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Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
03-14-2012, 10:09 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-14-2012, 10:11 PM by Slagathor.)
#1
Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
Hello all, a tl;dr will be included as I will probably be rambling about quite a bit.Big Grin

If you follow video game news, you've likely heard of Tim Schafer recently . He is responsible for the classics Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, Brutal Legend, and the Monkey Island games. That's all in the past, though, and I said "recently". Schafer was looking for a publisher to fund his newest idea: an old-fashioned Point-n'-click adventure game, and surprisingly no publishers thought the game would sell enough to be worth their funding. Feeling down but not out, Schafer turned to the gaming community itself to fund the game by utilizing Kickstarter. For those who don't know what that is, it is a website where people post their ideas that they would like to make real, not limited to games, and ask the community to fund their plans in exchange for the final product and likely some extra goodies.

Similarly but not nearly as well-known, Christian Allen (Rainbow 6, Ghost Recon, and Halo Reach are a few games he's done) is looking to fund a hardcore tactical shooter that breaks away from the "cinematic" approach to FPS today. Being similarly shafted by publishers (he reports that one publisher said gamers today are too dumb for such a game), he started a Kickstarter project.

Brian Fargo worked on Wasteland (1988), essentially the father of Fallout, and he started Interplay Productions which is the company responsible for Baldur's Gate. Looking to bring back the Baldur's Gate/Fallout1&2 style of game, he was also denied any publisher support. He's jumped on the Kickstarter bandwagon as well, looking to create Wasteland 2.

Schafer was looking to get $400,000 in 30 days and raised over three million dollars instead; Fargo has raised $775,000 with 33 more days to reach $900,000; and Allen has currently raised $38,000 of his $200,000 goal with 18 days to go.

Now that all of the facts are out of the way, here's the opinion part. I for one think that it's a great and amazing thing that developers are having such close interaction with their consumers. Of the three I mentioned, I am funding Christian Allen's game, and my contribution allows me to have a say on their closed development forums. If I paid more, I would be allowed to submit my own content, vote on current content, or take part in their conference calls to personally give them my opinion (that last one requires $1,000 or more though).

It may all sound kinda like alpha funding for games that was popularized by games such as Minecraft, but at this stage the game is in pre-production. The fact that the developers are being funded by the people means the game will be made for those people. This stands in contrast to pretty much any game from a big publisher these days, where the publisher tries to get as much money from a product (see Mass Effect 3...), suppresses any innovation the developers might try to make to the game fresh (*insert game series that you think is stale so I don't get anyone angry*), or change it so much it's not even the same game anymore (X-Com/Syndicate).

The way I see it, this is the start of a new era of games. Imagine all of the games that have been conceptualized but never made due to it being too strange and not enough like what we already have; I would bet Portal would not have gotten a green light at Activision. Two series come to mind: X-Com and Syndicate. X-Com was a wildly successful turn-based strategy game series from 1993-2001 that still sells today thanks to sites like GoG.com and others I'm sure. The next game in the sequel is going to be an FPS (published by 2k Games). Syndicate was another huge turn-based strategy game in the mid 90s, and it just got its sequel in February (published by EA) in the form of (you guessed it) an FPS.Dodgy I'm sure that at some point between both series' last big hit and their modern adaptations, somebody proposed the idea of releasing a proper sequel which was shut down by some publisher guy that simply didn't like the idea. This generation of games has seen publishers and developers taking less risks and focusing way too much on the financial aspect and less on interaction with the community that buys these games.

This possible new era gives the end consumer a way to say "I want this type of game, *insert evil publisher here*, and I'm going to get this type of game, darnit!" When I didn't buy CoD:MW3, Activision didn't notice because they were too busy going to the bank from the 6.5 million people who bought it on day one, and that's a whole other argument for a whole other thread, but I'll talk about that if somebody wants to discuss. Side note: Call of Duty isn't my cup of tea anymore, but I have nothing against the game. I do, however, have a burning hatred for Activision. Getting back to my point though, by supporting this new tactical shooter it does get a message through. While one person not buying their game goes unnoticed, these Kickstarter campaigns are getting a good amount of press, and when the publishers see how Christian Allen made the game they rejected entirely off of fan support, that does prove something. Tim Schafer raised 3 million dollars before the game was even in production, and if that doesn't give them a reality check/slap to the face I don't what would. My enthusiasm does have a cutoff point though. If I see Activision raising money for CoD8(9?) next year, I will probably lose all faith in this industry that I greatly care about. But at the same time I highly doubt that would happen.

Personally I think this means there is a much higher chance of seeing more innovation within the industry, and I hope it does push big publishers to take a risk for once. These are all just my thoughts on the matter, so if you feel like, I'm looking for some other opinions on any of the above material as I haven't heard many.

tl;dr Big-name developers can't get their ideas for games to pass with publishers for being a genre that they deem isn't popular this generation. What do you think about games being funded by consumers instead?
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03-14-2012, 10:18 PM, (This post was last modified: 03-14-2012, 10:20 PM by Phrosty.)
#2
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
I am of two minds about whats going on.

On one hand I think it is amazing that people can pull together and fund something they feel strongly about. It is awesome like you said that games that otherwise wouldn't have been made are going to be made. The people that actually have the money to be able to donate are the ones that want older games brought back. So its a fantastic way to do it.

On the other hand. I feel like this is going to spiral out of control. Now I don't know about the rules and terms that kickstarter has, but whats to stop somebody from taking the money and running. Or using the money in a way it was not intended. Like for example say somebody wants to raise 1 million for there game. Behind the scenes everything goes smoothly and the find out that it only cost them 700,000 to make it. What happens to the extra money? I also feel like this will spiral out of control, people that have the means to make there own game are going to try and milk the generosity of the people for all it's worth.

I see this going very wrong, I also see this going very right. Only time will tell.

edit - Like I said I have not looked too in depth at kickstarter so I don't know how this next sentence will sound lol. If people donate what the game would normally retail for, then they should get the game also. So if somebody donates 50 bucks, they should get the finished product.
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03-16-2012, 05:51 AM,
#3
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
(03-14-2012, 10:18 PM)Phrosty Wrote: I am of two minds about whats going on.

On one hand I think it is amazing that people can pull together and fund something they feel strongly about. It is awesome like you said that games that otherwise wouldn't have been made are going to be made. The people that actually have the money to be able to donate are the ones that want older games brought back. So its a fantastic way to do it.

On the other hand. I feel like this is going to spiral out of control. Now I don't know about the rules and terms that kickstarter has, but whats to stop somebody from taking the money and running. Or using the money in a way it was not intended. Like for example say somebody wants to raise 1 million for there game. Behind the scenes everything goes smoothly and the find out that it only cost them 700,000 to make it. What happens to the extra money? I also feel like this will spiral out of control, people that have the means to make there own game are going to try and milk the generosity of the people for all it's worth.

I see this going very wrong, I also see this going very right. Only time will tell.

edit - Like I said I have not looked too in depth at kickstarter so I don't know how this next sentence will sound lol. If people donate what the game would normally retail for, then they should get the game also. So if somebody donates 50 bucks, they should get the finished product.
They do, and mostly save money by funding it. If you go really wonky with the donation amount, the rewards will be immense, like alpha/beta preview, one month ahead of launch download, to getting to have a say in the game, etc. So, yeah, good idea.
More pew-pew, less QQ.
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03-16-2012, 08:40 AM,
#4
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
Lol, paying to be THAT guy in the conference. (You know, that annoying guy that has no clue about anything)

I wonder how they'll do the marketing...
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03-16-2012, 11:42 AM,
#5
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
(03-16-2012, 08:40 AM)Kaid Wrote: Lol, paying to be THAT guy in the conference. (You know, that annoying guy that has no clue about anything)

I wonder how they'll do the marketing...
The marketing starts right from the fundraiser. So many articles come up, people say "Oh, I just donated money for helping the development of this game", etc.
More pew-pew, less QQ.
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03-20-2012, 11:07 AM,
#6
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
That's what Psychonauts said. Oh wait ...
Word of mouth is only good while it lasts. I basically heard about that project 2 times. That's not a lot.

Don't underestimate real marketing. It's what made Apple big.
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03-22-2012, 12:58 PM,
#7
RE: Thoughts on Kickstarter Games
(03-20-2012, 11:07 AM)Kaid Wrote: That's what Psychonauts said. Oh wait ...
Word of mouth is only good while it lasts. I basically heard about that project 2 times. That's not a lot.

Don't underestimate real marketing. It's what made Apple big.
That, the FUD they spread, and their biased views Smile If ya know what I mean Wink
More pew-pew, less QQ.
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