Kickstarter has proved to be a good home for ambitious gaming development projects, as well as projects related to video games. Recently, a Dark Souls themed board game was a huge success on the crowdfunding platform, raising $5.4 million, or around £3,753, to get made.
It’s clear to see that it’s a place where gaming fans can back the games they really think they want. Developers can be more idealistic without the ‘shackles’ of bigger publishers breathing down their necks, and create the game they’ve always wanted to create. The question is, just how useful is Kickstarter for getting good games made?
There’s no doubt that there’s a lot more freedom in making games this way. When developers are funded directly by the people who want to buy the game, there’s a lot more scope for making something that little bit different and unique. Games like Faster Than Light, Neverending Nightmares and The Escapists are all great examples of what that freedom can achieve.
Kickstarter has also found itself as the home of nostalgia projects. Gamers are willing to back projects that offer to bring back some of the magic of the games of their childhood. Developers seem to love the challenge of creating a game with today’s technology, but with 8 bit sensibilities. When it’s done well, it goes really well. Games like Shovel Knight, Pillars of Eternity, and Broken Age all show what can be done when developers think this way.
Herein lies the problem, though. It’s easy for developers and gamers alike to get idealistic. It seems as though without any restrictions, it’s easy to promise the world in a game but not be able to deliver on it. Peter Molyneux, who already has a reputation for over hyping games, did this with Godus. It was touted as a successor to Black and White, a true new God game. When it came out, it was a mobile game that struggled with bugs and had plenty of microtransactions to go around.
It’s not only the ideas that can cause problems. Budgeting for game creation can be tricky, and many Kickstarter games have failed because their creators just didn’t know how much they’d need to make their vision a reality. The developers of Code Hero found this out. They promised too much too quickly, and their budget wasn’t able to keep up.
Finally, game development is similar no matter who’s doing it. Broken Age’s developers Double Fine made over $3 million on Kickstarter, after asking for just $400,000. Even so, they found they had trouble getting work done on time, having to sacrifice creative ideas, and even losing staff.
When done well, a Kickstarter campaign can bring a new and exciting game idea to life. There’s a lot of pitfalls that some developers ignore, that lead to the problems we’ve examined here. However, game creation follows similar steps no matter how you start out, so experienced developers can still use Kickstarter as a great funding platform to find fans of their game.