Freddie Wong has a promise for fans of his Video Game High School webseries as it enters its third and last season.
“We are going to kill a major character in the final season,” Wong said in an interview with GamesBeat. “They are going to die.”
And he’s asking his loyal viewers to help pay for it.
Wong, the co-creator of the popular YouTube video series Video Game High School, wants the final season to delight its loyal fans. His company, RocketJump, is in the last three days of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and he hopes to surprise viewers once he gets the money to finish the series off.
Killing off one character (or more!) hasn’t scared off fans so far. The campaign has raised $700,862 of a $750,000 goal as it heads toward its final spurt. The campaign is a test as to how much traction the web films created by Wong and his partner, Matt Arnold, have gotten to date. The episodic series has more than 64 million views after two seasons, and Wong raised more than $1 million last year in a previous campaign.
Wong says the show is like “Harry Potter, but with video games, magic, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Wong owes his existence to the Internet, so it is only fitting he is raising money from online fans. He has become a YouTube celebrity with his funny game-savvy web shows. Video Game High School is a long-form web series about a high school where students study only video games. Like Felicia Day, Wong is one of gaming’s home-grown celebrities.
The show is now distributed via Blu-ray, DVD, iTunes, Netflix, Microsoft Xbox Live, and Sony’s PlayStation Network. Variety magazine named it the “best Web series of 2013.” Game designer Cliff Bleszinski (the creator of the blockbuster Gears of War sci-fi shooter series) and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee have made cameos in the series.
The school is set in an alternate reality where professional video gaming is the biggest spectator sport. It follows Brian D, a pro gamer who attends VGHS. The third season will have six episodes and finish the series. If the funding reaches its goal, the new show will have an orchestral score, 5.1 surround sound, and a computer-generated effects like a “troll monster.”
To juice the campaign, RocketJump brought Loot Crate aboard to build an exclusive Loot Crate (these are boxes stuffed with gifts that appeal to gamers) for those who pledge $10,000 as “executive producers.” And RocketJump brought aboard Plaid Hat Games to make a VGHS board game (it’s yours if you pledge $250).
“At the end of the day, it’s about having cool stuff,” Wong said.
RocketJump will also hold a “stream-a-thon” on Friday from 3 pm to 9 pm PST, with special appearances from the cast and crew and rewards for donors. You can follow via @fwong, @rocketjumptweet, and @VGHS.
Wong has been absorbing ideas from the fans. The last season had a couple of plot points that crowdfunding donors influenced. The character known as The Law, who is the most popular character in the show, was framed for cheating in multiplayer games. Fans came up with that idea, Wong said.
Wong said there are new character in season three, such as the captain of the rival Napalm team. He made a cameo appearance at the end of the last season, and he has a bigger role now. A couple of new characters may also appear in season three, Wong said.
The show will begin shooting in March.
“We are excited to bring this season out,” Wong said. “It is the biggest and craziest season of any web series. At least that’s what we hope.”
As an aside, Wong said he chose Indiegogo over Kickstarter because it had a more international audience (the show gets more viewers from overseas as well). It also allows fundraisers to keep money raised even if a campaign doesn’t hit a target. With Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. But with Indiegogo, if you opt to give Indiegogo a higher 9 percent fee (instead of 4 percent), you can take whatever money is pledged, said Marc Hofstatter, the head of film at Indiegogo, in an interview.
“The great thing about Indiegogo is we have been global since day one,” Hofstatter said. “And Freddie has more of an international audience.”