Not a day goes by when fans of the game industry don’t lament the rising costs of game development and the subsequent effect it has on what kinds of games actually get made.

After all, if games like Call of Duty get the most profit for huge publishers, why would they bother funding a point-and-click adventure game in the vein of classic Lucasarts titles or an isometric turn-based role playing game?

While digital distribution avenues like Steam and GOG make publishing niche titles fairly easy, funding itself is still an issue. That’s where Kickstarter comes in.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website where people with ideas for products can find “backers” who pledge money to help fund the project.

The projects usually have incentives for donating various amounts, and no money is given to the creator unless the goal amount is reached.

What it also does is allow game creators to circumvent traditional funding methods entirely.

Tim Schafer and his studio, Double Fine, recently went on Kickstarter to fund a traditional adventure game – a genre that has been all but dead since the late 90s. Schafer asked for a pledge of $400,000 to fund the title.

Not only did they end up with more than that within the first 24 hours, they ended the fundraiser with $3,336,371 from 87,142 people.

This was no doubt an anomaly. Tim Schafer is well-known and highly regarded by many people in the game industry. The thought of him going “back to his roots” in the adventure genre seemed more than enough to get people excited and throwing money in his general direction.

Though similar projects from other veterans in the industry, like a Wasteland sequel by original developers Brian Fargo and company, found success within days on Kickstarter, there are pages and pages of unfunded (and rightly so, given the half-baked nature of the proposals) proving that Schafer’s success was definitely a “perfect storm” of circumstances.

Kickstarter is still fairly new, especially when it comes to crowdfunding game development, but I think it offers a glimpse at an interesting future, one that the industry is no doubt leaning towards.

While the market for big budget, full price Michael Bay-esque game experiences funded by huge publishers is still there, it’s an unsustainable model.

Indie darlings like Minecraft, Braid, Bastion and Super Meat Boy were a treat for hardcore and casual gamers alike while being developed by very small teams on even smaller budgets.

Some of the best games I’ve played in the last five years weren’t huge games like Skyrim or Call of Duty, but rather indie games made by people who were able to take risks and appeal to niche markets because they aren’t beholden to a team of businessmen trying to squeeze every last dollar out of a dying franchise.

Kickstarter is just the newest in a plethora of funding models the industry is trying out and it will hopefully be a successful one.

It allows developers to interact directly with the people they’re making the game for and not have to compromise their vision to reach the broadest possible audience.

It might not be the perfect solution and it won’t work for everyone, but crowdfunding is certainly an interesting and viable business model that the industry might be headed towards.


Ben Ebell can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !