Before this editorial begins, it is vital to disclose that Adeki did pledge $30 to Broken Age, which was at the time still known as “Double Fine Adventure” back in 2012. When asked for comment, he replied that it was “worth it” but he was also “glad that it was only $30” although Adeki would have loved that art book had it been cheaper. Back on topic, it is no secret that while some good has come from Kickstarter, there has obviously been a numerous amount of not-so-happy backers as well. Like it or not, there are a multitude of backers, in this context video game project specific, that have pledged a considerable amount of money to projects that ended up either flopping, cancelling, and disappointing the backer. While this could be seen as a very minute problem for some projects, such as if a handful of backers were sad with one specific plot point or character in the game, as long as they are in the minority it could be deemed as acceptable. Never will there be a Kickstarter that draws no ire from a backer, except maybe the famous “Potato Salad Kickstarter” which can be seen as some of the greatest performance art to be documented electronically. No matter, there is a humongous problem when the majority of backers feel misled or disappointed by their pledge and this can either fall upon the naivety of the backer, the untrustworthiness of the project creator, or both rolled into one heaping mess. So, this editorial will cover three video game projects that were crowdfunded through Kickstarter that left the majority of backers with a sour taste in their mouths.
First up, to no one’s surprise, is Broken Age which was previously known as “Double Fine Adventure” during the time of the Kickstarter campaign in early 2012. With a modest, if not unrealistic funding goal of $400,000 (given that one-fourth of that amount was supposed to be used for filming the documentary), Double Fine’s Kickstarter campaign was backed in about nine hours. This is in part thanks to the cult success of titles such as Psychonauts keeping Double Fine relevant, but largely due to the overwhelming amount of fans of the point n’ click genre who felt unfulfilled with the current pickings. Given Tim Schafer’s development and writing background on many classic adventure titles, many were unsurprisingly swayed and threw in their support in hopes of getting a new one. So, by the end of the campaign Double Fine had accrued over $3 million dollars with over 87,000 backers as well. Unfortunately, this was only enough to make the first act of Broken Age which was released two years after the initial Kickstarter campaign. This was done as so that Double Fine could sell the first half of the game in order to fund the second half, which is pretty ridiculous on their part. While it can be forgivable to delay a game due to it just not being done in time, it is a completely different matter to effectively run out of money half way through development when the original funding goal was about one-eigth of what was raised in total. This raises numerous questions about said original funding goal and the product they would have been able to deliver if any. While an indie game development team compromised of 2 or 3 people could most likely create a game with the full $400,000, it would be extremely interesting to see the quality product made by a full development team with only $300,000 to make a game as the rest of the budget would go to a documentary. In the end, the full product was released three years after the Kickstarter campaign in April of 2015, and the majority of backers felt as though Double Fine did not stay truthful to their initial goals and the first (funded) act was much better than the second (running out of money) act. While Broken Age can be seen as a sort of failure in crowdfunding video games, it did encourage other developers of the past to crowdfund new games in their franchises such as “Tex Murphy” and “Leisure Suit Larry” which is not such a bad thing. That, and the documentary filmed detailing the development of the game was surprisingly open and can be an entertaining watch if one is interested.
Next, is easily one of the most bizarre campaigns that many have seen so far, which was at the time known as “Yogsventures.” For those not in the social loop, the game was planned to be an open world sandbox game based on the group of Youtubers known as Yogscast, who can attribute a large majority of their popularity to videos done in Minecraft. So, they decided to get their fanbase together and were able to crowdfund over $500,000 in order to fund their project back in 2012. While the updates seemed to be flowing normally, if not a bit slow, pre-alphas and a beta were released to backers, followed by a one year period of silence until the bad news arrived. However, there was already trouble in paradise not too long after the game was funded, which is not surprising given that it was the development studio’s first game. They also made some hefty promises involving their game that seemed quite unrealistic for their size and budget as it was effectively looking to be Minecraft 2 but as an RPG as well. It was a bit confusing in terms of a pitch, and while the estimated delivery showed December 2012 which would be seemingly impossible, the reality was that the beta would be out by December 2012 and the alpha would be out November 2012, which was only slightly less impossible. Obviously, this did not happen, and the alpha was not released until March 2013, and by August the developers already showed financial concerns admitting that they ran out of the initial Kickstarted money by December 2012 and had to go back to their regular jobs so they could develop the game on the side. So, the developers began funding the game themselves by the time the beta was due in December, but did actually release a beta in August. Cut to a year of silence on their Kickstarter updates after that, and the developers announced that the game had been cancelled in July of 2014. The developer studio’s founder announced they were shut down, giving an in-depth note explaining how the game’s development cost him his marriage, and almost both of his jobs (TMI?). In response, Yogscast, wrote a letter stating that they were “under no obligation to do anything” in regards to their Kickstarter being cancelled. This was a lie based on Kickstarter’s own rules and regulations, but instead the people of Yogscast were able to give backers what they never wanted or asked for: Steam codes for a different game made by completely different people that the developers happened to be friends with. So, the entire matter ended up being a gigantic mess, leaving over 13,000 disappointed people and at least one broken marriage, apparently.
To end this editorial, the game that many surely expected when reading the title of the editorial, Mighty No. 9 which even has a review on our site! However, this editorial will not look into the overall quality of the title, which is debatable depending on who one may ask, but instead the overwhelmingly negative response the finished project derived from its backers. Mighty No. 9‘s Kickstarter campaign launched in September of 2013 and was funded about two days after the campaign’s creation. In reaction this, a medley of stretch goals were added and in the end the campaign was backed four times its original goal. Things were looking up for the development team in charge, Comcept, and it looked as if fans could probably get the “Mega Man” fix they had been craving since Mega Man 10 all thanks to Keiji Inafune who was set as project lead. Problem being, Keiji Inafune, although having been in the gaming industry for a while, was mainly just a illustrator and character designer for the original “Mega Man” games, not the leader in anyway. Starting with Mega Man 8 he became a producer of future titles in the franchise but moved his focus from the traditional “Mega Man” games to others, making it understandably confusing as to why backers would be enthused with him being the project lead besides lack of research and a larger focus on the bold words in the campaign text. So, the game ran into multiple delays and went far past its original release window of April 2015, and was instead released in June of 2016. To make matters worse though, before the game was even released, Comcept started another Kickstarter campaign named “Red Ash,” based off of titles in the “Mega Man Legends” franchise which the development team was admittedly more accustomed to, which almost everyone took issue with as it showed greed since the first game the development team got money for was not even done yet. The Kickstarter failed to reach its funding goal of $800,000, but was instead saved and funded by the Chinese company Fuze, so thankfully backers were not roped into another scheme. Back to Mighty No. 9 though, when the game was actually released a medley of issues arised as many backers were either not getting the keys they were promised or were getting duplicate codes, showing the level of disorganization on Comcept’s part. Upon release, almost every part of the game was criticized by backers and critics alike, whether it be the design, voice acting, gameplay, art style, or low frame rate (even worse on the Wii U, and troubling for the future 3DS release). Things got so bad on Comcept’s part, that even the trailer for the game was terrible, with explosion effects that were compared to pizza and a line making fun of anime fans despite the game’s obvious Japanese basis as well as “Red Ash” planning to have an anime coincide with it. To put the final mark on the coffin, the official Sonic the Hedgehog twitter even made fun of Mighty No. 9, and when a game is in the position to be made fun of by Sonic the Hedgehog, it means things have gone terribly wrong.
Whoomp, there it is, a crash course on how not to fund a game using Kickstarter. It is advisable to not allocate one-fourth of the game’s entire budget to a documentary, not develop the game on the side because the development team ran out of money within the year, and to not trust an illustrator to make a video game. Now, just imagine if one Kickstarter was able to hit all three of those nails on the head! Oh, one can only dream of a train to derail in such a spectacular way. But until then, backers will always have Paris. What did you think of this editorial? Too long and unwieldy or the perfect amount of detail mixed with sass? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!