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Will Kickstarter Launch a Gaming Renaissance? 170

Posted by timothy
from the pair-a-dimes-shift dept.
jfruh writes "Most gamers probably know that legendary game designer Tim Schafer turned to Kickstarter to help raise money a new adventure game; aiming for $400,000, he managed to raise more than $3 million. But you might not know that a host of other game projects are doing well on the crowdfunding site, with creators ranging from industry famous to unknown. By bypassing corporate funding and appealing directly to their audience, these developers are sparking a renaissance in quirky, personal games that probably wouldn't be backed by a big label looking for a sure-fire hit."
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Will Kickstarter Launch a Gaming Renaissance?

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  • Wasteland 2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@g3.14mail.com minus pi> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @01:56PM (#39613269) Homepage Journal

    I personally am really looking forward to see what comes out of the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter.

    • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:07PM (#39613303)
      You and me both. It's going to be a long year of waiting.
    • Re:Wasteland 2 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Niedi (1335165) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:08PM (#39613871)
      +1 here!

      However my personal favorite is Al Lowe's new/remade Leisure Suit Larry, although I'm not quite sure if it'll make its goal... I have quite fond memories for that series.
      But anyway, let's just see how many more old gems will get revived and how long it will take until the crappy ones start to creep in...
    • Re:Wasteland 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Sunday April 08, 2012 @05:54PM (#39614355)

      Really? Well then I guess that the answer is no, this will not launch a gaming Renaissance. So far in my scans of these posts, I have seen a sequel, a remake, people fixated on return on investment, and the established developers getting priority over new, unproven programmers.

      That sounds just like our existing games industry to me! The established industry still has an avenue for potentially unprofitable ideas. It's called indie developers.

      Also, the idea of giving money to games you want to see made is not new, as people do the same with pre-orders. Some people had Duke Nukem Forever on pre-order for a decade!

      • Re:Wasteland 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @08:35PM (#39615187)

        The pattern seems to be of remakes of and sequels to classic-style games from the 1990s, of a type which the mainstream games industry claims no longer has a market. The people with experience making such games have found a way around the traditional middlemen. I think there's room for this pattern to continue for five years or so, tapping the veins of creativity that were cut short by the consolidation of the gaming industry, before I'd start demanding completely-new titles (which may or may not be supportable through the Kickstarter model).

      • by Thing 1 (178996) on Monday April 09, 2012 @11:41AM (#39619337) Journal

        Some people had Duke Nukem Forever on pre-order for a decade!

        Fortunately, bought that trash in the bargain bin for $5, and wasn't even worth that. "Here's an etch-a-sketch interface, sign your name!" What total crap.

    • by Fallen Andy (795676) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:32AM (#39618677)
      Me too as a game player way back to the original "Colossal Cave" text adventure back on a PDP-11 mini computer c.a. 1978, *but*

      I do have a sad feeling that if only distinguished "ancients" like Brian Fargo can automagically hit their targets, get all their old friends from Black Isle/Interplay/Obsidian etc..

      then Kickstarter is a lying cake! ("it's who you know, not what you know"....)

      Disclaimer: was a programmer since the 80's do some teaching, want to scratch that indie game itch .... (watching Kickstarter and other indie sites like a *hawk* - seen some good and fine games - "Dungeons of Dredmor @ 5 "dollars" (i'm european)

      being a classic example of an indie game that's worth far far more...)

      Andy

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2012 @01:57PM (#39613271)

    But going straight down as soon as somes start to use it for shitty projects and still get the money.

    Just like present day.

  • by mseeger (40923) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @01:59PM (#39613281)

    I surely hope so..... at least i backed 4 projects in two weeks :-)

    P.S. I recommend a look here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mercenary-games/vigrior-maneuver-warfare [kickstarter.com]

    • by tfigment (2425764) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:12PM (#39613333)

      Pretty much same here different games probably. I've funded 6 games in past 3 weeks or so. 5 of those have already hit their targets. Shadowrun Returns, Wasteland 2 and the DFA game are run away successes I think in this phase. I don't think the 6th one will make its targets.

      I think it will be successful for well known but niche titles. I have very few problems giving my money to the original authors of the games as that is probably a safe bet. I have slightly more reservations with new content from unknowns or people who have only good mods in their pocket. But I have invested in both just to see if this spurs on new kinds of development but I'm not giving $15 or $1000 to just anybody as there are few guarantees here that the money will be well spent and I will see anything in return in 1-2 years.

      I don't care for the latest action game or multiplayer whatever. I'm far more interested in games with content and choices and a little back story not ones that accurately model the reloading behavior of the latest military firearms. Unfortunately we seem to be getting better graphics and animation and worse content as years go by. These kickstarters are showing that there is a market for older style games from decades past that are being updated for today's computers without having to sell your soul to the publisher in exchange for money.

      • by mseeger (40923) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:53PM (#39613517)

        Vigrior is having a hard time too. But i press my thumbs and try to do a bit of PR for them :-).

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:08PM (#39613875)

        1. Release a free version on iPhone or Android or Steam.

        2. Get name recognition.

        3. Go to Kickstarter and pitch your new game (or improved version of your original game).

        4. "Upgrade" your free game with quick ads pointing to your Kickstarter project.

    • by Expedite Game (2613271) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:34PM (#39615541)
      Also you can see an old school BOARD GAME. Check out. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/49100723/expedite-a-fast-paced-route-building-game-of-world [kickstarter.com]
  • Let's wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:02PM (#39613291) Homepage

    As somebody who put in money for Wasteland 2, I'm negative about Kickstarter. I'll even join the official backlash team.

    Let's wait until a single good game has been released under this model. Or really, a single good game has been released from somebody who doesn't already have a large fanbase and nostalgia helping him get attention.

    Furthermore, there's really no accountability under this whole scheme. What if the game released is totally amateurish? What if the developers just pocket half the money? What if the money ends up not being enough and the game is only half completed? What recourse do the "donators" have?

    System seems ripe for being abused...Leisure Suit Larry's kickstarter suggests the money is needed to make the game, glossing over that the game has already been under production for at least half a year. Presumably they already had the money, it doesn't mention where the donation's going.

    • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:07PM (#39613305) Homepage

      buy a consumer product. If you want to make an investment, make an investment.

      Kickstarter is not a store, nor is it a brokerage. It is a place to donate and support things you'd like to see happen. Don't send any money their way if you're hoping for some sort of guaranteed return. It's a kind of participation, activism, or expression, not a kind of transaction.

      • Wouldn't it be a good idea to, as a Kickstarter supporter, be paid back more if the specific project made lots of money?

        • by forand (530402) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:35PM (#39613435) Homepage

          What you are suggesting is called investing, not donation, it legally requires far more hurdles for a fledgling business to jump through to obtain. Furthermore, until the recent signing of the JOBS Act it was illegal for average people to make such investments within the US.

          While I would love to be able to invest directly with local businesses there is a real concern about fraud when dealing with hundreds of thousands of small investment options. The SEC, or anything like it, is incapable of ensuring a limited risk to fraud for investors. We are in the infancy of crowd funding and while I yearn for a well regulated and open marketplace to invest in local business I think it reasonable that we take it one step at a time and not rush into things.

          • by englishknnigits (1568303) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:26PM (#39613659)
            I agree with most of what you said but there is already a solution to handling high risk investments. Demand a high return. If the company can provide some evidence that the investment is lower risk (such as having a track record of success, submitting to regular external audits/reviews, etc.) then they don't have to offer as much compensation. I'm sure you will even see firms with the experience and the time to do some due diligence and suggest/handle crowd funding investments for a fee/%. People are finally being freed from stocks and real estate being their only investment options. There will certainly be more fraud and more people putting money where they can't afford to lose it but there will also be people who are more diversified and not losing all their hard earned savings to inflation and the whims of wall street.
          • by wmbetts (1306001) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:31PM (#39613973)

            It would be illegal for them to call it an investment, but what would happen if they just decided to give them money? For example, thanks for helping me when I needed it so here's some cash to say thank you. If I made a bunch of money from something that started on kickstarter I'd feel it was appropriate to do something for them. I'd feel pretty shitty about myself if I didn't.

          • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @08:23PM (#39615113) Journal

            Kickstarter is not about donation OR investing.

            It's about funding. You get something in return for your pledge. Most games on kickstarter offer the game at one of the funding levels, and swag or recognition at other levels. Many, things on kickstarter, I think, have poorly thought returns for lower funding levels (a complete game for $1? But it's supposedly going to be "worth" $40 when you finish it???)

            Some of the returns are similar to donation prizes, but really, it's a place where you can say, by sending money, that this is a product that I want to be made. And the risk is lessened somewhat in that if the funding level isn't achieved, you don't end up spending the money, but not entirely in that you could end up getting something that's not worth the funding you provided.

      • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:06PM (#39613585)

        No, it's not. They have levels that you can buy into for each of the different products. For example Diaspora [kickstarter.com] promised everyone that donated $5 "Once the software is released as open source, we will send you a CD with diaspora all set up and ready to go, with a note from our team!". I don't think anyone has gotten that.

        It's even worse on the hardware side of things. So far I've backed 4 things in the last year and physically have 1 of them. Anywhere from "Sorry guys my supplier changed all my quotes" to "I just wanted to add ONE more feature." The one that I got actually showed up a week after the kickstarter ended. I got the Oblique [kickstarter.com] wine bottle holder. The guy had a manufacturer (in the US) already set up. He had prototypes done and I wouldn't be surprised if the second he saw another order he had another 2 made. This guy actually knew what he was doing.

        Look at the HexBright [kickstarter.com]. I really debated getting it and just going with the prime because as the description says I conceived the HexBright Flex but I was tapped out of cash to actually make one. Kickstarter became an obvious solution. To raise capital I am offering reproductions of my original and first-made HexBright Prime for just $35. As that's worded you get something that's already been made. As far as I can tell no one has gotten anything yet.

        If you want this to be a donation to fund further development. Flat out say that. There are projects that do that. But all the projects I've bought into have been pitched as "Guys I've been working really hard on this and I'm ready to show it to the world taking pre orders so I can get 5000 from China." And then all this money shows up and he decides continue engineering.

        I'm starting to see why MBAs are needed. Everyone that has a project on there is an engineer of some sort and unless everything is 110% perfect they push the release date.

        • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:57PM (#39613803)
          As a fellow HexBright sponsor, I'd like to point out that they never claimed that it was already made. On the FAQs:

          When will you ship?

          Short answer- as soon as we can. Long answer- HexBright is not a product already on the shelf ready to be shipped. You are funding development of a top quality product where almost all your money is going into the parts and materials with almost no overhead, marketing or middlemen costs (we are projecting future retail prices to be over $100). As the saying goes, "CHEAP, FAST, GOOD, pick any two". Our price is fixed so we are choosing between "fast" and "good". Good wins every time.

          When I sponsored the project, I wasn't expecting to see it turn up until about summer this year. They've provided several updates, so I'm pretty sure you'll end up with what you've paid for.

        • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:02PM (#39613833)
          I should mention the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22092473/the-dream-quest-of-unknown-kadath-and-other-storie?ref=live [kickstarter.com] as being an unexpectedly well produced book. I'm a big HPL fan, so I wanted to sponsor it, but I was surprised at just how well made/written/drawn it is.
        • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @08:46PM (#39615257)

          I don't know if MBAs are needed, but some common business sense may be applicable.

          As it is, nearly every project I have backed has run late - anywhere from 2 weeks to 7 months and counting.
          But projects running late is pretty much par for the course everywhere (and if not running late, then almost certainly over budget or underperforming).

          I think backers need to have a bit of common sense as well, though.
          The HexBright project is a good example. It's running late and yes the guy continued the engineering process even after the project was funded. Then again, the project itself was billed as the "HexBright - Open Source Light" and it was clear from the beginning that while some of the basics were laid down (choice of LED, body shape), there was plenty left to do especially on the Flex (programmable variant). In that case, I think it's actually great that he got a bunch of feedback from backers and even adjusted designs to suit.
          Those who only backed the project in order to get a cheap, bright flashlight (and thus couldn't care less about it being programmable or open source) may well be dismayed, and I can see where they're coming from - but it's been said before and KickStarter would do well to stress it more: KickStarter is not a store.

          That's not to say that project creators should be allowed to get away with just anything, though.
          The Juicies project is looking like people want to see blood, literally.
          The Hanfree project is looking like it may even see legal action against it; a backer who is a lawyer believes its failure after successful funding to be a breach of contract between the backer and the creator.

          But at some point things will meet in the middle... backers will get a greater realization that they're basically just throwing money at something and hoping for the best, and project creators will realize that at some point they'll have to deliver or they just might be unlucky enough to face the consequences.

          We're kind of off-topic from the main question re: games and KickStarter, I guess, so a small bit about that here...
          KickStarter has always seen game projects, some successful, some not so successful. Yes, the recent Double Fine Adventure success spurred a lot more game devs to jump on the bandwagon, and some are even getting a good deal out of it. I don't think it will lead to any sort of fundamental change in game development, though - no more than the Humble Bundles did. It's just another option out there for both developers and their target audience.

          If anything, I think it'll show some indie devs that they may not have to wing it; they can get crowdfunding. In which case - as long as they can do their PR well, as they'll lose the by-association that KickStarter projects enjoy - they might as well go with e.g. 8bitfunding.com or roll their own crowdfunding webpage ( there's a wordpress plugin that makes this easy, for example ).

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @09:43PM (#39615589)

        When you pay for something before your receive the goods, you take a risk. You may never get them, they may not be what you want, etc. If you aren't ok with that risk that's totally fine, don't do it. However don't cry about it. Some people are fine with the risk.

        Same shit with stocks vs CDs or the like in investing. If you have no risk tolerance, you place your money in savings accounts, CDs, and other instruments that have guarantees of value. They are as safe as you can get. However if you have more risk tolerance, maybe you buy stocks. Yes, with a stock you can lose all your money, however you stand to make more returns too. It is higher risk. It is up to you to decide if the risk is acceptable.

        So if you are a person who is totally risk averse, don't use Kickstarter. I 100% respect that decision. However don't then bitch and cry about it as though everyone should be as risk averse as you. Those of us who use it know what we are getting in to. I decide how much to go in for in part based on how much I'm willing to lose. I know I could be out that money, so I make sure it is an amount I'm ok with.

        Also you'd better not preorder other games, because if you are ok with that but not Kickstarter, then you are being silly. Kickstarter is just preordering on a longer timescale. You can preorder a regular game and get nice n' screwed too. Like Brink. Man what a piece of shit. I'd like my $50 back and the time I wasted on it. I preordered it based on the materials they put out. I thought it looked like a really cool idea and a group of my friends were getting it so we could all play together. It didn't live up to its promise though, in any way shape or form.

        However, nothing that can be done. I spent the money, that is life. I took a risk, and it didn't pay off. So it goes. It was a risk I could afford though, so no big deal. That $50 wasn't $50 I took out of my mortgage payment or something, it was $50 for entertainment. I didn't get a good ROI, but there you go.

        Same shit with Kickstarter. You look at a project, decide if you'd like to see that developed, and then see if you think the people behind it have what it takes. If so, you decide how much you can put towards it, understanding the money may be sunk, and then go for it (or don't, if you decide it isn't worth it).

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:16AM (#39618503) Homepage Journal

        buy a consumer product. If you want to make an investment, make an investment.

        Kickstarter is not a store, nor is it a brokerage. It is a place to donate and support things you'd like to see happen. Don't send any money their way if you're hoping for some sort of guaranteed return. It's a kind of participation, activism, or expression, not a kind of transaction.

        Seeing as how (at least based on the evidence at hand) none of these outfits are operating as a true not-for-profit (some may operate without profit but that is something else entirely) then the word "donation" is NOT appropriate here. The word you are looking for is "snakeoil". They are selling (that is what you need to call it unless you are explicitly not operating with the intent to make a profit) a specific good (the promise of something magical and wonderful at some point in the future) and their customers have every reason to expect something in return (given that this is the whole premise of crowdsourcing.) Your attitude that "oh well its just a donation so if it's wasted or stolen who cares?" is the exact one that will lead crowdsourcing and outfits like Kickstarter straight to the shitter. There will be waste, and corruption, and outright lies; just thinking happy thoughts of "activism" will NOT save you. Don't get me wrong, the idea of crowdsourcing and Kickstarter is fantastic and if it's done right it can be very powerful and positive. But the same was said about Communism 100 years ago. You have been warned.

    • Re:Let's wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:11PM (#39613329)
      Well right now we're seeing many popular projects from people who are industry veterans going back 20-25 years. These are people with established reputations as being able to manage teams, and million dollar budgets. The only thing developers have to lose in this deal is their names and reputations, which if any of them wishes to remain in the industry, that will be a huge incentive not to rip people off. I think that's why you see people putting their trust in these bigger projects. It's also why it is harder for less known people to have a successful kickstarter campaign. The community backlash from someone abusing kickstarter would be career suicide.
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#39613557) Journal

      100% agreement. I kicked the bucket for wasteland 2 based on nothing but the title. No concept art, no details, no script treatment, nothing but a title and a hope for the game I wanted.

      Remember Barack Obama in 2008? He had the hope and change, but no details. He was an empty canvas of sorts on which you could imagine he'd do all the things you supported. There was something for everybody. Then he got elected, started making decisions instead of speeches, and the thrill was gone.

      Every wasteland status update will disappoint somebody (don't get me started on the "social aspects").

    • by Creepy (93888) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:05PM (#39613583) Journal

      Many things on Kickstarter are already in production but need some extra funding to see final light. The Leisure Suit Larry people, as I understand it, are working on the "original" game with updated graphics after acquiring the license and original developer, but it obviously isn't done yet since some of the rewards are to add supporters in as in-game graphics. I use quotes around original because the original game was Softporn Adventure [destructoid.com] by Charles Benton, which was nearly identical but all text based (and published by On-Line Systems, which became Sierra On-Line.

      As for amateurish, who knows - even corporate funded games with good leads can do that; as for pocketing the money, I don't feel like that is an issue because usually the pledge includes the game itself, access to the closed beta, or some other reward. It is probably a lot more risky to support a product that has not started development, but in the same light people like Brian Fargo have been in the industry a long time and can be seen as more trustworthy than others. He obviously hasn't managed to get corporate backing to do Wasteland 2, which is why he's appealing to fans of the game. Basically, for your pledge you are getting something out of it, not just giving them boatloads of cash to do with as they please.

    • by matunos (1587263) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:24PM (#39613655)

      What if the developers just pocket half the money?

      I'd be more curious about where the other half is going. Don't you *expect* most of the money to go toward the developers?

    • by bfandreas (603438) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:02PM (#39613835)
      There will be a backlash when people first relise that giving money to kickstarter is an investment without ROI. And that they don't have too much say(hopefully) in the project. Indeed, it's not even certain the projects will yield anything.
      You don't buy shares of the project.Your money may be gone. If you value your money and common sense then stay away from kickstarter. There's going to be a backlash, yes. And the charge will be lead by the usual Blue Meanies and other assorted grey and featureless men of equal noisy insignificance.
      I see kickstarter funding as a downpayment for the chance for your rose-tinted nostalgia to make a comeback. As such once the project takes the hurdles and your money is gone, you've already got what you payed for.
      Personally, I think this is a brilliant concept and it nicely bridges the gap between indies(of various size) and the big publisher funded studios.
      The current model of too many middlemen has stifled creativity for a very long time. The resurgence of smart indie titles and crowd funded A games is an indicator of that. there has been a void for at least a decade.
      I guess the Wasteland 2 pitch video where they pitch the idea to a kid-publisher is propably only half in jest. Syndicate has been remade as a half-arsed FPS, Fallout has been needlessly turned into a 3D person thing(it didn't add anything to the game but difficulty for the devs to avoid glitches), the point-and-click adventure game genre has been mostly limited to indies and new game ideas(or mixtures of existing ideas) are also mainly indies.

      This whole kickstarter thing is viable mostly due to the nintendo generation being grown-up, middle aged and rather well off. Disposable petty cash and nostalgia drive this new thing.

      Crowdsourcing only works when it gets enough momentum either by attaching big names(calling Jordan Mechner. Please respond, Jordan Mechner) to the projects. This won't work for everything. No, I reckon the AAA pap will continue to be bought, a few indies will do well due to digital distribution and crowdsourcing will fund a couple of AA titles.

      On a side note:I'm dismayed Grim Fandango was considered a commercial failure. Same goes for The Last Express. And Psychonauts.
      We spend too much money on those AAA disappointments. I've played more Bastion and Orcs Must Die than Arkham City, Warhammer 40k: Space Marine and Assassin's Creed: Revelations combined. Spent 30 Euros on Bastion and OMD and payed full price for the three AAA titles. If I buy the AAA games, flush my money down a toilet or use it to kickstart games makes little difference. The latter seems the best way to spend my funds.
      • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:08PM (#39613873)
        I've sponsored a few different projects on Kickstarter and I don't think of it as any kind of investment. I'm basically paying for the reward level offered. There's a certain amount of trust involved that they will actually deliver the rewards, but I haven't been disappointed yet.
        • by bfandreas (603438) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:14PM (#39614457)
          I'm sure I will fund an effort sooner or later, but I'm not yet interested in anything that's been offered. But when I do, I will follow the whole thing from start to finish and rather enjoy the soap opera since I basically payed the admission fee.
          I THINK the makers of Legend of Grimrock found the right balance between maintaining their vision and taking in fan suggestions. Which is irrelevant here since they weren't funded by kickstarter. Now imagine what would have happened if Bastion had been funded by kickstarter. I guess they'd been inundated with donor's advice(some of them insisting to be investors and DEMANDING meetings so their concerns could be heard) and it would not have been able to maintain clarity of their concept.
          In know I just made this up but that is my main concern with kickstarter. Donor who don't know the difference between a donation and an investment hijacking the design process by sheer noise generated. A bit like a big publisher, but less well groomed and mannered. Kinda defeats the purpose.
          I know that's irrational but that's my gut feeling about the whole thing.
        • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:56PM (#39616257)

          I will be helping to fund Wasteland 2 and I do see it as an investment. Not every reward has to be monetary. A donation would imply that I am not expecting any reward for myself. It would just be to help others. That is clearly not the case here. My motivation is most definitely *not* altruistic. Far from it. It is 100% purely selfish.

          There is most definitely risk involved. Brian Fargo could put his 2 1/2 million in a suitcase, and disappear with enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life. There are no strings attached to the money. There is a huge element of trust involved and that's where the risk comes in.

          If you purchase shares in a company the best case scenario is that you make some extra money. Money that you can use to buy products that already exist in the marketplace.

          With kickstarter I am gambling my $100 (or whatever) with the hope that my ROI will be a game that I will enjoy playing and which would not have come into existence without thousands of people like me taking that risk. The fact that the ROI is not cash does not mean that it does not exist.

          In addition to the reward of the kind of game I like to play which would never otherwise be made there is the additional benefit of voting with my dollars for more such games to be made in the future as well as for the crowdsourced patronage funding model itself which might result in projects that would also never otherwise be realized. Many artistic fields are influenced by the demand of real investors that the work appeal to as many people as possible to maximize their monetary ROI leading to a compromise of artistic integrity and, at best, mediocre works. By funding any kickstarter project, especially a high profile one, I am also voting for future projects that I might otherwise never experience. Not just computer games, but also films, novels, and music.

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:40PM (#39613999) Homepage

      System seems ripe for being abused...Leisure Suit Larry's kickstarter suggests the money is needed to make the game, glossing over that the game has already been under production for at least half a year.

      All they have is a single background and a bit of animation that they used to pitch the game to publishers, they don't have a game. The publishers didn't want it, so they are now pitching it to kickstarter.

      • by bfandreas (603438) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @05:07PM (#39614123)
        LL1 has already been remade as VGA/256 colours if memory serves me right. I do distinctly remember that Space Quest 1 got remade in the Space Quest IV engine.
        The thing is, I don't think LL1 needs to be remade. The EGA original had its very own charme and high-definition propably won't be able to add anything to it. Besides, a 1:1 remake will propably be lost on the current generation of gamers. It's a tale of an idiot clinging to late 70ies stereotypes which will be lost on anybody born past 1960.

        I played it as a 14 or 15 year old kid and it took me a couple of years to see it wasn't a portrayal of a good dating approach but a parody. LL1 is only funny when put into historical context otherwise you'll get only half of the references. The other half will stay hilarious forever.

        Also: how do you explain to a 14 or 15 year old kid in 2012 the concept of payphones?
        No, LL1 is a true thing of the past, a historical moment and should be portrayed on the canvas that was available at the time.

        What a farking luddite I am.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:03PM (#39614393)

      Well that's why you're hedging your bets risk wise. Donate 25 bucks or 30 bucks or whatever, if it's terrible it's not a huge loss.

      The reason big studios aren't behind these things is because if it takes 10-20 million to make a game and another 20-30 to market it they can't afford to risk that kind of money on a game that's going to make 5 million in sales. The movie studios do this sort of thing with fancy accounting, much larger distributions (worldwide) double monetization (movie+ dvd) and they're big enough 'losses' in one project are really tax writeoffs for kickbacks to favoured people who were paid to develop some monstrosity, see John Carter for example.

      Getting 3 or 4 million dollars in funding is hard. Getting 300k is pretty easy, your bank will regularly cough that up in a small business loan. Getting 30 or 40 million is in some ways easier, a big publisher will talk to you at that price point, and they have deep pockets and spread the risk around a lot of investors and have quality controls etc. so you can release a sword of the stars 2 clusterfuck (no offence to paradox, those guys have always been decent to deal with, but they just aren't all that big). A 15-20 person team for a couple of years is very hard to pitch as going to make a game that will successfully compete for player dollars (and time) with titles like Skyrim, SWTOR, Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Etc.. etc. etc.. They might have some novelty to them, and that can sell a few.. but there's only so much room in the market. A 100 person team for 3 or 4 years is definitely going to have something they can show at the end of it and through advertising inertia alone can make 50 or 60% return. A title that's aiming small might never get enough attention to ever sell. Wasteland 2 is interesting because they have millions in free press from Kickstarter, but don't expect a lot of other projects to make it that far.

      If you aren't making a game for consoles up until very recently the big publishers didn't really want to talk to you. Lots of awesome, and successful games don't play nice with consoles. Think baldurs gate (being remade), fallout (in the original isometric style), syndicate (remade as FPS), Xcom (remade as FPS). Until Steam really got into gear the PC market was a liability. How many decent selling games are PC exclusive right now? Anno 2070 (give or take the massive DRM fiasco), Shogun 2 fall of the samurai, Crusader kings... uh...MMO's. The first 3 are all european games, aimed primarily at a european audience, MMO's are in a whole other price and risk bracket. Kickstarter seems like it's a good way to guarantee how much money you'll get and get a measure of the interest in paying for a PC game. It will probably take a while to see how donations will translate into sales, but it might be really useful as a '3 million in donations(which come out of sales largely) translates to 10 million in sales, so can we have 5 million dollars mr publisher, and you get to keep all the gravy past 10 mill in sales'. Which is a much better business pitch than '10 million dollars for a project we're not sure how many people will buy please'.

    • by flowwolf (1824892) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:33PM (#39614563)

      Okay then "Big Publisher Damage Control Consultant", doing his job auspiciously as possible. The accountability is there. The reputation of those who asked for funding is already there. If studios don't follow through on their development promises, you'll be damned sure that people won't forget about it. They won't be seeing any more of that sweet KickStarter nectar if they try that monkey business. You screw your investors/customers over and they'll take their money elsewhere. That's how reputation works. Too long has the publishing industry forgotten that earning a bad reputation can build up to massive repercussions.

      I think that this amount of money pouring into independent direct funding has completely blind sided publishing studios. I guarantee you that they are taking it seriously. When your business model is built entirely around being the middle man, the last thing you want your customers to do is to learn how to remove the middle man. Publishers have always been at war with the direct funding model and will usually just use the acquisition strategy to counter that movement. KickStarter revealed something different. KickStarter is a means to a market movement they never anticipated. Even if KickStarter gets bought and dismantled, the training wheels are on and the direct funding model is rolling. We have the technology.

    • by Fallen Andy (795676) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:37AM (#39618727)
      I posted to an earlier post re Wastlands 2, but here goes...

      You left out a magic word ---> "new" I'm trying to be optimistic but i suspect i'm dead wrong - what we'll get is semi riskless stuff from well known almost immortal

      zombie like devs from the 90's ( ---> :-| Something inside me thinks the existing dead bipedal mammals think they can look young again by borrowing newer models... (maybe i'm just a cynic)

      Andy

    • by DavidTC (10147) < ... > <neverbox.com>> on Monday April 09, 2012 @11:24AM (#39619167) Homepage

      Or really, a single good game has been released from somebody who doesn't already have a large fanbase and nostalgia helping him get attention.

      Anyone who thinks Kickstart is a reasonable development model is crazy.

      I donate money to Kickstart adventure games, to show that adventure games actually do sell and have a large audience. (You'd think that the dozens of Europeans adventure games that have sold well in the US over the last decade would prove this, but apparently no.) I consider this a donation, in much the same way that I often purchase books I've already read and enjoyed. I hope a game comes out of it, but the purpose of the game is not for me (Although I will play it), it is for other companies to look at and say 'Hey, those games apparently sell, and are not that costly to make. Let's make one.'.

      Perhaps that will also work for the sort of turn-based RPGs like Wasteland, like others are saying. (Although as that genre just moved on into more and more realism, instead of just vanishing for no real reason because the major studios folding for unrelated reasons and everyone else assumed they'd have another Myst and leaving when they didn't, I'm not sure it will work. But I will be happy to be wrong.)

      As some sort of insane method to pre-purchase games that aren't even made? No. Kickstart should not be used for that.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:08PM (#39613311)

    In other discussions I've seen, the assumption seems to be that the first game that betrays expectations will doom the whole system.

    I don't think that's true - this isn't an investment cycle, but more a method of pre-purchasing that cuts the last link that was tying small game makers to publishers - seen money for projects.

    Collapse isn't inevitable - but I do see some interesting circumstances occurring as Kickstarter is forced to pull funding from some projects, or resulting in empty demo games with no plans for completion.

    The idea is still critical though - a mechanism for the potential audience of an entertainment product to freely contribute to the seed money for that product. It will certainly be some rocky challenges ahead - but the core idea will survive, and I think will result in a lot of positive alternatives to insular corporate planning.

    It's also a great alternative to the centralized planned culture of nations like France, so intent on protecting an elusive cultural ideal, they approach stagnation at times.

    It's a great third way - a way with its own problems, but much to add compared to the extremes of strict corporate planning and liberal cultural protectionism.

    Ryan Fenton

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @02:46PM (#39613483)

    Kikstarter lets people who already have a name get funding for their pet project.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by am 2k (217885) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:29PM (#39613673) Homepage

      Kikstarter lets people who already have a name get funding for their pet project.

      Tell that to the oh-so-well-known game developers Justin Ma and Matthew Davis (not the actor), who run the Faster Than Light [kickstarter.com] Kickstarter project.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:22PM (#39614507)

      Kikstarter lets people who already have a name get funding for their pet project.

      How does that contradict the premise of the original question? Yeah, you need to have a name to get top-dollar funding. Unknowns will get some, but not as much as people who have a proven track record. This is a good thing, as maintaining that record is the only incentive that keeps people from doing a run with the money, or producing crap. (Personally, I think Kickstarter funds over a certain amount should be held in escrow, and released as specified milestones are achieved).

      That doesn't mean that Kickstarter isn't going to give games that otherwise would never have been made a chance. It doesn't mean that these games will be consumer-oriented rather than publisher-oriented. It doesn't mean that cutting out the middle-man isn't going to cut development times significantly. It doesn't mean that it won't provide a way for niche genres to get funding.

      If Kickstarter accomplishes even some of those things, then I think it would qualify as a renaissance in gaming.

      • by DavidTC (10147) < ... > <neverbox.com>> on Monday April 09, 2012 @11:49AM (#39619425) Homepage

        It doesn't mean that it won't provide a way for niche genres to get funding.

        What I am hoping Kickstart does, at least for adventure gaming, is to 'unkill it'.

        The death and subsequent fear of the US gaming industry to touch adventure games with a 10-foot pole was due entirely to chance, as one studio collapsed while the other changing direction, added on top of absurd over-expectations, largely thanks to Myst, which is still the most popular game in terms of 'copies sold per installed computer'. Which meant everyone cloned it and then became baffled that showing people computer-rendered pictures that you can click on things and make them move does not really count as 'a game', and Myst sold not as an 'adventure game' but as a 'novelty'.

        So the market nonsensical ran away from adventure games .Leaving quite a few games in development hell for years as they lacked funding or the studio wouldn't release them, and then this inexplicably became part of the evidence that 'adventure games don't work'.

        There is no actual reason to not make adventure games. They will never be Skyrim and sell for that much, but they could easily sell for half that, and be made in 1/10th the time and effort.

        Especially considering that European adventure games have been doing it for the last decade and a half, from super-long and expensive to short and cheap. And then Telltale got into it...

        At this point, I have no idea what's required to make EA look around and say 'Hey, let's spent $10 million and make an adventure game this year'. I don't expect Kickstart to actually fund the games, I expect it to produce some nice games that make money, and get the studios interested.

        OTOH, nothing else seemed to do that, so who knows.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 09, 2012 @12:56AM (#39616503) Homepage

      The word "pet project" has the negative connotation of illegitimacy. One could rephrase what you said as, "Kickstarter lets game developers who have a proven track-record get funding for projects without needing to go to an outside publisher."

      We'll see how these projects turn out, but I've read developer complaints about publishers encouraging them to make safe, cookie-cutter, mediocre games; pushing the games out too early; and having a bad influence on creative decisions. Maybe the developers are just being brats, or maybe there's some truth to the complaints.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:05PM (#39613579)

    Depends on what one means by "renaissance". Will Kickstarter see a large boost for unknowns making new games for the first time? Maybe, it will help get some ideas done that otherwise never would have seen the day, (see Diaspora), but I doubt it will cause a huge increase in such. What I think we will be, and are, seeing is a large influx of established games and designers creating new work that otherwise wouldn't have ever seen the light of day. With the one and a quarter of a million that The Order of the Stick Reprint Drive [kickstarter.com] made, I think we are already seeing this in the table top gaming community. Now other games companies [kickstarter.com] are pulling out old favorites and using Kickstarter to judge interest and essentially get pre-sales for a product. We are seeing the same thing with the Shadowrun Returns [kickstarter.com] game by the original designers. I'm hearing the same sort of things from friends who are comic book fans about new and old comic book projects. For what are essentially cottage industries with fans, I think it will help a great deal as one can essentially take a lot of risk out of guessing if something will sale enough to make the money back.

    Personally, I'm beginning to really get into Kickstarter. New creative projects that I can not only look at getting, but if I really like it could even pay more for extras or even for things like getting myself added as a character in the video game. Some of the projects are small endevors that I want, but the larger demand just isn't there for. If I had to rely on brick and mortar stores or even the internet for such products to get produced, I'd probably never get them. With Kickstarter, a project can get the funding for it to fill what demand there is even if it's not enough to be sustainable for wide distribution.

  • by Xian97 (714198) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @03:48PM (#39613739)
    I see these recent wave of kickstarts as the ultimate pre-order. As a backer, I get a lower price and maybe some extras for my investment, and the knowledge that I am helping with the creation of a game that I want to play but wouldn't have got backing otherwise. As a developer, you get your funding in advance, and anything sold after the release is profit since your expenses have already been covered.

    I backed Wasteland 2. I would love to see another post apocalyptic turn based RPG, since Fallout 3 went in a completely different direction in regards to game play as it's predecessors.

    Eventually one of these projects will fail, or not live up to expectations, but I hope that is the rare exception.
    • by bfandreas (603438) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @05:33PM (#39614265)
      I think of it as a lot less than a pre-order.

      If your pre-ordered thing doesn't get delivered then you won't be charged.

      For sanity's sake consider it a risk and write off that money spent. If something comes out of it, rejoice. If not, find another worthwhile project. But for heavens sake don't feel entitled but to the anonymous glory of being one of the thousands who backed a thing when the big publishers would not.
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:24PM (#39613943)

    ... of the modern videogame industry while I'm also pessimistic about kickstarter I'd rather throw money at people who love and care about games then just watch every game become an MMO and chained to online DRM (Starcraft 2, diablo 3).

    Kickstarter is really tapping into a lot of negative gamer sentiment, especially if you grew up in the 80's and 90's and watched PC game quality dive off cliff after the early 2000's. The last decade has been probably one of the worst decades for gamers and gamers rights on the whole. Map editors, tools to mod games? Sorry we'd rather sell you bonus weapons and extra maps as DLC at inflated prices.

    Most newer generation gamers didn't grow up playing Doom, Duke3D, Quake and many other early PC games so they have no f'n clue how bad games have become.

  • by zyzko (6739) <kari,asikainen&gmail,com> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:34PM (#39613989)

    Kickstarter is a huge gamble for everyone - in traditional publishing the publisher takes the risk and if a project falls flat they write it off. Big deal, they know that half of their investments are not going to fly, quarter will get their money back, 12,5% will make a decent profit and rest will be a success. But with kickstarter you have thousands of contributors for a project, and if, and eventually some project will, turn out to be a pancake on the floor there will be thousands complaining.

    I wish all the best for the model, but it is risky as hell - it only needs one colossal failure and people will not donate again.

    • by bfandreas (603438) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @06:06PM (#39614415)
      Well, if everybody doesn't see the difference betwen a donation and an investment, then no. People won't praticipate in crowdfunding anymore.

      But it is just a matter of time before torrents of QQ wash us all into the sea so it might be wise not to spend money on kickstarter but build an arc instead.

      I'm mulling over what it'd take to make me send disposable cash to a project. There are some things but as of now, I'm not seeing it.
      But what I do see is the level of expectation that rides on the two-digit donations. The sense of entitlement that seems to be a common theme is the hugest risk to the success to any of these games. If the studios listen to their benefactors then they will end up with a design by comittee problem and that's the main reason why I'm not too enthusiastic. I've yet to read from any of those who were lucky to get funding through kickstarter how they want to keep their fans out of the design process.
    • by SQL Error (16383) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @10:31PM (#39615803)

      I wish all the best for the model, but it is risky as hell - it only needs one colossal failure and people will not donate again.

      Except that you can't have a colossal failure with this model. Say a project fails completely and all we get is some art sketches and an unplayable demo. Oh no, I'm out $15. I still have a dozen other projects in the pipeline to keep me entertained.

      I fully expect that I won't end up playing half the games I'm backing - either they'll never deliver, or they'll deliver but I won't like the result. And I'm perfectly fine with that. Look, people bought Dragon Age 2, and Bioware's offices are still standing. Gamers are much more forgiving that you seem to think.

  • by N0Man74 (1620447) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:49PM (#39614041)

    I just want to mention that Kickstarter is also getting board games off the ground as well. I actually only first heard about Kickstarter after playing Alien Frontiers a couple months ago. It is an enjoyable and well received board game that is the result of a Kickstarter project. There are many board games in development because of Kickstarter as well.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @04:51PM (#39614059)

    All they do is suck the fun of the games and add crap DRM and DLC.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @05:59PM (#39614375) Homepage
    Don't wait, it won't be that long until this method of funding is abused, people quit helping and it's ruined for everyone.
  • by Xphile101361 (1017774) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:07AM (#39618413)

    With video games, I don't see it kicking off a renaissance. Huge AAA games still take millions of dollars and that model likely won't change. What may change is the development of Indie games or games that have a history to them.

    With board games I do think there is and will be a change. A lot of board games coming out are by indie designers. Before they had to pitch their ideas to a publisher to get published. Now they can pitch their idea to a small group of consumers, get the first run printed and start making a name for themselves. The fact that you are only aiming at thousands of dollars instead of millions makes this a model that will work

  • by Rotag_FU (2039670) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:58PM (#39621571)

    I have just one question, will we see Toys for Bob (i.e., Ford and Reiche) start a kickstarter effort for a true Star Control sequel? Star Control 2 was one of my favorite games of all time. Heck, I even enjoyed (although nowhere near as much) the non-Ford/Reiche produced Star Control 3 (I know, heresy...). If there is any game that screams out as good candidate, surely this is it. I'd be willing to put my money where my mouth is and help fund it through kick-starter. Anyone else with me?

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