Now more than ever, video games funded by Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding websites have been growing in popularity. This has reached the point where two video games, Shenmue 3 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night have placed within the top ten most-funded Kickstarter projects of all time. This is no minor feat, with Shenmue 3 finishing at approximately six million dollars pledged and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night finishing with an estimated five million dollars collected, with neither figure including the substantial quantities of money received outside of the Kickstarter campaign. If anything, these numbers show where fan loyalty lies: in this case, with developers who fans believe they know and can trust–developers who are making games that either continue the story of childhood favorites, or that revitalize such favorites for a modern audience.
For example, Yooka-Laylee gathered an approximated three million dollars through a campaign led by several key members who worked for famous developer Rare during the Nintendo 64 generation of development. Although newcomers to the collect-a-thon style of platformers have backed the campaign, more than anything Yooka-Laylee‘s appeal for funds seems to be a campaign that owes its success to nostalgia. While usually seen as a positive affect–bringing back fond memories of days long gone–nostalgia can be a very powerful (and on occasion, dangerous) sentiment. Nostalgia can then lead consumers to buy products that they do not end up enjoying, all for the sake of chasing after their past memories.
As many gamers know, Mighty No. 9 has been the most recent center of attention when it comes to video games funded through Kickstarter. The attention given to Mighty No. 9 is largely owing to delays both for the game itself as well as the demo (itself offered as an apology for game delays), with other frustrations proceeding from underwhelming gameplay videos that fans felt did not live up to their expectations of Mega Man-esque quality gameplay. As if this were not enough, Keji Inafune, the co-creator of Mega Man and the founder of Comcept (the company behind Mighty No. 9), announced another game titled Red Ash before the demo for Mighty No. 9 had even released. Both game campaigns had their fair share of negative backlash, leaving fans in dismay about the finished project–a dismay which is understandable considering the nearly four million dollars in public funds raised using the campaign, alongside the disappointing, even avaricious, launch of Red Ash with funding goals felt to be excessive. When the newest project failed to receive enough funding, Comcept instead went with a publisher, leaving fans to wonder whether appealing to their goodwill had been necessary in the first place.
Although, this has not been the first time that games based on nostalgia have been received negatively. Double Fine’s, Double Fine Adventure campaign, now known as Broken Age, has also been a source of contention, and eventual frustration, for fans. What was promised as a revitalization of the adventure game genre–and in a campaign seen by many as the main event that led to the influx of video game projects on Kickstarter–had more than a few bumps on the road to its own release. The most notable impediment was Double Fine’s decision to divide the game into two halves, ensuring that those who did not pledge to the campaign could purchase the first half of the game, which would then give Double Fine more funds to work with in order to create the second half of the game.
The decision to divide the title proved to be divisive for both those who did and those who did not pledge money to the game. While some argued that it was a positive decision made in order to get more money to make an ultimately better game, others responded that it was not what the Kickstarter campaign had promised and that it felt instead as if their money had been abysmally mismanaged, citing the use of the full game’s campaign worth of funds to produce less than half of what was originally promised. This left more than a few people deeply embittered with their experience on Kickstarter, while others are even now continuing to help finance projects on the site, ensuring that Kickstarter is more popular than ever. What will be seen of unreleased games like Yooka-Laylee is a matter for speculation, but the success of Yooka-Laylee‘s developers could be a significant factor in determining the future of video game projects on Kickstarter as a whole in terms of popularity and structure.
What do you think of the recent trend of Kickstarter games achieving popularity through nostalgia? Have you recently backed a Kickstarter project because of past memories? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to check come back next week for more!