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Move over Kickstarter. Gambitious is launching a crowdfunding platform to allow game developers to raise money from fans to create ambitious indie games.
The Amsterdam-based Gambitious team includes the founders of Gathering of Developers, the head of Mastertronic, and a Dutch equity-based crowdfunding platform. It also includes Paul Haraets, Andy Payne (the CEO of Mastertronic), and company is unveiling itself this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.
Gambitious’ founders include Mike Wilson and Harry Miller, co-founders of Gathering of Developers, a 1990s firm that tried to stir up the industry by treating game developers as rock stars.
The company is inviting game developers to make pitches for games that they want to finance through Gambitious. The service will launch later this summer as an online platform where developers and publishers can secure funds for development of new or existing game projects. The platform can accept both fan donations and equity investment. It will target proven development studios and up-and-coming independent developers. The service will include plans to getting a game to market and reaching its audiences.
Hanraets, Gambitious co-founder, said “We are absolutely ecstatic to be working with guys who have been championing and empowering independent game developers for so long, as we all see the crowdfunding opportunity as something that, if handled properly, could truly change the industry for indies for good.”
When game studios register a project at Gambitious, they can indicate how much capital is required to fund a project all the way through commercial release and the amount of equity, or points, in the project they will offer in return. Potential investors can browse the platform for promising projects, investing as little as 20 euros per share until the studio hits its funding target.
Currently, equity-based crowd investing is only legal in the European Union, but with the new JOBS Acts recently signed into law, American citizens are expected to be able to participate in early 2013. Until then, Americans can participate via donations or presales, as on Kickstarer.
Game developers can also raise funds via a hybrid of both fan donations and an equity offering, and the equity offering can be adjusted if the fan donations are better than expected. That way, teams don’t have to give up more equity than necessary.
“In February, Tim Shafer and Doublefine proved to the world that crowdfunding for games is very real and that fans can choose the games they want to be made by funding them directly,” said Wilson, a partner in Gambitious. “As far as my partners and I are concerned, this represents the biggest opportunity independent developers have ever had to truly control their own creative and financial destiny, but it has to be handled with care if it is to last. I am truly honored to be part of the team that will work to legitimize, protect, and maximize this opportunity for professional game developers, their fans, and a new army of individual investors out there.”
The platform will be structured for funding in the U.S. and the European Union. That will open the crowdfunding model to a larger global audience. Only when the funding goal is met is the transaction executed. Individual investments are converted into a single legal entity, dubbed a co-op. Each investor owns a stake in the new investment company in proportion to their investment as part of the overall amount raised. Dividends are paid bas
The individual investments are converted into a single legal entity, a co-op, designed for the purposes of making the project investment. Each investor owns a stake in this new legal entity (the investment vehicle) in the proportion of their investment to the overall investment amount and if the project is successful will be paid dividends accordingly.
Additionally, investors will be able to trade their shares in one Gambitious project for shares in others once the funding target has been reached.
“It’s a great time to be both a game creationist and an investor, as financial opportunities abound with the myriad new platforms and rapidly evolving digital marketplace,,” said Andy Payne, Gambitious partner and CEO of UK-based publisher Mastertronic. “Old dogs willing to learn new tricks are in for as wild and exciting a ride as this industry has ever seen.”
In an email, Miller added, “I tried doing something similar about 3 years ago, but the lawyers shut me down due to the SEC regulations against offering equity to large numbers of individuals, some of whom would obviously be unqualified investors.
I was excited to learn of Gambitious’ model in Europe, and more recently, the passing of the JOBS act here in the U.S., which will allow Americans to participate in this funding platform in 2013. Finally investors of any size, can invest in something that they are either passionate or curious about, in bite size pieces. The learning curve on investing in this space just became dramatically less steep.
The equity based Crowd Funding model, has the potential to reinvent how and which games come to market, more directly putting the decision into the hands of the people who want to play those games. I feel that the games/genres that will benefit the most from this model are those that are of a smaller niche as the fans of these games can support them long before any decision is made to squash them due to perceived lack of interest.”