Backed at a Reward level. Not enough confidence in DF to invest, but I’d like to see the Return of Raz.
It seems to me that the repeated trips to crowdfunding are plenty of evidence their games aren’t making profit.
I have regarded crowdfunding in this context to be basically a full-price preorder with nearly all of the money going to the dev without the middlemen taking their cut. That initial buy-in works as proof of market interest and allows a developer to have a startup revenue source without selling the property to a publisher (who often wants the whole IP in exchange for advance funding) from the start. Publishers were abusing their power as gatekeepers to the game market, and this created another outlet that allows the dev to bargain from a more advantageous position.
That said, DF has been caught doing early access in a slightly abusive way with DF9, in that they did not disclose that the game’s development was contingent on maintaining a certain level of EA sales so that the game could essentially fund itself.
It’s at 93% with 12 days to go. I thought this would be a no-brainer for me, but I’m still not pulling the trigger yet. I wonder how many people are holding back because of DF’s past crowdfunding exploits.
Really? I think the repeated trips to crowdfunding are plenty of evidence that they make a profit on crowd funding.
I think based on what they’ve said publicly, Double Fine appreciates that they don’t have to tailor their experience around what a publisher wants them to do and can work directly with public funding to make the game they presumably want to make. But of course if they couldn’t make any money doing it, why would they bother?
I feel like something poisons my thoughts about crowdfunding. I can’t seem to shake a sense that it’s “begging”. So take whatever I say about it with a grain of salt. I would like to change that because it is clearly an important element of the game funding landscape these days. Fig is right up my alley: it’s clearly no longer just charity; there’s a chance for equity.
Traditional model: Publisher fronts developer money. Developer pays its people during development. When (or if) the game goes on sale, publisher takes a hefty percentage of the revenue, and the developer gets a small share of royalties.
Kickstarter model: Developer solicits funds from people who would like to see the product exist. The majority of these people will get a copy of the game on release, some have paid in more for rewards that do not scale with their cost. Developer makes a game (in about 33% of cases) which it then offers to the market as a commercial product. Developer takes 100% of the revenue from this phase.
It’s this question of what happens with the revenue after the game is a commercial product that makes me view DF as a charity case. The public provides the break-even R&D funds. The revenue that would have gone to a publisher under the traditional model now goes straight to the developer. Presumably this revenue is almost entirely profit, leaving aside the weird boondoggle that is Broken Age’s development. Let’s hope they pay the worker bees royalties, maybe 9% of the profit, like in a traditional publisher model.
The remaining 91% should go to paying for the next project’s R&D. If it were a profitable game, that should be a sizable sum. When DF goes back to the crowdfunding well with each project, I’m left to assume that it’s 91% of a very small pile of cash. These games are selling to no one outside the Kickstarter crowd.
To the fans, that should be fine if what you’re paying for is a copy of the game. But I don’t think these games would make their funding if everyone were going in at that level. I believe the average contributor is in for more than double the copy-of-the-game funding level.
Doublefine is essentially operating on the patronage model. Rich people pay artists to make art for the enrichment of the entire world. I appreciate them doing so, but I don’t think it’s for me.
To be fair, that’s the model with Kickstarter. With Fig, you have the opportunity to be a partner in the process, in that you can be an investor in the title for $500 (or more) and if the product is successful, see some of the rewards of that investment - which is kind of cool. I’m just not 100% sold on DF’s (or most any game dev’s) prospects to deliver a game without delays and overruns to the extent that I think it’s a wise investment.
I do like that I have the option though and I’d like to see more crowdfunding efforts take advantage of it. In this case, if/when there is a Psychonauts 3, there will be enough of a track record to make an honest evaluation.
I think you’re probably right that a lot of people pledge more than the base price of the game. For example, I think a lot of people pay $50 for a copy of a game and a t-shirt. I never do that, I always just pledge the minimum price to get the game (and I do that very rarely). It seems a bit crazy to me to pay (effectively) $30 for a t-shirt, but as I always remind myself, I am mystified by most things that people do (most of which would put this post into P&R, but for example, watching professional sports), so maybe I shouldn’t read too much into it.
It’s kind of like those who buy collector’s editions, but the backer populace is far more likely to have that kind of interest level.
To add to a question on profitability above, the total number of original backers and Slacker Backers is about 100K people, while Steamspy reports that the low bound for Broken Age ownership is ~300K.
Now, sure, many more came in via “Early Access” when they released the buggy first half of their game a year and a half late, so you might count those people as backers, too, from the “directly funded the game which couldn’t be made on its original massively inflated budget with constant cash infusions from DF’s business people” perspective. Unfortunately, if there’s historical ownership charts on Steamspy, my cursory poking around didn’t reveal them. Pity, since I have to think that a lot more BA owners came out of Steam Sales and Bundles of various sorts, and a dedicated enough person could probably piece together a reasonable picture of how many at-or-near-full-price buyers the game had.
But if the game hadn’t been a gigantic money-grave for the entirety of its distended development, it did manage to sell itself to 2x as many people as it had backers at the end of the day, which could (and probably should) be pure profit in the best case scenario.
I had similar thoughts on Kickstarter & Indiegogo. Especially when I saw one game Kickstarter list that the developer expected to pay himself X amount of the raised money (where X was slightly more than my construction job paid at the time). I was all “fuck that nonsense! If you’re trying to realise a hobby project don’t expect to earn a decent pay while you do it. Live off of oatmeal like the rest of us do when we do risky nonsense!”
Then I realised that 1: I was being a dick, 2: most game Kickstarters weren’t solo projects but companies with employees who definitely should expect a reasonable pay, 3: I could just keep my money for myself, and 4: Obsidian did a campaign for an Infinity Engine clone that I couldn’t stop myself backing.
I also realised a couple of other things.
One of them is that crowd investing into a project is an accounting and accountability nightmare that you kind of by necessity have to exclude a large demographic from participating in.
The other is that this excluded demographic may very well be entirely capable of and willing to function as patrons of the… Well, it’s usually not art, so let’s use “Florgble” as a catch-all term for all the crap people Kickstart.
It no longer leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But… I did just brush my teeth.
Actually I wanted to comment on Psychonauts, I just got sidetracked.
IMO Psychonauts is both massively overrated and massively underrated. All the “dressing” was brilliant. Something nobody should miss because it’s hysterical and I’m not aware of anything like it in video gaming. In some ways I think it’s right up there with Time Bandits.
But I hated the actual game bits almost from start to finish. It’s not a mediocre platformer. Not even. It’s a solid 5 on the 7-9 scale, at best.
So I kind of want to back this project because, well, I can afford to and would love to be that entertained in that special way once again. But at the same time I’m not sure I have the willpower to struggle through an equally poor platformer again.
♪ I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel… I’m cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor… So very Torn ♫
That’s a good point that I hadn’t considered. Everything I like about Psychonauts is the world. Although I think the fight on the cube in Simon’s training world and the race in Milla’s training were not awful. I’m willing to pay to see the story again, but in retrospect what I want is a lot closer to the Stanley Parable than Mario.
I’d love for the creative Psychonauts guys to make the game with the help of the Rayman designer guys. I’m not adverse to platformers or anything, and I think it’s probably a good genre to use as a vehicle for a strangely adult children’s story (plus I didn’t like Stanley Parable because every time I thought I’d outsmarted the game it turned out I hadn’t QQ).
And sure, not all of Psychonauts was downright terrible. The meat circus stuff others have mentioned was really very-very bad. But mostly it was on the bottom rung of mediocre. And I think maybe sometimes the dressing got in the way of the gameplay. For example the gigantor level or whatever it’s called (you know, where you run around the lung fish city as a mega-monster) was not outright infuriating. But there wasn’t anything interesting about it in terms of gameplay, and for a segment with nothing interesting going for it, it went on for a very long time. The set-up was admittedly hysterical, but that’s the only good thing I have to say about it.
I’m worried Psychonauts 2 will be similarly… Mediocre-to-bad.
Dude, I don’t know what you’re looking for from the sequel, but I’m guessing you’re not going to find it. This may not be the kickstarter for you.
Psychonauts was the first platformer ever created by a brand new company that went through tons of turmoil and designed a brand new engine from scratch. More than a decade later, it’s many of the same people working on Psychonauts 2 with a decade of experience in gameplay and engine design. And they’re using Unreal Engine 4 to boot.
The circumstances couldn’t be more different.
You’re right, in fact circumstances are so completely different they’re asking for money up front this time! Which makes it pretty reasonable to say “you know what? I liked Psychonauts, but I have some reservations about a sequel. I’ll wait and see.”
Dude, if it is in fact a platformer I’m looking at here, what I’m looking for is one with good gameplay. Like Crash Bandicoot or Rayman or Jak & Daxter… Something of that quality. Maybe you’re right, maybe I should just steer clear.
Mr Eliminator makes a really good point, though: this is a team that ought to be able to deliver quality gameplay as well as the unique dressing Psychonauts 1 had. So maybe you’re wrong and I should help Kickstart this - chances are more funding = better game.
… Like I said, I’m torn.
Speaking of which, Doublefine just out a Devs Play with Crash Bandicoot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3zOzmI4oj8
They’ve also done Ratchet and Clank and Spyro. So they’re looking at good stuff.
That’s pretty much my point, right there. Even if Mr. Laminator is right, you’re still totally taking a gamble on the sequel being something you enjoy, especially if you found the first one such a chore. I totally enjoyed the platforming of the first game, in addition to all the other elements. This kickstarter is a no-brainer for me. If I, like yourself, found an element so completely onerous that I felt this kind of dissonance, I’d just wait for the damn thing to be released and see what other folks have to say. Why gamble?