Fig - Crowd-funding/investing for game development

Instead of just crowd-funding and getting a t-shirt or collectible figure as a backer reward, how about getting an actual cut of the game’s profits? (Project CARS tried this, but ran into regulatory issues.) Meet Fig. It’s the brainchild of Justin Bailey, formerly of Double Fine. The board will include Feargus Urquhart, Brian Fargo and Tim Schafer.

For the initial offerings, they’re requiring accredited investors with $1 million in assets. They eventually want to open it up to anyone that wants to invest in projects. The first project up is Outer Wilds by Masi Oka (Heroes’ Hiro Nakumura).

Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Double Fine Productions will use Fig to help fund their future products.

So it is a funding site being run by the main people asking for the funding?

I think I would be wary of investing unless there is a Project Team that has the ability to enforce deadlines.

Ah yes, Justin “I Was Hired to Reign Tim In But Completely Failed to Do So Oh God Where is All the Money” Bailey.

I do wish those companies luck in funding in the future via an unproven platform. Maybe they hope to recreate the success of their own early Kickstarters (particularly since totals for games seem to be shrinking year by year on KS itself), but I honestly can’t see this working out super well for anyone :-/

The question for me is what is the return on investment? The minimum is $1000 for accredited investors only. What do you get back?

I see pledge levels from $50 to $10000… I see nothing about accredited investors in the about page. Where did you get the info?

Right now it seems like kickstarter but with pre-curation by the site.

Edit: Ah, I see now. So they have normal pledges plus the ability for investors to pledge real money through the site. And they combine towards the goal.

2nd edit: so this is my take. This is like a regular crowdfunding site with the added ability to get crowdfunded real investors in. I seriusly doubt the usefulness of getting real investors in through a website, versus going through typical investors rounds, but whatever. Certainly the fact that a game with not enough regular backer support can suddenly “make” it with the help of private investment raises my alarm bells (investments do not pay a fee, so the not that uncommon practice of pledging to your own kickstarter becomes even easier, since you don’t lose any money in the transaction). This seems like legislative hell, honestly. Also, probably will have trouble opening to international investors (not that big of a deal).

Now, what I find interesting is the existence of a gaming-specific, curated crowfunding site aiming at a low volume of projects (2 per month) should they attain enough users, this could make this arrangement easier to sustain than Kickstarter). It will raise ethical questions should the founders present games of their own studios through the platform (in detriment of other games that don’t therefore pass curation).

Yes, anyone can join in on the normal crowd-funding. To invest, you need to drop at least $1000 and you have to show them you have $1 million in current net assets.

Finally, I can invest a million dollars in a Double Fine project. This is like a dream come true. What could possibly go wrong?

We call our latest title Money Trap, which my lawyers tell me I’m not allowed to say shouldn’t be taken as a commentary on our business practices at all.

On the one hand, this all seems perfectly reasonable.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think of Gathering of Developers.

Gambitious already tried that a few years ago. Did not went well.

Is “gambitious” a portmanteau of “gamble” and “ambitious”? Because that would explain why it didn’t go well.

As for Double Fine, well, I can’t say this is unexpected. They’ve been looking for their own “Star Citizen” for quite a while…

This is pretty ridiculous. If I have millions in assets, and I want to invest in video game development, I am going to go to a legitimate investment group who can work with me to identify developers with projects I want to invest in, then insure that my investment at least buys me a specified stake in the company with all associated rights and returns. This is basically game companies looking for angel investors willing to shell out thousands of dollars to be associated with their project with no real expectation that there will ever be return on the investment.

Will there only ever be one project at a time?

Maybe, terms of investor contracts are not public. It feels that once you are an investor it’s just a regular LLC share stuff. the website is just a funnel to capture those investors.

They want to release two projects per month. So probably two simultaneous projects.

Austin Walker posted a good look at FIG.

This stuff is complicated, and it’s one more reminder that the game industry sits in a huge web of other factors and influences, many of which are hard to predict or understand. The development of Regulation A+ offerings meant that this day was coming one way or another; there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. And as far as a first entrant into this process goes, Fig seems alright. I like the service’s focused design, and I think that a curated platform is a good test bed for this stuff. But I also know that a lot can go wrong when new ground is broken. And now that Fig’s gone live, I have to imagine that other services will be rushing to offer similar services.