Al Lowe on board to write it.
-> Check this out (the video on top).
It's good proof that the video game industry is destroyed beyond all recognition that the publishers are afraid even of taking the "risk" of publishing a big-name title.
That's the point though, they're not big-name titles, are they? Ron Gilbert and Al Lowe might be famous around here, but 95%+ of the video game market does neither know them nor would they ever even consider buying an adventure game. I doubt that Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed are going to turn to crowd-sourced funding any time soon.
And I don't follow at all your conclusion of the business being destroyed. The kind of financial risk that publishing a game entails these days just never existed before, the stakes got higher and higher with increasing effort required to publish a suitable title. Leisure Suit Larry might have been big-budget once, but that was at a time when its ilk was the mainstream. They were the Call of Dutys of their day. Bottomline, this is not the publishing business of old going a different/worse way, but a new area that's emerging. It's filling the ever-widening gap between the self-financed hobby and startup projects, and the paid-upfront contract work for big publishers.
This one seemed really silly to me. I mean they already made an SCI remake of Larry 1, and if you can't play an SCI game then what the hell are you doing playing adventure games?
I also liked the comment that one of the guys on the 8-4 podcast had that Larry is basically the same as Duke Nukem. He just doesn't have a place in modern culture.
It's been said somewhere that they only got the license initially to remake the first game, and if that is successful and they get a profit out of it, further games are possible.
Similar to what the new Trilobyte is doing by the way, they stated that the sales of their 7th Guest re-releases and bonus materials will determine whether they will be able to create a new part in the series. I'm skeptical of that concept though. As a fan of the classics, and those are surely what this all is targetted at, I am not really interested in remade versions or ports of the originals to new systems, I'd rather just play the originals that I still have.
I don't think I really need a third Stauff game. Just let the Fat Man compose a soundtrack for a hypothetical third game and release that on its own.
Speaking of Kickstarter (quite skeptical about it I must say) I saw something that can be of interest regarding MG itself:
I was reading the rewards for the Shadowrun returns and I saw this at "Pledge $100 or more": "Previous rewards + A HARDCOVER EDITION of the Shadowrun Returns Anthology + your NAME IN THE CREDITS of the game AND the anthology book + a GOLD Doc Wagon card sent to your home. (Please add $15 for international shipping)"
As of now, there are 1280 + 2542 + 290 + 58 + 29 + 7 + 3 = 4209 people who have pledged $100 and will therefore have their names in the credits.
Good luck to whoever will fill the credits in the MG entry.
That's nothing, for Double Fine Adventure it will be more than 12000 names. Just hope we'll be able to copy paste them.
And now we can see what 3.3 million dollars (which is a larger budget than Full Throttle had!) can buy you.
Lain Crowley Wrote:
That video was originally posted on the backer forum. It was a rudimentary video made to experiment with the visual style they're aiming for and has nothing to do with the gameplay or content.
(Edited by Daniel Saner (2407), Apr 28, 2012)Re: The Kickstarter Revolution
Daniel Saner (2407), Apr 28, 2012
Yeah, people are throwing fits over the fact that a prototype or engine test out of pre-alpha, probably created within a week, and without the intention of representing any part of any game, doesn't look like a finished title. Who knew! These aren't freakin' videogame illiterates or freakin' software development illiterates, they're freakin' illiterates period. Seriously, if you'd shown them storyboard panels from the pre-production phase of Avatar, would they have concluded that that's what they spent all the $250M on?
For a more detailed analysis on the viability for less famous projects you can just browse the categories (http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/categories/video%20games?ref=sidebar) - seems to me most projects, even rather obscure ones, get their funding - though of course not all. Then again, for the three I had a closer look on, it is easy to tell why not. E.g. pledge 15$ and not even get a copy of the game seems to be a dealbreaker.
We'll see the next time John Cameron begs for money online.
This reminds me that I read somewhere about this guy who started a Kickstarter to buy Kickstarter! Funny indeed... especially if it would have turned out successful. :)
Now you all go here and pay a lot of money for Tex Murphy. It my personal wish for my 70000 points celebration.
Pledge $20,000 or more:
* Chris Jones will go to bed with you * Previous Reward Tiers included.
Shalom Everyone! I hope you've all had very blessed gaming days.
I'm really rooting for Tex Murphy. The video is amusing too.
There's also a Carmageddon kickstarter now, by the original developers of Carma 1 and 2. It was the first one where I genuinely thought about investing since I liked the games so much, but they'll have to do without me.
First, they're going to use Steamworks. Really? You go all independent and crowd-funding and fan-service on us, and then you go for Steamworks? I mean—really?. And in this day and age! To the people who want to spend money on this, it's like a big "Fuck you" where a "Thank you" would have been appropriate. I'm not having any of that, not even if and after the game got made.
Second, their disrespect of Carmageddon 3/TDR 2000. I loved the first two games, but I liked the third one too, it's not "worse" than the others. Yeah, I know that they think they're being funny and everything. But if that's how smug Stainless Games are these days, they're not getting my money. Then I'd rather prefer that TDR 2000 stay the lasting legacy of the Carmageddon series, if just to spite them.
I think I'll invest in Tex Murphy though. Can't ever have enough Noir. And that one's been a long time coming.
Man, you'd think that the minds behind Carmageddon would have more class, right?
*thumbs up for humor content of above post* :)
So, the Carmageddon revival is going to happen (97% funding with 11 days left to go), and I pitched in with $25 now after all...
They seem to have seen the light with regards to the Steamworks issue... $15 backers will receive a DRM-free copy of the PC version in addition to the Steam one (which in turn will have multiplayer). That's my only real complaint out the window. Also, GOG.com just announced they're going to release the original Carmageddon with Splat Pack soon, and everyone who backs the Kickstarter project with at least $25 will get a voucher to download it for free... so the additional $10 are already 100% compensated if you were going to get that, and you get Beta access too.
Has there been any Kickstarter video game released yet?
(Edited by Sciere (217835), May 22, 2012)Re: The Kickstarter Revolution
Sciere (217835), May 22, 2012
There's also a thin line between crowd funding and buying the game when it's still in alpha and then receive all the updates/further development.
(Edited by TotalAnarchy (2525), May 23, 2012)Re: The Kickstarter Revolution
TotalAnarchy (2525), May 23, 2012
4 games, huh...?