Liquid Entertainment is hoping to revive an old franchise with its upcoming Battle Realms Legends. The 15-year-old Pasadena, Calif.-based game studio launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign this week to finance its new collectible card battle game.
The game comes from a studio started by Eddy del Castillo in 1999. So far, Liquid has raised $38,487 from 234 backers with 22 days to go in its campaign to raise $100,000. If it succeeds, the company hopes to introduce a new kind of business model for its players.
“Right now, the games business treats players more like milking cows than with the respect they deserve,” del Castillo said. “We are trying to change the games business model by treating players like stockholders.”
The game is a fantasy card game where you choose a hero from among the Dragon or Lotus clans. You recruit, assemble, and train your troops. You play against friends in competitive, live action player-versus-player mode, much like with Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The lead designer is Rico Sablan.
Del Castillo said the company securely tracks its card inventory and where every card is in the system. Each card is like a “share” of Battle Realms Legends, with higher-ranking cards being treated to preferred classes of stock. The more cards a given player collects, the more “ownership” he or she has in the game. The company also judges a player’s time investment by looking at things like in-game progress, activity in the game, and other metrics.
Every quarter, the cardholders are invited to an online meeting where they can hear about the status of the game, the plans for its future, and offer their own opinions. The top owners will be invited to a board of advisors that will convene on important subjects.
From time to time, Liquid Entertainment will issue dividends to the cardholders in the form of premium game currency (currency that is normally only gained from real cash transactions). This enables players to get premium currency just for owning cards in the game. Del Castillo hopes the new shareholder model will be a sea change in how the industry looks at its customers.
Del Castillo believes that game makers should think about the time that players spend with companies as an investment.
“Our rivals are constantly working to figure out how to addict players to their product and how to use the psychology of compulsive behavior to get more money out of their players,” he said. “They treat them like dairy cows. Just keeping them around to milk them. We see the time players give us as an investment and we’re looking to give them tangible value for their time.”
Liquid Entertainment has 10 employees. Del Castillo, who has been making games since 1991, started the studio because he wanted to build games that fans would love for decades. That’s what happened with the original Battle Realms game. During the past 15 years, the company has kept making games in an effort to prove that it has what it takes to endure. Del Castillo has worked as a designer on titles like Command & Conquer and Command & Conquer: Red Alert.