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Crowdfunding for Eternal Darkness successor off to sluggish start

The first two days of a crowdfunding project are very important. Most giant Kickstarters, those with funding goals north of $750,000, tend to raise the bulk of their cash in the first 24 to 48 hours.

That’s not what is happening with Precursor Games’ Shadow of the Eternals. The Canadian-based company, composed primarily of former Silicon Knights employees, is looking to fund a spiritual successor to the 2002 GameCube horror title Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. After two days, it isn’t even at a 10th of its goal.

Fans have clamored for a sequel to Eternal Darkness for nearly a decade, and now they have a chance to directly contribute to the existence of a game that echoes the classic. Except only around 2,000 people have contributed a total of $117,000 over the first 48 hours. That might sound like a lot, but Precursor wants $1.5 million to produce Shadow of the Eternals.

That means Precursor is at less than 8 percent of its goal through the first two days of its campaign. The first two days of a crowdfunding drive are also when projects generate the most support with exceptions that only include projects that capture the public zeitgeist after they launch (like the Pebble smartwatch).

Compare Shadow of the Eternals to the downloadable content for fighting game Skullgirls. That title’s developer, Lab Zero Games, went to Kickstarter-like competitor Indiegogo and asked its community for $150,000 to create new characters.

Skullgirls fans had 30 days to raise the money. They did it in 24 hours before going on to raise more than $829,000.

Again, Precursor has only raised $117,000 in 48 hours. With a goal twice as high as the amount that Lab Zero eventually raised.

Another project, a town-building strategy game called Stonehearth, is on Kickstarter right now with a goal of $120,000. For its first three days on the platform, 3,637 backers contributed $117,660, according to Kickstarter-tracking website Kicktraq. Through 10 days, it’s now sitting at $250,000.

An unreachable goal

Shadow of the Eternals seems like it is playing in the same league as Stonehearth and maybe, if it’s lucky, Skullgirls. It’s clear, however, that it is nowhere near the success of the biggest Kickstarter projects.

Eternal Darkness Precursor GamesThe most-funded video game Kickstarter ever is InXile Entertainment’s Torment: Tides of Numenera. Also a spiritual successor, Planescape: Torment drew fans to its funding campaign in droves.

In its first day, Torment raised $1.488 million from nearly 28,000 backers. InXile only had a goal of $900,000. That pace dropped off dramatically on the second day, when it raised $517,000 from around 8,400 backers. Regardless, that’s far more than Precursor has pulled in over two days.

In fact, Torment made more on its fourth day than Shadow of the Eternals has made in its first two.

Torment: Tides of Numenera ended up with $4.188 million in funding.

But perhaps that’s not a fair comparison, so let’s look at something a bit closer in terms of monetary goals.

Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey is another sequel to beloved classic video game. It’s developer, Red Thread Games, set a goal of $850,000.

Dreamfall’s fans ended up contributing $1.538 million. Precursor wants $1.5 million for Shadow of the Eternals. Ideally, if Precursor is going to reach its goal, Eternals should have numbers close to Dreamfall.

It doesn’t.

Through its first two days, Dreamfall Chapters generated $479,038 from 8,437 backers. That is more than four times the funds and backers than Precursor has for its project.

All this isn’t to say that Shadow of the Eternals can’t reach $1.5 million by June 7. It could get a surge of support at any time. All this data suggests is that it’s very unlikely that Precursor’s project will hit its goal.

But wait, what happens to the money?

Precursor isn’t using Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other crowdfunding platform. The developer is using its own website to take donations.

On Kickstarter, a project must reach its goal. If it doesn’t, then it refunds all of the money. This is an automatic action.

“Our financial goal is a flexible one,” reads the Frequently Asked Questions section on Shadow of the Eternals’ funding page. “We are committed to making this game, however, if it becomes apparent that we cannot raise enough to develop this project then we will refund all pledges.”

That is in answer to the question of what happens if Precursor doesn’t reach its $1.5 million goal. We’ve reached out to Precursor multiple times to ask what it means by “flexible,” but it hasn’t responded to our requests.

The implication is that they will keep the money as long as they have enough to complete development, but no one at the studio is defining what that number is. It’s possible that this campaign only raises $750,000. That’s half of what the company claims it needs to produce Shadow of the Eternals. Are backers going to get half of what they were originally promised?

It’s possible, but no crowdfunding game with a goal this size has had this slow of a start and reached its funding goal.

Shadow of the Eternals is a few hours into its third day of crowdfunding, and so far today, it has only added a few dozen backers and a little more than $1,000.


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