Kickstarter could change the way we buy and support games

By on March 20, 2012

The possibilities with crowd funding.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

An ex-BioWare developer quite infamously said recently, “stop thinking you’re a producer”. I think Kickstarter is proving him wrong every day. In fact, I believe, crowd funding like Kickstarter is a revolution waiting to happen. A revolution in how we buy and support the games we like, and like to play.

Services like Kickstarter can be imagined as a vast open ground where developers can house their development ideas, free for consumers like us to sample and “back” it with actual money to help develop it. It would, in some part, bring us the ability to power game concepts that are innovative – something that would be deemed risky and unfavorable by publishing houses that, understandably, want to see that profit line always on the greener part of the chart.

An obvious example is, of course, of Tim Schafer. His idea of an old school, point-and-click adventure met with disinterested looks and multiple rejections. Adventure games were declared dead long time back, but that was precisely not the case. His Kickstarter for his adventure game met with incredible success. It racked up over $3 million, beyond the project’s modest requirement of $400,000. There is obviously a ‘demand’ for good quality, Tim Schafer point-and-click adventure games, but it would never have been made without Kickstarter.

It could also help obscure, long forgotten classics that no publisher would touch. A 1988 game called Wasteland is getting a sequel thanks to its Kickstarter campaign, which once again, provided more funding than required. Baldur’s Gate III is also looking like a possibility.

Crowd funding websites like Kickstarter could then become a store front for gamers to select the games that they would like to play, before it’s made, and then help develop it by becoming one of the producers of the project.

What would that entail for gamers? Cheaper games and more value. Depending on the developer, a ‘backer’ could receive a number of additional goodies for a modest price of say $15, which would otherwise be part of the ‘limited edition’ or ‘deluxe edition’ of the game. Extra money would fetch access to various development process and tools. It also gives gamers a chance to meet the development team, for a fantastic amount of money of course, which otherwise wouldn’t had been possible.

Should we be then allowed a say on the development? Depends. A developer could easily host surveys and polls to ping ideas, gather feedback, and implement suggestions and improvements, and customize the game exactly how we would want. They could not do that, too, which is exactly what the point of crowd funding is – a clean, hindrance-free development based on an original idea, unadulterated by top level management, charts and market-focus reports.

Kickstarter could also be a platform for budding video game writers and concept developers to find a development team and turn that idea into an actual product.

Such projects do not necessarily have to be small, thousand-dollar, or single-million dollar projects.  Here’s a wild thought – a project could have multiple publishers, each looking after different parts of the development (such as marketing), but not directly involved with the actual process. They would be recipient of a part of the profit if the game picks up, and part of the liability if it does not. This could also make inroads for small producing teams to invest in multiple projects and help them grow.

In the end, Kickstarter and the like will provide exposure to those thousands of indie development teams looking for a chance to build the next Minecraft, or the next Limbo, or the next Dear Ester. This, of course, does not mean death to the triple-A, big budgeted games that we love to enjoy. Those will stick around and give us our pop-corn infused action and thrills. But beyond that, a platform like Kickstarter gives us the control and command to support games we would like to play. Aren’t we demanding that, anyway?


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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