Yeah, let’s gloss over the fact that I’ve pretty much failed in my resolution to keep up with this blog better. I’m here now, that’s all that matters. Interesting story cropped up today in the form of Double Fine Productions, a popular studio behind games like Psychonauts, Costume Quest and other downloadable arcade titles. Have to say they don’t do much for me personally, but the studio’s founder – Tim Schafer – is a well-known figure within the industry who worked at Lucas Art’s game company on games like The Adventures of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango, before founding his new company at the turn of the millennium.
Anyway – Double Fine have been in the news today because they are one of the first fairly major studios who have fully crowd funded a project, in this case a new ‘modern’ point & click adventure game they want to make but can’t get any funding for from any of the big publishers. Kickstarter is a well-known website for trying to get public funding, and whilst a couple of companies have tried in the past, none it seems have really succeeded until now. The most remarkable thing is, as you can probably see by going to the link, the company had already raised their target of $400,000 after eight hours… with 33 DAYS still left on the clock. At the time of writing, they’ve raised nearly $960,000.
Congratulations are in order, I suppose. Point & Clicks again aren’t my cup of tea so I can’t say I’m that excited for the game itself, but it is a fascinating occurrence none-the-less, will be interesting to see how much they get in the end, as well as what the game will actually be like. Several things to consider though – due to the nature of how the donation system works on Kickstarter, many of the people who would have bought this game, already have due to the fact that they donated (donators get it for free, and there are more perks available the more you donate). At worst (assuming they don’t overspend), it could mean the Double Fine break even, but whether that’s even a good thing or not is anyone’s guess… we’ll just have to see.
I imagine publishers wouldn’t fund the project because they didn’t think any money could be made, and if Double Fine break even, or don’t sell enough to turn any significant profit, then in a way those same publishers will have been proven right – regardless of whether the money came from the internet or the publishers themselves, breaking even is breaking even. At best, Double Fine might get a pat on the back for managing without any help, but we’ll essentially be back at square one as far as developer/publisher relations go. Indeed, this could all just make things worse – with a proven test case about how a studio can fund itself, publishers might turn around and say “well if you don’t like it, go find your own money”.
Still, it’s a fascinating example, of what studios can do by themselves, of the power of ‘the crowd’. Much like ‘The Cloud’, ‘Crowdwhatever-ing’ is becoming the new it-term in the world of internet and computing. As someone who likes to watch the world evolve around him, I’m interested in seeing where this is going, although unlike some of my peers, I don’t really see this as the second coming of Christ or something. Even though they seem a little bit too excited about Double Fine’s situation, Johnny Cullen (VG247) and John Walker‘s (Rock,Paper,Shotgun) opinion on this matter is worth a read.
Oh, and Double Fine seem to have broken some kind of record now.