Tim Schafer, the founder of Double Fine Productions, is known not only for his vivid history in video games, but also for his complicated track record with crowdfunding. Back in February of 2012, Double Fine launched a Kickstarter simply titled “Double Fine Adventure,” promising a new point and click adventure game from the studio. A game genre that was previously described as being relatively dead by many due either to a dearth in development by others or possibly a lack of awareness on the consumer’s side. The campaign launched with a goal of 400,000 dollars and famously made that goal seven times over, which was unprecedented in the crowdfunding area of video games as the highest amount previously was a mere 100,000 for a video game website known as VenusPatrol.com which was created by previous Independent Games Festival Chairman, Brandon Boyer. More recently, despite the financial fiasco that arose from the first Double Fine crowdfunding experience, Tim Schafer launched the Fig platform as a way to circumvent Kickstarter fees, and introduce an investment system amongst other reasons. Currently the platform has a 2:3 success ratio as Psychonauts 2 recently reached its funding goal alongside Outer Wilds in September of 2015 while Anchors in the Drift just barely reached 21% of its half a million dollar goal back in November of 2015. Overall, Tim Schafer has definitely made an impact when it comes to crowdfunding as a whole and has created a sense of buzz when it comes to bringing older video games back to modern audiences as he led an example by showing it could be done, leading to newer titles such as Yooka-Laylee, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and Lufia: The Heroes Legacy.
Now, one of those titles is admittedly different from the others as it was cancelled after about two days, but it does raise a good point, some people are fools and Kickstarter has proven to be a tool to harness this foolishness and try to bring in other foolish people to create what can only be described as a FoolFest. For example, Lufia: The Heroes Legacy asked for 40,000 Australian dollars without actually securing the rights to Lufia and miraculously got 102 dollars from 3 backers before it was abruptly ended by the creator. However, this 102 dollar amount is awkward to say the least as the minimum pledge reward was for 100 dollars which promised the first demo of the game alongside “Lufia” art. The campaign itself could be dissected for a good half an hour as it contains a lot of quote worthy material and a jarring lack of substance with great tidbits such as “Im currently working on the story and in depth character personalities, im also thinking about an mmorpg if this is succesful” and “There will be 20 swords you can aquire during the game and you can name one of them!” Note that this is only if a customer were to pledge 300 dollars or more, as this is a campaign built on reasonability and not flair.
Of course, this “Lufia” campaign is just one of many that are unfortunately not being run on sound practices such as the recent “Open World RPG ‘like’ Star Wars Game” campaign being run by Devin. No, there was no omission of a last name, Devin just chose not to supply on that front. He also made the creative choice to not supply on a large amount of fronts such as providing any concept art, trailer, basically anything. Rather, he talked about how he wanted to hire a team to create a game that could rival titans such as Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This was the entirety of the campaign and he asked for 200,000 dollars and has so far acquired over 18,000 because life is suffering and some people just do not deserve to have money. Surprisingly, four people have actually donated 1,500 dollars or more to obtain the pledge reward of “Small contribution inside the game, like your name appearing as one of the characters in the game or a planet named after you, or a special light saber that you help create.” Though, it is very possible that these are joke pledges as the transaction does not appear on the card until the campaign has achieved its goal and met its final day of funding, both of which do not seem terribly likely for this abomination of a crowdfunding campaign. However, it would be unfair not to mention that Devin has owned business ranging from clothing to stocks, learned and changed a lot in “such short time” and that he is better prepared for the future to come according to his very own Kickstarter bio.
In the end, no, it is not Tim Schafer’s fault people are ridiculous and make ridiculous crowdfunding campaigns, but it is an appropriate statement to say that Schafer changed the way in which indie developers viewed websites such as Kickstarter in order to create video games and could possibly even be thanked for the rise of video game stars blasting into the modern era from the past. The problem in the future however, will be to see if these games can actually deliver on the feelings they promise they can recapture from so long ago, or if they are actually just as disappointing as Devin trying to make a game. Poor, poor Devin.
What do you think of what crowdfunding in video games has become? Do you think its been an overall positive impact for smaller developers who might not have been able to get their games made otherwise? Make sure to leave a comment below and let others know what you think.