From Kickstarter and Indiegogo to Fig: How crowdfunding changed gaming

From Kickstarter and Indiegogo to Fig: How crowdfunding changed gaming

Pioneers of innovation

But remember, video-game development hasn’t always been this way. Times are changing and games aren’t always funded by the same AAA companies any more – there’s more diversity than ever. Just like anything, crowdfunding had to start somewhere.

“I think the shift really started to happen back when a lot of the mid-tier publishers like THQ and Midway started going under.”

“I think the shift really started to happen back when a lot of the mid-tier publishers like THQ and Midway started going under,” said John Vaskis, the senior director of hardware, technology and design at Indiegogo. “Bigger publishers tended to focus on known quantities that made money and no-one really filled that void. Lots of people and developers still had these ideas that were great and innovative that they wanted to get out there.

Back in the day, or just a couple of console generations ago, digital distribution wasn’t really a thing. It was hardly even a concept, especially for console gaming. Fast-forward to the dawn of online marketplaces and other avenues for providing products to consumers, and the industry becomes dramatically different. With that shift in ways to access games also came a shift in ways of funding those games. “A lot of games went free-to-play,” explained Vaskis. “That closed off the front-end appeal to a lot of publishers. So things like more casual mobile titles become more popular and a big portion of the industry was moving away from large console and PC titles as a result.”


(Above: Mighty No. 9 by comcept, funded on Kickstarter)

Kickstarting a revolution

As the market continues to widen and expand, so too do the opportunities. Crowdfunding isn’t reserved just for small indie studios that couldn’t get support anywhere else; established game creators are leaving their comfortable posts at top publishers and developers to branch off on their own and create the games they want to make as well. Mighty No. 9 from Keiji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man, raised more than $3.8 million on Kickstarter.

“In 2015 alone, Kickstarter has helped fund more than 2,000 games, 20 of which hit $1 million or more in pledges,” said Luke Crane, head of games at Kickstarter. “It’s clear that creators are in good company here, and backers trust Kickstarter as the place to support projects they love.” And he’s right – those kinds of numbers speak for themselves. If you think of any popular indie game released in the past few years, chances are that it was funded on Kickstarter. But at the same time, you’re left wondering how much of that has to do with the established hype surrounding Oculus Rift and nostalgia for games such as the Baldur’s Gate-like Pillars of Eternity. Did Kickstarter really have anything to do with that? From my sporadic conversations with Kickstarter campaign managers, I’m not so sure.

“On Kickstarter, you’re part of a larger cultural conversation, putting games on equal footing with art, film and music,” said Crane. “As a creator, you’re part of a network of thousands of capable, intelligent and compassionate alumni who are willing to offer advice and support.” However, it’s easy to get buried. Since platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter are so big now, with so many different funding categories, it can be incredibly difficult for a game to really stand out any more. That is, unless it gets featured, which is increasingly difficult to do as more time passes.

The road ahead

It’s safe to say that Kickstarter and Indiegogo have established themselves in the market. With big-name projects such as Psychonauts 2 already succeeding on their platform, it’s safe to say that Fig may be onto something as well.

However, successful crowdfunding requires a significant amount of not only time and energy, but also passion and honesty. If games on Fig aren’t delivered on time or fail to meet expectations, developers are not only answering to people that backed a project, but to thousands of investors as well. That’s a different and larger animal.

Concerns and unanswered questions aside, it’s hard not to be hopeful for the direction they’re taking. “Crowdfunding has allowed developers to get directly in touch with their communities to help fund their games, and that’s very powerful,” said Bailey. “By retaining creative control, developers are able to innovate more than they’ve been allowed to in the past and have true ownership of their properties. There’s a mission to what we’re doing [at Fig], and it’s not something obscure: it’s focused on enabling video-game creators to be independent and successful.”

Next: How the worlds of poetry and gaming are coming together

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos