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Kickstarting video game reboots

James Batchelor
Kickstarting video game reboots

If a brand has been out of the limelight for many years, it can be difficult getting publishers to support a new release – but crowdfunding offers an alternative solution.

Sites likes Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Gambitious have been flooded with campaigns for video games this year. And many of those have been centred around gaming hits of yesteryear. Broken Sword, Wasteland, Carmageddon, and a new Pro Pinball – these games are coming back, and developers maintain that only crowdfunding have made these possible.

“Kickstarter offers a great funding source for many a quality developer who may otherwise struggle to raise the funds,” said Adrian Barritt, CEO of Pro Pinball developer Silverball Studios. “Many exciting projects will see the light of day that never would have before.”

The surge of interest in crowdfunding started with the famous Kickstarter appeal by Tim Schafer’s studio Double Fine, which raised $3.45m million. Charles Cecil, creator of Broken Sword, championed Schafer for pioneering the trend, but warns this project could also dictate the future of crowdfunded games.

“I particularly admire Tim Schafer for having the balls to say that the resulting game may be great, or a spectacular failure,” he said. “I very much hope it turns out to be the former – the credibility of crowdfunding will be severely dented if any of these hugely popular projects fail to materialise.”

Barritt shares this concern: “It is inevitable that a game with major funding raised on a crowdsourcing platform will fail to deliver; software development is an uncertain business and someone is bound to over promise.”

Neil Barnden, co-founder of Carmageddon developer Stainless Games, agrees but adds that Schafer’s success encouraged his studio to  start a Carmageddon appeal.

“We’d previously discussed crowdfunding as a potential way of funding the game very early on – but discounted it as too risky,” he explained. “Double Fine changed that. “And because some older games are still remembered (and often still played) by original fans, a campaign is helped by that community.”

With titles like Broken Sword and Carmageddon successfully backed by Kickstarter appeals, Barnden says it is “almost inevitable that other developers will follow suit and use crowdfunding to reboot their own retro titles”.

“If developers deliver, then confidence in this model will grow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it perhaps surpass traditional funding models,” he says.

But Cecil warns that such a business model will not work on every forgotten brand.

“Crowdfunding does offer a reality check – there are a limited number of developers and brands that can attract the support required to successfully crowdfund, and most of them have launched appeals already,” he says.

“It will be fascinating to see whether the appetite of fans to take risks will continue, or whether funding will be increasingly attracted to developers who prove that they will actually deliver a high quality game at the end of it all.”

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Tags: video game , analysis , Kickstarter , reboots

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