Let’s see how the games we were watching from last week are doing, shall we?
The Banner Saga is done and they ended up with $723k, quite a bit over their initial goal of $100k. Valdis Story just ended at $49k (goal of $8k). Shadowrun Returns is at $1.666 million ($400k goal) with a little over a day to go. Jane Jensen’s Moebius is at $238k ($300k goal) with 3 weeks left. Leisure Suit Larry remake reached its goal ($533k/$500k) with 4 days left. Yogventures! is at $396k ($250k goal) with 8 days left. Grim Dawn is at $197k ($280k goal) with 3 weeks to go. Republique got a boost after announcing PC/Mac support and is at $123k ($500k goal) with 2 weeks left – I think it’s probably too late but it’s good to see they’re not going out without a fight.
Kitaru isn’t doing so hot but it has a while left to go so they’ll probably make their $25k goal. I think the big problem with this kickstarter is that the funding goal feels completely unrealistic – they’re showing off a big fancy 3D RPG but they’re asking for a pittance. I think a lot of people see the disconnect between the budget and the screenshots and that makes them cautious. Oh and it didn’t help that the please-support-our-kickstarter video they shared tried to be funny but failed.
Class of Heroes 2 failed with less than 20% of its total goal. Much as I’d like to see a respected old RPG localizer come back into the game, I don’t think this is the way to do it. Not only did the kickstarter fail, but I think they’re going to have a hard time breaking even on their costs when the digital version of the game comes out later this year. I mean, you’ve got a very niche subgenre of games (the dungeon crawler RPG) that is a sequel to a game that did poorly (both in sales and reviews) and that’s up against a lot of fierce competition (like the Etrian Odyssey series and Legend of Grimrock) – that’s just not a recipe for success. I’m thinking maybe 10k copies sold at $20 or under; less than 2k copies sold if the game goes for $30-$40. Double or triple those values if the game comes out on the PS3 as well. I hope GaijinWorks and Monkey Paw Games have a contingency plan for if Class of Heroes 2 bombs and they’re not staking the future of their companies on it.
In other news, I thought this quote from the creator of Ben There, Dan That was interesting:
“So yeah, because someone’ll shout KICKSTARTER: I’ve said why in more detail in the upcoming issue of Continue Magazine, but (spoilers): basically as a solo dev I don’t want to toy with other peoples’ cash. If I die, or catch some horrible disease, no one else is going to make the game. That money’ll go to waste, the project will die, and angry people will probably wind up hounding my loved ones demanding their fiver back.
I’m also slightly wary of some of the alpha-funding horror stories I’ve heard: seems like people get a sense of entitlement with that kind of funding that I’m keen to avoid – I spoke to one sobbing indie dev who said he was in ‘perpetual crunch’ because being seen to take a single weekend off got him hatemail from his backers.”
That brings up a lot of interesting ideas – even if you can do a kickstarter should you? Like with the kickstarter we did for Cthulhu Saves the World, we had less than 200 backers, most of which were friends, other developers, and hardcore fans – a very supportive group. And we only received a few thousand dollars – if something had gone wrong, we probably could have figured out a way to pay everyone back. However, when you’re talking about tens of thousands of backers and hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars, that’s a big difference. With a successful kickstarter of that magnitude, that’s a lot of money to be accountable for and a lot of people who feel like you owe them. Is it worth all that stress? I’m not sure.
On a similar note to this topic, the editors of Gamasutra recently posted an article entitled Should I Do a Kickstarter Campaign. Well worth a read if you’re considering one.
If you’re a fan of the Atari 2600, this kickstarter for Star Castle is worth checking out. The original creator thought it would be impossible to port Star Castle to the 2600 but this individual has done it and it asking for money to produce more copies of the game (right now he just has the prototype he made). It’s already surpassed its modest goal of $10k but if you want a fun little piece of gaming history or just like collecting classic games, it’s worth checking out.
Also, I wanted to throw a shout-out to one RPGMaker kickstarter – Unemployment Quest. Does it look like the most incredible RPG ever? No, not really. But I think it deserves kudos because it’s not another naive RPGMaker kickstarter that promises the stars with THE MOST AMAZING 40+ HOUR RPG OF ALL TIME despite the developer having no experience in making games. No, here we have a new developer who had an idea of how to twist the genre in an interesting way and wants to make a modest game out of it while asking for a little help so he can do a small print-run of it. Good for him.
Now I’d like to talk a little bit about stretch goals. For those unfamiliar with stretch goals, it’s basically when a kickstarter project says that they’ll add stuff to the project if they reach certain funding goals beyond their original. Personally, I think they’re a really bad idea. Yes, they’re a way to convince people to give you more money, but should you really be trying to get that much more money than your original goal? Shouldn’t your initial goal be enough to cover your expenses and allow you to create what you wanted to create in the first place? By adding stretch goals, you’re essentially saying “Feature creep, here we come!” and as anyone who has run into the problem of feature creep can tell you, it can ruin projects. Rather than do stretch goals, set reasonable goals in the first place and if you get more money than you expected, just consider it a cushion in case your expenses turn out to be more than you expected.
Now before I close this week’s article, I’d like to say something about solicitations. Namely, I don’t like them. I post news and talk about kickstarters that I think are interesting. That doesn’t mean that they’re the only kickstarters worth supporting, just that they’re the only ones I feel like writing about. If you come to me and ask “Why didn’t you write about Super Mega Happy Fun Slide – The FPS?” my answer will generally be the same – “I personally didn’t find it very interesting.” I’ve heard stories about how bigger publications are getting bombarded with requests to cover their kickstarter and I want none of that. Begging me to cover your project will get you nowhere – if you want me to cover your kickstarter, create a good kickstarter project and chances are I’ll notice it when I look for exciting new kickstarters to talk about.