On the 9th, Tim Schafer and friends at Double Fine Productions started up a Kickstarter project in order to fundraise for the development of a new adventure game. In short, Kickstarter is a funding platform where people can donate money to a project whose creators can’t come up with the cash for by themselves. Schafer asked for $400,000, an amount which must be reached by March 7th or none of the money will be granted.
This may sound like a silly amount of money to be spending on just an adventure game but, at time of writing, the amount raised so far is well over an incredible $2,000,000. Two million dollars of donations from people who simply love video games and two people have even forked out ten thousand dollars each!
So why has it been so successful? It helps that Double Fine’s track record is, barring one or two hiccups, magnificent. The company’s first game was the critically acclaimed Psychonauts and it has recently been releasing excellent XBLA games in Stacking, Iron Brigade and Double Fine Happy Action Theater, which is one of the most impressive uses of the Kinect I’ve seen so far. Couple that with Tim Schafer’s glowing game development history before founding Double Fine (Monkey Island, anyone?) and it’s easy to see why so many people are putting their faith in this game.
What’s more is the nostalgia much of the gaming public hold over the old school point and click adventure games. The high number of backers for the project could be down to the fact that people want to play a new, quality game in that vein. People say that the genre has died, but I don’t think the popularity has waned, it’s just that the popularity of the Call of Dutys and Maddens of this world have increased in relation to it. Maybe a new high profile adventure game could quell talk of the “death of the genre”.
So is this going to change the way that game companies fund their games? Probably not... but it’s a nice idea. There are a few independent titles looking for money on Kickstarter, but I don’t see the majority of people wanting to pre-pay EA or Activision for their next yearly instalment of a game franchise, any more than those companies will want to run the risk that some people might pay less than the retail price. Especially since Activision in particular is attempting to subvert the $60 price ceiling that Microsoft and Sony impose on game sales by releasing “deluxe editions” of games, something which is surprisingly popular amongst consumers despite the elevated price.
Given the choice, how much would you pay for the next Call of Duty game, knowing that it’s likely going to be much like the previous iteration, but with some different maps and perhaps some updated graphics? What’s more is that, although the two million raised so far is very impressive, it’s not much in relation to what’s being spent on game development by bigger companies. While Bioware hasn’t disclosed the development cost for SW:TOR, it is rumoured that it could be upwards of $150 million, a total far too great to ask the public to pay for in advance.