When you fail, dust yourself off and try Steam instead.
That is the plan that developer Turbo Pixel is pursuing with its arena shooter Reflex for PC. Last month, the studio launched a Kickstarter project for the Quake-like Reflex, which asked fans to help contribute a total of $360,000. With that money, Turbo Pixel would have completed development and launched a final product. But with 11 days left and only $81,000 raised, the company is closing its crowdfunding campaign. But smaller studios have multiple means to get gamers to help pay for development. The company has revealed that it will relaunch Reflex on Steam’s Early Access portal, which enables developers to sell unfinished products and get feedback from an audience of curious gamers.
Reflex went up on Greenlight earlier today. This is the Valve program that enables indie developers to get on Steam as long as they have enough community support. Fans have already pushed Reflex through the Greenlight process, and it will appear on Steam when it is ready.
“Right now, Reflex feels good,” reads an update from Turbo Pixel on its Kickstarter. “We think it feels good, pro-gamers think it feels good, and new players think it feels good. We’ve succeeded in capturing the best parts of the arena-shooter genre in a new, lean engine. Unfortunately, this is something that’s hard to sell through videos and marketing bullet points.”
The studio acknowledged that it needs to have people play its game so that they better understand why it’s worth supporting. That led it to reconsider its strategy and to embrace Early Access.
“[We’re] focusing all of our development towards getting the game ready for Early Access,” reads the Kickstarter post. “This work has already started — that’s why we’ve been a bit quiet the last few days. We’ve got a little bit more time than usual that we’d set aside for the Kickstarter and we’re now cramming as much development into that time as we possibly can.”
While dozens of games makers have found success with crowdfunding, nearly as many have used Early Access to fund their development. This includes the indie megahit Minecraft, which debuted in a very early state in 2009. Players could buy the game for $20 long before it hit its “final” 1.0 retail release in 2011. Since then, other games like NASA simulator Kerbal Space Program and the open-world online zombie-survival game Day Z have used the same model.
“And we’re excited about the change,” Turbo Pixel wrote. “It’s much closer to the approach we’ve always wanted to take.”
The studio explained that it decided to go with Kickstarter because it gave them the potential shot at developing Reflex full-time. With Early Access, the developers at Turbo Pixel will not make any promises about delivering certain features or hitting release dates, which is something they wanted to do with the Kickstarter.