Ah, the Kickstarter nay-sayers. A few months ago, when Double Fine's Tim Schafer managed to fund his point-and-click adventure game (code-named Double Fine Adventure) in less than eight hours, the mass copy/paste machine that we call the Internet was screaming more or less unanimously that it was not possible to raise more than an indie budget through crowdfunding. A month later, when Schafer had managed to get over 3 million dollars (and still counting, since they are now accepting PayPal orders), the popular wisdom had slightly changed to: "Well, it’s Tim Schafer, and it’s adventure games, but this probably won't happen again."
Currently, Kickstarter has 271 successfully funded video game campaigns. Big names like Carmageddon, Leisure Suit Larry, and Shadowrun are making a comeback. Wasteland 2 raised almost as much money as Double Fine Adventure. Dozens of new developers who started their small projects this way now have an opportunity to flaunt their skills and build a fan base.
And still, this is only the beginning. Most gamers, believe it or not, haven’t heard of Kickstarter. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kickstarter can really be the way to resurrect mid-budget games that were thriving during the last generation. But I’ll even go further than this; I'll say that in two years, you’ll have your first triple-A crowdfunded game.
Crowdfunding is a way to cut off the middle men (and potentially let the developer earn 100% of what you pay instead of the fraction they earn nowadays). Furthermore, the system trusts authors to realize their vision versus relying on publishers and marketing departments who are always one step behind. There will be blunders and disappointments (like always), but crowdfunding in the long run is a way for us to have our cake and eat it too. Publishers want money, and authors want recognition. Guess what's best for gamers….
And yes, we are only at the beginning.
For example, Japan needs to build a bilingual Kickstarter site. Kickstarter only accepts projects from America and is only readable in English. But the Japanese game industry is probably the most receptive to the crowdfunding model.
First off, Japan allows game authors to put themselves forward (while a lot of publishers still prohibit it) and create auteur-driven titles on leading platforms. Japan now has this invaluable stash of rockstar personas that are known worldwide amongst gamers — from the most famous like Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid) and Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts) to more obscure but still revered artists like Yoko Taro (Nier) or Swery65 (Deadly Premonition). This includes literally dozens of beloved celebrities that can create the gathering that you need to make crowdfunding happen.
Second, Japanese gamers and Western Otakus are an avid and dedicated fan base that will be easier than most other crowds to mobilize, especially with all the bonus stuff you can offer with crowdfunding. With Facebook networking and all, I expect a crowdfunded Japanese game from a big name to even surpass Double Fine's success.
Well, let's wait and see, shall we?
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