The problem is that they need to start a project like this quick, before everyone else and their dog does the same thing, and I'm not sure Obsidian has the same hype surrounding them as Tim Schafer does.
It might seem that way but the degree to which Kickstarter funding is a zero sum game is probably more marginal than we realize. Geeks have deep pockets. Indeed, geek culture as it's currently understood is based almost entirely on consumption. All sorts of things get funded through Kickstarter and the most successful tend to be either nostalgia- or meme-based (see: Pomplamoose, any number of chiptune albums, a thousand "documentaries" about Nintendo games and short films about zombies, etc), and the amount of money that people can raise on the site is really surprising and frequently baffling given how vague their plans often are. There was a musician, for instance (Deakin of Animal Collective) who raised $25,000 for a benefit show / album to take place in Africa, only to basically just make it a vacation. The sky is the limit.
Schafer's Kickstarter project got a lot of help from the fact that almost every big gaming news site reported on Notch saying he wants to finance Psychonauts 2 a few days before this.
That's true, but
Also, Tim Schafer is somewhat of a household name, more than almost any other game developer right now. Obsidian has Avellone, but I am not sure they can compare on the hype-o-meter.
This is not really true, not the part about Tim Schafer being a household name. There are a number of factors at play here, the greatest of which is probably the rise of social media that is heavily populated by upper-middle class geeks who have a lot of walking around money and deep investment in the memories of media they consumed as children. I would bet you hard cash that what kicked off Schafer's meteoric Kickstarter success was a front-page feature on Reddit. Raising that kind of money with that celerity, it's a near-certainty.
And it's not like the cult of Schafer is all that huge. Not a lot of people played Psychonauts
, at least, not a lot of people paid for it. Schafer's epoch was the Lucasarts era (in fact a lot of folks probably associate adventure games he wasn't involved in with his name, similar to the ways in which the Obsidz guys still get credit for Baldur's Gate
every once in awhile). The thing with Reddit is that what they commit to in their ending-of-It's a Wonderful Life
way is often arbitrarily decided and based on knee-jerk sentiment (which can be both good and very, very bad), of which nostalgia is the most obvious. It doesn't take much beyond "visionary 90's game maker starts Kickstarter campaign" to whip folks into a frenzy. And if that doesn't work, the watchword for Kickstarter is novelty. Novelty novelty novelty. slap the word "steampunk" on it and watch your pledges bump.
Another thing is that I think the general public are happy to donate to one of these projects. But if ten more pop up? I don't think the general public will spend 10x more money. Instead it will dilute the resources and make it more difficult to get proper funding. So.. do it quick if you're going to do it!
Again, not necessarily the case. The market might be diluted to a certain extent but if Obsidian were to differentiate itself well enough it would have no problem raising money from its cult. From outside that demographic, who knows (add some novelty! Iso-90's design is a start). But Kickstarter is purely speculative (a big part of what makes it such a blessing for artists and a font of gauche spectacles like some youtube video schmuck raising $150,000), so if they set a goal and don't get enough pledges, they haven't wasted anything but the time they put into making and submitting the proposal. And I suppose whatever effort on other projects they could have used with that time. But in all likelihood if Avellone does put up a kickstarter it will be on his own time, because it's not really a huge undertaking.
Edited by Pop, 10 February 2012 - 08:09 PM.