There’s been a lot of buzz lately about Kickstarter projects by well-known game developers on the interwebs lately. It began with Tim Schafer and his old-school “Double Fine Adventure” Kickstarter project which not only reached its funding goal in very little time, but surpassed it to record-setting levels. This got the attention of Brian Fargo of InExile Entertainment who decided to start a Kickstarter project of his own: the much requested sequel to Wasteland. Brian Fargo’s funding goals were a bit more ambitious than Schafer’s: he was aiming for $900,000 to Tim Schafer’s $400,000. Regardless, he soon attained that goal and left it behind. Last time I checked, they were at over $1.6 million in funding.
So what does this all mean? Both of these projects are ones that the game publishing companies had no interest in backing, most likely because the projects were determined to be too niche, with a limited audience, and therefore too risky to invest any money into. Kickstarter, and crowd-funding websites like it such as Indiegogo are providing an alternative to the traditional game publishing model. Game developers can now go directly to gamers to get the funding they need to make the game that both groups want to be made. As Brian Fargo and In-Exile noted on their Kickstarter page:
“This is a paradigm shift that is way bigger than Wasteland 2. This is the beginning of a new era in gaming where the developer gets to work directly with the fans to build the type of product that the fans want. No focus groups, no pitches to the marketing team, no trying to get an executive committee to group-think their way to a project green-light. Now we just have a developer with a creative idea that resonates and a group of dedicated fans who are willing to lay down their money to buy it.”
It’s an exciting time for indie developers. And it is made more exciting by the announcement of a new initiative: Kicking It Forward. Not content to rest on his laurels with the success of the Wasteland 2 campaign, Mr. Fargo has instead proposed that successful campaigns donate 5% of their profits back into the Kickstarter community to help fund other indie projects. Whether this initiative takes off or not remains to be seen, but as of this writing eleven projects have already adopted the idea and can be found listed on the new website: kickingitforward.org.