Kickstarter has become a big deal as of late. Don’t have any money? Got a great idea and the skills to pull it off? Kickstarter may be the answer for you. Tons of things are getting funded on this site… anything from movies, card games, board games, books, and various technology solutions for everyday life. The way Kickstarter works is you build a project, launch it on the website, and then people fund your project if interested. If you reach your funding goal before the goal deadline, then you receive all the funding (minus a Kickstarter fee) to create and sell your product. If you don’t reach your funding goal, all the money goes back to the funders. There are also rewards for funding, such as the product you are Kickstarting, and stretch goals that can be reached if the funding goal is reached before the goal deadline.
The part of Kickstarter I find the most interesting these days is that several big name developers are actually using it to fund games that publishers don’t want to take a chance on. My personal favorite is Shovel Knight, which raised $311,502 thanks to 14,749 backers. Shovel Knight is an 8-bit throwback game for various systems and has gotten tremendous reviews among gaming critics.
The most funded video game at this time is a title called Shenmue 3. For those that don’t know, Shenmue was a title on the Sega Dreamcast which was widely renowned and loved by fans worldwide. Shenmue 2 then came out and after that Sega stopped selling hardware and the series was halted. Fans have been asking for another game in the Shenmue series, however, few publishers were willing to back the obscure title. The game raised $6,333,295 thanks to 69,320 backers.
Another title that made millions was the brainchild of Koji Igarashi, the Castlevania series producer starting with Castlevania Chronicles. The game is called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Koji left Konami, a large game developer, to freelance and produce games that he enjoys making that Konami wouldn’t help him fund.
The game raised $5,545,991 thanks to 64,867 backers. Another video game creator, Keiji Inafune, created a title Mighty No. 9. The game is modeled after Mega Man, a game that large game developer Capcom declines to make any new titles for despite fan interest. Similar to Koji, Keiji left Capcom to create games that he was unable to get funded at the major gaming studio.
So now that you know a little about Kickstarter and some of its success stories, you should know that there is a lot of controversy surrounding game developers that use the service. Typically these game developers are fairly well off based on the success of their prior franchises so why do they ultimately need the funding? Also, some titles also received funding and special treatment at this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) like Shenmue 3. Sony paraded the title around and showed support for the Kickstarter in a marketing push that made a lot of fans upset. Games typically went to Kickstarter to get away from the influence of big named publishers. When Sony tries to promote a Kickstarter that it really shouldn’t have any involvement with, fans wonder why their money was needed to begin with.
Games like Shovel Knight, however, are a chance for a developer to pitch an idea to the gaming community and make sure there is still interest in the genre. With Kickstarter, game developers can get money upfront for ideas that would cost possibly thousands of dollars to vet elsewhere. Don’t know if that new 3D platformer will sell? Well Kickstart it and if you have enough interest you can make the game. If you don’t get funded, all you lose is just the minimal time and effort you spent on the Kickstarter. It’s much cheaper than creating a game no one wants and then losing millions on it due to lack of interest.