The lights are on
Tim Schafer and Double Fine launched another Kickstarter today while their previously Kickstarted game is still deep in development. Are you still on board?
Double Fine isn’t the only company to go down this route. Brian Fargo’s Inxile Entertainment is still cranking away at Wasteland 2 and successfully got Torment: Tides of Numenaria funded at an even higher level. Plenty of developers are on the Kickstarter bandwagon, and it’s been a fantastic tool to breathe life into fan-favorite projects that traditional publishers have been failing to fund for years.
For all the good that Kickstarter does, though, there are dangers inherent to the crowdfunding model as well. Independent developers are notorious for robbing Peter to pay Paul, like running multiple teams and using funds intended for one project on another in order to get it out the door – only to have to find additional funding later to get the second project back on track. (In fairness to those developers, doing so has arisen because the economics of being an independent studio are extremely difficult thanks to the terms they’re forced to labor under with traditional-publisher contracts.) With Kickstarter and its ilk, there is no oversight whatsoever in how the money garnered by a crowdfunding campaign is spent.
Now, obviously, the developers in question value their reputations highly and would only risk their fans’ good will with such tactics if the alternative were even worse…say, releasing a clearly incomplete Kickstarted game because they ran out of money. And to be clear, there is no evidence whatsoever that Inxile or Obsidian or Double Fine or any other studio is engaging in such behavior, and we do not mean to cast doubt on anyone’s good faith (and, for that matter, Broken Age, Project Eternity, and Wasteland 2 all look awesome).
At the end of the day, do you worry about these issues? Or do you approach each Kickstarter on the strength of its pitch and leave the economics for studio heads to worry about?