Welcome to the ZTGD Reviewer Rodeo. Each week, we’ll grab on to the hottest issue, hold on for dear life, and wrassle it to the ground.
This week we take a look at the recent surge of Kickstarter, a way for developers to fund their own games with the help of the community. Is it a dream come true, or a nightmare just waiting to implode? Find out what we think about the matter.
Dave “boxdp” Payerle
Kickstarter projects give us as gamers the ability to vote with our dollars on what kind of games we want, giving developers and publishers a reason to make those games. Everyone has a favorite old franchise they would love to see again, but for those creating the games, the question is often how many people say they want it, versus how many people will actually buy it if we make it. Kickstarter can remedy that problem, since it gives the developer an opportunity to gauge interest in a tangible way, while lessening the cost of development, and therefore the risk.
While this model gives gamers direct influence on what gets made, it also requires us to assume some of that risk. Financing a Kickstarter project is making an investment on the hopes of a good return, but your input ends once the developer has your money – you have no control or influence on the creative or development process. It’s your money, but you’re still paying for someone else’s vision, meaning that the end product may not match the vision you had for the game. It’s a tradeoff – without Kickstarter certain games wouldn’t get made, but by financing them you’re giving up your ability to make a purchase determination on a game based on reviews or playing a demo.
So, what happens if you finance a game and you don’t like the story? Given the uproar over the Mass Effect 3 ending, how would the people complaining feel if they didn’t only purchase the game, but financed its development? What happens if you finance a project and the final game is total garbage? With a company like Double Fine (and their track record with adventure games), you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get, but it’s important to remember that financing a project gives you no more ownership of the product than purchasing the completed game. Kickstarter is like eBay in the respect that making sure you’re giving your money to credible developers lessens your chance of disappointment. It’s still a risk though, and it will be interesting to see the reaction as Kickstarter-funded projects start coming out.
Drew “FrustratedFury” Leachman
The Kickstarter bandwagon has been jumped on, tipped over, and slowly been pushed off to the side of the road waiting for Triple A. I really think it was a great idea. Larger, well known companies could help get a new and original product off the ground while small companies with some great ideas got more recognition and a little money to get them started. Now, I think it has kind of gotten out of hand to be honest. It seems like everyone and their brother now has a Kickstarter project going on. It’s almost like the big podcast boom a few years ago. Podcasts were new and everyone wanted one. Then you saturate the market with too many “ok” and “not so good” ideas and Kickstarter loses a lot of credibility.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been some great things come out of Kickstarter: a new Double Fine adventure game, Wasteland 2, and even a new Shadowrun, but after a few good runs with the service, you eventually have to hang it up. Will we see the end to Kickstarter any time soon? I highly doubt it, but what I don’t doubt is that we won’t be seeing many big hitters coming up with new stuff through Kickstarter. Amazing how this medium gained popularity and within 3 months, become overrun to the point where people are sick of even hearing the name Kickstarter. Don’t worry too much, there’s an all new Kickstarter like program just for video game development. Don’t believe me? Check out Gambitious.
So, I take the good with the bad when it comes to KickStarter. Much like anything that’s popular, you have to shuffle through some crap to find the gems, but at the end of the day, I went through too much crap only to find two cubic zirconia rings…