Double Fine, the independent development studio behind such titles as Psychonauts and Stacking, decided to try something a little different in an effort to fund an upcoming, old-school-style adventure game that they want to make. They started a Kickstarter page, in an effort to crowdsource their efforts to raise funding for it:
Big games cost big money. Even something as “simple” as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title can cost upwards of two or three million dollars. For disc-based games, it can be over ten times that amount. To finance the production, promotion, and distribution of these massive undertakings, companies like Double Fine have to rely on external sources like publishers, investment firms, or loans. And while they fulfill an important role in the process, their involvement also comes with significant strings attached that can pull the game in the wrong directions or even cancel its production altogether. Thankfully, viable alternatives have emerged and gained momentum in recent years.
Crowd-sourced fundraising sites like Kickstarter have been an incredible boon to the independent development community. They democratize the process by allowing consumers to support the games they want to see developed and give the developers the freedom to experiment, take risks, and design without anyone else compromising their vision. It’s the kind of creative luxury that most major, established studios simply can’t afford. At least, not until now.
They set their goal at a modest level: $400,000 raised by March 13th, 2012 (far less than the $2 million mentioned above!). They hit and exceeded that goal in just eight hours, and are currently sitting at $705,510 (as of the time this article was drafted; they may well be north of a million dollars at the time of its publication).
RPS, among other, notes that this raises some pretty interesting questions about the future of indie game development, and game development in general. After all, Tim Schafer — the head of Double Fine and an adventure game development legend — couldn’t get publishers to sign off on investing in the project; adventure gaming is (supposedly) dead. And yet, when he asked the audience, they couldn’t give him money fast enough! ($710,123 now, by the way.)
So how “in touch” with what the gaming audience wants are the major publishers, exactly?
Heh…did I just ask that question on an Ultima website? ($714,105)
Exit question: Could any of the projects I cover on Aiera perhaps be supported this way? Sanctimonia, maybe?
The First Age of Update: Double Fine has announced the platforms the game will be released on, and as you might expect, it’s the usual list of suspects: PC, Mac, iOS, and some versions of Android. Oh, and one more: Linux. Because Double Fine are cool like that.