When Tim Schafer used to work at LucasArts, he put out some of the most memorable adventure games during a time when Sierra dominated the charts back in the 90’s. Almost twenty years later, Schafer’s DoubleFine studios has put out some commercially successful games in recent past and now they’re going back to what they love best – adventure games. Yes, the point and click kind. Problem is, no publisher isn’t going to give them a chance to fund their experiment unless it’s a first person shooter nowadays. So, they’ve resorted to Kickstarter – a crowdfunding web service used to fund interesting projects.
Three days ago, their goal was to break $400k to start the project. As of this writing, they’ve exceeded their expectations and were able to raise 1.7 million dollars supported by 49,000+ backers. With almost whole month left to do funding, we could possibly see that number increase and potentially see DoubleFine’s creation show up across other platforms.
In the Kickstarted description, Schafer goes into detail over why he’s taken the crowdfunding route versus trying to court traditional publishers:
Big games cost big money. Even something as “simple” as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title can cost upwards of two or three million dollars. For disc-based games, it can be over ten times that amount. To finance the production, promotion, and distribution of these massive undertakings, companies like Double Fine have to rely on external sources like publishers, investment firms, or loans. And while they fulfill an important role in the process, their involvement also comes with significant strings attached that can pull the game in the wrong directions or even cancel its production altogether. Thankfully, viable alternatives have emerged and gained momentum in recent years.
One of the backers who’s pledged $10,000 will get a lunch with Schafer, a tour of the office and a ton of other perks that include a portrait of the backer painted by the art team. Backers who’ve pledged in the $15-$30 range get the game on Steam and for the $30 guys, they get the documentary series in HD and the game’s soundtrack in downloadable form.
But what’s really interesting about this project is how the backers may have some influence in how the game gets shaped based on their feedback in a private forum. In fact, the backers will also have access to the beta version of the game and get monthly exclusive updates of the development on video via 2 Player Productions.
What does this say about the minds behind traditional game publishers? Are they out of touch? Can Kickstarter change the way game developers produce more original content or is Double Fine just well reputable in the game industry. It says a lot when gamers are willing to put their money where their mouth is versus surveying them over what they want.