Team17: 'Crowdfunding still the best route for developers'

UK firm signs Ivent to its growing indie publishing business
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Worms creator turned publisher Team17 still has faith in the crowdfunding model for new video games, despite the recent high-profile setbacks.

The perception of crowdfunded games development has shifted in recent months following the development troubles and unfulfilled promises of Peter Molyneux's Godus, as well as the cancellation of Yogscast Adventures.

But Team17 maintains Kickstarter campaigns and similar appeals are still a valid way to fund new games developers, having just signed a new title to its indie publishing label.

The UK firm will publish Strength of the Sword: Ultimate on PC and other platforms. The game was developed by Bulgarian indie studio Ivent Games, which is currently raising support for the game via Kickstarter.

"We believe crowdfunding is still the best way for developers to get their creative vision in front of an audience and acquire the means to make it happen," MD Debbie Bestwick told Develop. "Especially the kind of games that mainstream publishers wouldn’t look at twice because they think they’re 'niche', 'creatively risky', 'have limited commercial appeal' or 'aren’t easily franchisable'. 

"We also think that the indie space is where the real innovation in terms of gameplay, story-telling, and emotional engagement is happening – and those are the types of games we want to be associated with. The less tangible, but just as important, benefits are that by running a successful crowdfunding campaign the developer can build a highly-engaged community around their game from its inception and ensure complete creative independence of their project."

Strength of the Sword: Ultimate is a 3D fighter/brawler title that has an old-school focus on tactics and skill-based combat. Ivent was approached by Team17, who continues to seek out new and interesting developers that need a hand bringing their titles to market.

"We look for a great idea, passion, honesty and lots of hard work," said Bestwick. "Passion for their idea and the passion to make it happen; honesty in the project’s aims and how much funding the developer needs.

"Running a successful crowdfunding campaign is lots and lots of hard work – if you’re not prepared to eat, sleep and drink it and fully engage with your community then you are probably not going to succeed. I'll take those over experience or track record any day. 

"To take a recent example, we’ve just released The Escapists, one of our most successful game launches ever and a product of crowdfunding. The developer was a roofer who’d never made a commercial game before when he started his Kickstarter, but with right mix of those four things he’s created a phenomenon – and it’s just the beginning for him. 

"However, those with egos, an expectation that a crowdfunding campaign will fund a lifestyle, or who aren’t prepared to work just as hard after the campaign as during it need not apply."

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