Chris Taylor has everything riding on his crowdfunding effort to raise money for his next game. On Jan. 14, Taylor kicked off a Kickstarter to raise $1.1 million for the real-time strategy/role-playing game Wildman. But just four days into the fundraising, he has had to lay off most of his team at studio Gas Powered Games.
The layoffs will help the company keep its cash reserves while it awaits its Kickstarter fate. In an emotional video update this evening, Taylor explained that he had to cut back on the team before the Kickstarter completes in 27 days or face the possibility that he would — if it fails — shut down his 15-year-old game development studio entirely and let the remaining employees go without severance pay.
Then he put the fate of Gas Powered Games and Wildman up to the community. He said that the community can decide through its comments and donations whether Taylor should continue with the Kickstarter or shut it down immediately.
Wildman has raised $176,000 from 3,577 fans so far. It has a long way to go to get to its goal, and donations have to pick up the pace. Taylor said he has gambled the future of Gas Powered Games many times in its history.
“But today is different. I really felt it was a crazy idea to gamble in this economy,” he said, pausing and fighting back tears. “To gamble with the people here, who are the most talented and loyal people. To play a card game with their livelihoods is not smart. So I made a very, very tough decision.”
“But I have another tough decision,” he said. “That’s why I am here on this video update. Now that the team has been laid off, should I continue the campaign to see if the numbers do improve and hire them back at the end of the campaign — if they still want to come back and if they haven’t found jobs? Or do I shut the campaign down, tonight or tomorrow, and call it done. So help me make a tough decision. Vote with your comments. We’ll tabulate them. Kill the campaign. Or keep it going. It’s up to you.”
So far, all of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, asking Taylor to keep it going. Taylor knew that the finances were coming down to the wire. He said a couple of weeks ago that he was cutting the staff from around 60 to 20 people. And tonight, he said in an email that the staff had been downsized even more to about 10 people, depending on who is sticking around with reduced wages.