Okay, I admit, I am a Tim Schafer fan. If you know what we do at FableLabs, it should be no surprise that I love to see good stories in a game. And Schafer has produced some of the most beautiful and story-rich graphics adventure games in the past. He now turns to Kickstarter to fund his next “modern age” point-and-click adventure game. Do yourself a favor and check them out!
On the KS page, they pointed out that “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.” This is something I mentioned in my rant about in my other post about the rise of game clones in the social/freemium space. Traditional games are expensive to make, and developers have to finish all the content at the time of release because players don’t continue to download updates to content and game mechanics each time they play.
Yes, downloadable content things like Steam update are starting to change that situation slowly, but it is not the same as freemium games for one major reason. If I paid $20 up front, I need to know that I will have $20 worth of content ready for me. But if I started a game for free, I wouldn’t mind if it only has three weeks worth of content and I just have to see how the game evolves as I continue to play. So instead of having no revenue stream until the entire game is finished, freemium games can start to receive revenue at a much earlier stage.
Crowd-sourcing however, is giving game developers another viable way to fund-raise through the dev cycle. There have been a few indie games that were funded and eventually released through KS (e.g. No Time To Explain), but Double Fine just proved (this morning!) that crowd-sourcing can do a lot more. Their original pledge goal of $400k is rather small for any studio quality game, but they already hit $700k in just over 9 hours. Obviously, having Tim Schafer as a lead makes a night-and-day difference (to the point where they didn’t even need to reveal any info or screenshot on the game being made), but this reinforces two of my existing believes:
1. Story driven, click-adventure games are viable today
The recent success of Machinarium and Sword & Sworcery EP and the wild funding success of Double Fine show that there is a demand for adventure games. Their audience is somewhat different from the popular FPS, RTS, or MMORPG players, but developers are finding new ways to reach those players. We’re also seeing less adventure games focused on challenging puzzles and more focus on making sure puzzles do not impede players from progressing through the game plots.
2. Studios are finding new paths to funding and revenue outside of the old developer-publisher relationship
Whether it’s freemium, crowd-sourcing or episodic releases, developers are finding new ways to get it done without relying on a publisher. I think this bodes well for everybody, because this will allow more courageous and out-of-the-box ideas to see the light of day.
Can’t wait to see how much momentum Tim Schafer and Double Fine will generate from this KS project.