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The Kickstarter Thread

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Yep, that scenario is the most likely - it sells a few hundred thousand, meaning around 10% of the sales were already made & revenues spent for Kickstarter. Without a publisher it is still a healthy profit for the developer, but nothing to convince the publisher that if they jumped in it would be worthwhile.

 

And to be honest, that's all for the best. I'd actually hate, personally, for games like W2 to sell 3 million copies or something and then publishers start making dozens of them, making future kickstarters nonviable. "We want to create the new Torment!" "Why would we back that, when we've got a publisher making one, and it's kind of the same except easier and with lots of romances?" If Kickstarter games are TOO successful then the really niche games and gamers that made it possible in the first place will find that, once again, they are left behind as the niche. 

 

The real question is whether 'a few hundred thousand' sales will be enough for companies like inXile to then break out of kickstarter also - e.g. their first 2-3 games are KS, then after that the revenue keeps them going for future games. That is surely what Fargo is looking forward to, KS as literally 'kickstarting' independent, sustainable mid-sized studios. If that works it will be a wonderful model.

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Yep, that scenario is the most likely - it sells a few hundred thousand, meaning around 10% of the sales were already made & revenues spent for Kickstarter. Without a publisher it is still a healthy profit for the developer, but nothing to convince the publisher that if they jumped in it would be worthwhile.

 

It's somewhat relative, though. All these games are made with shoelace budget in comparison to most of the the "publisher titles". One could - optimistically, and in case it turns out to be popular and profitable relative to its budget - think "What if Wasteland 2 had ten or even fifteen fold the budget it had and how would that have affected it?"

 

I agree with you, though, it is probably for the better to keep the niche a niche for the reasons you gave.

Edited by Undecaf

Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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And to be honest, that's all for the best. I'd actually hate, personally, for games like W2 to sell 3 million copies or something and then publishers start making dozens of them, making future kickstarters nonviable. "We want to create the new Torment!" "Why would we back that, when we've got a publisher making one, and it's kind of the same except
easier and with lots of romances?" If Kickstarter games are TOO successful then the really niche games and gamers that made it possible in the first place will find that, once again, they are left behind as the niche.

 

Depends.

 

If big publishers were to go to Obsidian and let them do more of what Obsidian did to make PE so successful (assuming it was), it could still be good for us.  I do get the impression that the RPG crowd would certainly be less vindictive towards many PST sequels as opposed to COD sequels.

 

More likely, however, I would expect that huge success from the kickstarters would start seeing a shift of the features RPG fans consider important being brought into the forefront more definitively.  This would mean more games from big publishers and the like, but I vote we wait until any hypothetical "RPG market saturation" actually occurs before we complain about having the genre be watered down!  Haha

 

 

 

The real question is whether 'a few hundred thousand' sales will be enough for companies like inXile to then break out of kickstarter also - e.g. their first 2-3 games are KS, then after that the revenue keeps them going for future games. That is surely what Fargo is looking forward to, KS as literally 'kickstarting' independent, sustainable mid-sized studios. If that works it will be a wonderful model.

 

Not sure.  I appreciate Feargus' desires to not want to have to rely on Kickstarter for future projects, but by the same token if I were in Fargo's shoes, there's a heavy degree of risk mitigation by continuing to get some level of funding (even if it's not all of it) through kickstarter even if it wasn't "necessary."  It may make sense for a company to still bring in that $1-$4 million via kickstarter even if it's not explicitly required.  Although it's certainly more of a "selfish" move, but I don't have any issue with a company wanting to take care of its employees and mitigate risk.

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i dont see why a small-mid sized rpg company wouldnt always use kickstarter now, even if just to secure a certain number of "preorders" for the game and to gauge the core audiences enthusiasm for your project



Killing is kind of like playin' a basketball game. I am there. and the other player is there. and it's just the two of us. and I put the other player's body in my van. and I am the winner. - Nice Pete.

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i dont see why a small-mid sized rpg company wouldnt always use kickstarter now, even if just to secure a certain number of "preorders" for the game and to gauge the core audiences enthusiasm for your project

 

Because those preorders may secure a team to do the work, but they probably don't pay enough for the office space, supplies, and keeping the lights on.  Publisher bucks are still a pretty big deal.

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If I could, I would photoshop Fargo's face on Sim City angry advisor guy.

 

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The ending of the words is ALMSIVI.

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A mid sized studio could probably function quite nicely on $3m a year, but it's questionable whether even Brian Fargo will get $3m on a third project. While number of backers and funding is going up overall on KickStarter, competition for those funds is also going up, and while Fargo has an advantage there's only so many old franchises to be resurrected. A couple of hundred thousand sales with 30% going to the online retailer, credit processing, bandwidth, is going to be a lot better than what developers usual get for sales which is nothing. That's $2-4m at $20 at a low estimate? They're going to have money fights and start "making it rain".

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Even if the games sell a couple hundred thousand (which I would consider a pretty great success), I'd still consider the target audience to be quite niche.

Really? A couple of hundred thousand at $30 per copy is $6M which makes roughly $10M when combined with the Kickstarter. I would not consider that niche. Of course, is certainly not of the same scale as the mass market AAA games which cost of order $100M to make and market and sell of order $1B (when successful), but it is hardly niche -- it's somewhere in the mid-range.

i dont see why a small-mid sized rpg company wouldnt always use kickstarter now, even if just to secure a certain number of "preorders" for the game and to gauge the core audiences enthusiasm for your project

Because a $1M+ Kickstarter only works if people already trust you. Think of the people who have gotten big money out of it: Tim Schaefer, Brian Fargo, Chris Avellone + Josh Sawyer + Feargus Urquhart, etc. Every one of them has been in gaming for a long time and has participated in the creation of masterpieces. Other people have tried it (e.g. the rather poorly named Old-School RPG which was renamed to Shaker much too late), but it hasn't worked for them.

 

Now, why Obsidian and inXile wouldn't always just use Kickstarters for medium scale projects is not so clear. It seems like a no-lose proposition for them as long as they can consistently deliver what they promise.

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Really? A couple of hundred thousand at $30 per copy is $6M which makes roughly $10M when combined with the Kickstarter. I would not consider that niche. Of course, is certainly not of the same scale as the mass market AAA games which cost of order $100M to make and market and sell of order $1B (when successful), but it is hardly niche -- it's somewhere in the mid-range.

 

Yes.  But I don't consider niche to be a pejorative.  When you compare that a game like Baldur's Gate sold well over a million copies (as did the second one), back in the late 90s, and these games are attempting to mimic a game Baldur's Gate 1/2, if the game sales cap out at a couple hundred thousand (at a much lower price point, both on the box and adjusted for inflation), it will probably be very lucrative for Obsidian/inXile, but doesn't change that the game appeals to a fairly specific subset of gamers.

 

 

Also, you cannot say that "it makes $10 million when combined with kickstarter" since the bulk (and presumably the entirety, based on stretch goals) of the kickstarter money is used to actually develop the game (and satisfy backer rewards).  If we're going to get on the case of publishers exploiting developers motivating kickstarter games, it should be noted that we certainly aren't saying that the developers made tens of millions of dollars from the publisher in the form of the publisher financing the game's actual development.

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I have put 499 bucks for KS and am recieving 4 games, all made with shoelace budgets (relative to the current mass market products). I think that's enough for an average working class guy. So I won't be backing anymore games until at least 1 ships. Unless of course it's Gary Grisby kickstarting a new Steel Panthers game...

Edited by Undecaf

Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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I have put 499 bucks for KS and am recieving 4 games, all made with shoelace budgets (relative to the current mass market products). I think that's enough for an average working class guy. So I won't be backing anymore games until at least 1 ships. Unless of course it's Gary Grisby kickstarting a new Steel Panthers game...

 

I sometimes wondered whether my dad was the only person on the planet who played Steel Panther games. He'll be glad to know he's not the only one out there.

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But to be fair, this conversation isn't getting us anywhere - you're skeptical and I'm optimistic; I'm afraid that's all we'll ever get out of this. 

 

We'll know more as the big projects are released; sale numbers will allow us to make more accurate assessments.

 

Just to be clear, I don't consider niche to be a pejorative.

 

I actually consider myself very optimistic about stuff like Kickstarter, specifically because it, in conjunction with things like digital distribution, can help various gaming niches get games that they otherwise wouldn't get.

 

I agree that big publishers likely see the market as too insignificant, but because of kickstarters that market insignificance is less relevant.  If Kickstarter can help make a game that only satisfies its contributors, but the developers and supports are both happy with the arrangement, then it's viable and will allow more variety in games to hit the market.  It may help niche games become less niche (simply due to increased exposure to those types of games), what's awesome about Kickstarter is that it is less important that a game type is niche.  It's becoming less of a barrier to entry for a developer to create something.  That is awesome.

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I have put 499 bucks for KS and am recieving 4 games, all made with shoelace budgets (relative to the current mass market products). I think that's enough for an average working class guy. So I won't be backing anymore games until at least 1 ships. Unless of course it's Gary Grisby kickstarting a new Steel Panthers game...

 

I sometimes wondered whether my dad was the only person on the planet who played Steel Panther games. He'll be glad to know he's not the only one out there.

 

Are you kidding me, it is still the one and only TBS, the king of the hill, I know of a bag full of people who played and loved it. Your dad? How are you? Did you like it, if you played it? In this age of TB making a return, are there really no more people that recognize it? :lol:


Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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But to be fair, this conversation isn't getting us anywhere - you're skeptical and I'm optimistic; I'm afraid that's all we'll ever get out of this. 

 

We'll know more as the big projects are released; sale numbers will allow us to make more accurate assessments.

 

Just to be clear, I don't consider niche to be a pejorative.

 

I actually consider myself very optimistic about stuff like Kickstarter, specifically because it, in conjunction with things like digital distribution, can help various gaming niches get games that they otherwise wouldn't get.

 

I agree that big publishers likely see the market as too insignificant, but because of kickstarters that market insignificance is less relevant.  If Kickstarter can help make a game that only satisfies its contributors, but the developers and supports are both happy with the arrangement, then it's viable and will allow more variety in games to hit the market.  It may help niche games become less niche (simply due to increased exposure to those types of games), what's awesome about Kickstarter is that it is less important that a game type is niche.  It's becoming less of a barrier to entry for a developer to create something.  That is awesome.

 

Fair enough, that's something I can definitely agree with.

 

I'd only like to add that what I value the most about the Kickstarter model is the focus on the product, not the the profit. 

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To those interested, you can donwload the Steel Panthers World at War from here (the first post).

 

I'll say, I have never had more fun with a WW2 startegy game. :)

 

E - gave the link....

Edited by Undecaf

Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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I have put 499 bucks for KS and am recieving 4 games, all made with shoelace budgets (relative to the current mass market products). I think that's enough for an average working class guy. So I won't be backing anymore games until at least 1 ships. Unless of course it's Gary Grisby kickstarting a new Steel Panthers game...

 

I sometimes wondered whether my dad was the only person on the planet who played Steel Panther games. He'll be glad to know he's not the only one out there.

 

Are you kidding me, it is still the one and only TBS, the king of the hill, I know of a bag full of people who played and loved it. Your dad? How are you? Did you like it, if you played it? In this age of TB making a return, are there really no more people that recognize it? :lol:

 

I'm 27. I did try one of the older Steel Panther titles back around the time Mech Warrior 2 was released but I could never get into it. I think it's down to a lack of patience, I do enjoy TB games but I prefer smaller scale and faster paced ones like Blood Bowl, Frozen Synapse, Jagged Alliance ect.  My father on the other hand is really into TB games that mimic tabletop wargames so things like Steel Panther are ideal for him although he loves the Civilization series almost as much. 

 

Not sure if you'd be interested but my favourite WW2 stratergy game was Blitzkrieg 2, it had a lot in common with dawn of war 2 actually and in some ways did things much better, the multiplayer skirmishes especially were a highlight of my gaming experience  and provided so many options and stratergies for teamwork.

 

Edited by Serrano

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They're horrendously expensive though. More or less BG: EE but at double the price. Shame, A Bridge Too Far was a great game and  it would be nice if more people played it and The Russian Front, flawed as it was, deserved a replay as well.

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Yeah I have noticed that.  It's why I haven't picked them up.

 

A Bridge Too Far was my favourite as well, with a fantastic dynamic campaign that was a ton of fun in a one vs one match.

 

Russian Front tidied some things up mechanically, but it's campaign wasn't interesting (if you broke it down into operations it worked much better).

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Yes I know.

 

But people still frequently use the numbers of kickstarter crowd as evidence that it's not niche (because apparently being niche is bad?).  At best you can't conclude anything.

 

It's also important to note that based on the kickstarter numbers alone, that's an immediate 70 thousand sales that won't show up post release, without even counting that some of the higher tiers end up receiving multiple copies of games.  Which is fine, but it's easy to let one's enthusiasm for a project conclude that the project itself will be exceptionally successful as well.

 

Even if the games sell a couple hundred thousand (which I would consider a pretty great success), I'd still consider the target audience to be quite niche.

 

These are definitely niche, compared to COD/TES. That's not the question.

 

The question is why have some publisher given up on anything that doesn't make $500mil in profits. Are PE/WL2 currently going to get the sales of CoD etc? No. But can they bring some profit? Yes.

 

Not every game needs a $100mil budget to make profit. This is where I think EA and Acti are losing the plot. Making smaller budget games that bring profit revenue beside the blockbusters seems to make better business sense, then putting all your eggs in one AAA basket. Especially when in the long run franchises are going to wane. Not to mention that one of those smaller budget games might explode to higher numbers.

Edited by Bos_hybrid

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The question is why have some publisher given up on anything that doesn't make $500mil in profits. Are PE/WL2 currently going to get the sales of CoD etc? No. But can they bring some profit? Yes.

 

It's mostly just opportunity cost.

 

When dealing with a lot of fixed costs and other stuff like that, and in terms of dealing with investor perspective and other things, it makes more sense to spend $40 million on a game that brings in $70 million in sales, than to spend $4 million on a game that will bring in $8 million in sales, even though the return on investment is higher with the cheaper game.  (numbers purely hypothetical to illustrate the point)

 

It's, unfortunately, not as easy as ramping up ten projects at $4 million a pop and your potential risk goes up quite a bit.  Risk is something that makes investors uneasy, and can also compromise the employment of people.  Feargus himself has admitted that he has gone for "slam dunk" projects with Black Isle because part of his responsibility was to keep the people he employed... in some cases friends... further employed.

 

 

Which is why Kickstarter and digital distribution is exciting, because we're starting to see avenues that open up opportunities for game developers to make games on a smaller scale as funding can be achieved in other ways.

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To those interested, you can donwload the Steel Panthers World at War from here (the first post).

 

I'll say, I have never had more fun with a WW2 startegy game. :)

 

E - gave the link....

 

For those who like grand strategy, I can also recommend "War in Russia" (also available from Matrix Games download page for free somewhere). It's been a favourite Gary Grigsby game of mine since dawn of time, running on my dos emulator on the Amiga. It was called "Second Front" then, but is essentially the same game.

 

Now off to study that other thread with already funded games, still available for pre-order. I might just catch up on Shadowrun yet.


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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The real question is whether 'a few hundred thousand' sales will be enough for companies like inXile to then break out of kickstarter also - e.g. their first 2-3 games are KS, then after that the revenue keeps them going for future games. That is surely what Fargo is looking forward to, KS as literally 'kickstarting' independent, sustainable mid-sized studios. If that works it will be a wonderful model.

 

 

I really don't have a problem with this. So what if a developer relies on crowd-funding to secure the budget of each of their games? So long as they let enough time pass and their customers' wallets to "regenerate" (which, I think, the average development time of a video game is quite enough for), I don't see the problem. Just because this particular crowd-funding website is called "Kickstarter" doesn't mean crowd-funding can't be used for more than just kick-starting.

 

Because, when you really stop and think about it, what would be the actual benefit of them making enough money off of sales of their games alone for the budget of their next game instead of turning to crowd-funding for providing the said budget? Personally, I actually see none.

 

For example, this way, by using crowd-funding to fund each of their games, they're able to accomplish direct customer participation in game development of much higher quality, because knowing who their backers are enables them to easily distinguish useful customer input from "noise", i.e. an opinion of a customer who cares enough about the game that they were willing to fund its development from their own pocket clearly has more weight than some random on-line nobody's opinion. Admittedly, a crude distinguishing method; but it works, as opposed to everyone who provides the outside input being some random on-line nobody.

 

Likewise, this way it's also easier for them to make games which their customers actually like and enjoy playing (which is what all of them say they really want to do), because the backers' response to every of their project pitches serves them as a clear indicator of whether they're heading in the right direction with their games, whether they're doing things right or if they're screwing up. If they get no such perfectly direct user input before making the game it would be much easier for them to screw up, make a crappy game, not get enough money off of its sales to make a new game, thus having to turn to crowd-funding once again, but this time right after making a screw-up of a game - then, obviously, much more difficult to get the funds they need via crowd-funding.

Edited by Veeno

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Hey, I just backed you,

and this is crazy,

but here's my money,

so stretch goal maybe?

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For example, this way, by using crowd-funding to fund each of their games, they're able to accomplish direct customer participation in game development of much higher quality, because knowing who their backers are enables them to easily distinguish useful customer input from "noise", i.e. an opinion of a customer who cares enough about the game that they were willing to fund its development from their own pocket clearly has more weight than some random on-line nobody's opinion. Admittedly, a crude distinguishing method; but it works, as opposed to everyone who provides the outside input being some random on-line nobody.

 

Likewise, this way it's also easier for them to make games which their customers actually like and enjoy playing (which is what all of them say they really want to do), because the backers' response to every of their project pitches serves them as a clear indicator of whether they're heading in the right direction with their games, whether they're doing things right or if they're screwing up. If they get no such perfectly direct user input before making the game it would be much easier for them to screw up, make a crappy game, not get enough money off of its sales to make a new game, thus having to turn to crowd-funding once again, but this time right after making a screw-up of a game - then, obviously, much more difficult to get the funds they need via crowd-funding.

 

My only concern about the kickstarter process appears to be something you consider to be a positive.  I backed PE because I trust the people at Obsidian, not because I trust the backers.  The games I have played and enjoyed from many of the developers at OE were made without significant customer/fan input.  My concern is that the backers simply replace the publishers as the unnecessary input that directs the development of the game.  I want no input into game development and have offered none.  We have seen where game development has gone under the direction of large publishers and to be honest, I believe that any developer giving backers too much say in the development of the games will be even more detrimental.  At least with a publisher there is one voice and one direction.  With thousands of backers all trying to influence the game to be what they personally want, catering to all or even some of those wishes has the potential to create an incredibly bad game.

 

I trust the developers to develop the game.  I don't trust any of the backers.  I want an OE game untarnished by giving creative control, no matter how small, to anyone else.  I believe that will be a deciding factor in the future success of kickstarter - how successfully the developers can resist pandering to the backers.

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My concern is that the backers simply replace the publishers as the unnecessary input that directs the development of the game.

 

You're forgetting a very important detail there, though.

 

It's ok to trust the developer (Obsidian, in this case) enough to think that they're perfectly capable of making a great game on their own with no outside input whatsoever (and I agree with you on that one), but you can't say that the backer input is equally detrimental to the development process as the publisher "input". What I'm talking about should be obvious from the fact that I put the word "input" in quotes after "publisher" there.

 

Backers really are only providing input. Dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of backers, however many of them decide to join the developer's forums, are only sharing their own inputs when the developers prompt them for it - they're sharing their opinions, discussing them, forming ideas etc., and from this "soup" of opinions and ideas the developers can take away whatever they want. Maybe they'll decide someone's ideas are garbage, maybe they'll decide someone's ideas are brilliant and will use them in the development of the game, maybe they'll find something that they never thought of themselves, or find a way to see something from a perspective they never even considered. This is valuable, useful and non-detrimental kind of input. If you've (slacker-)backed Double Fine Adventure and have access to the backer forums, you can easily go there and see a multitude of examples of what I'm talking about right now.

 

Publishers, on the other hand, don't really "provide input" per se. They control and demand. The worse thing that can happen to a developer if they don't listen to a certain (egotistical) backer's suggestion or opinion is that he or she potentially won't back their next project. That is highly "potential", though, because even that is not certain, for the backer may change his/her opinion once they get to play the game and see that it's a great game after all, even without their "genius" idea in it. If a developer doesn't listen to a publisher's demands, however, they will cut their funding and won't let them finish the game. Once again, Tim Schafer explains what making a game with a publisher behind your neck is like much better than I ever could,

.

 

In short:

Backer input is just outsourcing (or, well, crowdsourcing) opinions and ideas. Publisher "input" is having your hands tied.

Edited by Veeno
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runner.jpg

Hey, I just backed you,

and this is crazy,

but here's my money,

so stretch goal maybe?

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