When we created the concept for Collective, we wanted to achieve a number of things. Our overall objective is to help teams to self-publish their games via crowdfunding by using our channels to promote their ideas – in a way that’s adding value and not taking life out of the system. Plus, for our part, we want to build relationships with small developers, and find new creative talent and maybe IP to work with in the future.
But another very important part of Collective – something which I think will have increasing relevance over time – is support for the trust relationship between backers and developers on crowdfunding platforms. It’s a great relationship, when it works, and we recognise that some ideas may only ever become reality in this way, because they’re just not the sort of concepts that investors or traditional publishers would take the risk on. Maybe it’s a crazy notion, but sometimes gamers know what they want better than anybody else…
But that trust relationship is risky. The funding platforms try to make that clear – it’s buyer-beware. Only the developer making a game can guarantee that they’ll provide what they say they will – and it’s sad, but maybe inevitable, that we see headlines about crowdfunded projects for all the wrong reasons from time to time.
Crowdfunding is a fantastic opportunity to introduce such a wide range of games to a wide range of gaming tastes. So is there a way that more confidence can be built into that relationship?
This is why we conduct a Team Assessment on any developer we support through the crowdfunding process. It’s not us saying “These folks will make the game they say they want to,” because we’re not making these games, and nor are we in any legal position to pick up the pieces. We can't make that guarantee.
But - at least we can support the campaign based on understanding their capabilities. We can look at their proposed funding and schedule, what they say they have and what they need, and take a value judgement on whether or not it’s feasible. And I think that’s worth taking seriously.
We have some very experienced people across our Western teams that are ready to assess these teams – studio heads, development directors, gameplay directors; people who, between them, have overseen and shipped a wide range of games, and know what it takes to get to the end of a project.
So far much of what’s been said or written about Collective has focused on the games, or the business model, or the marketing we help with. That’s good – but I hope the value of that independent support will prove valuable over time.
To be clear, ultimately only the developer can guarantee you get your game – they’re the creators, they’re the ones who receive the funds. They have the vision, it’s their IP and their responsibility. But I believe that through Collective, we can give people a little more confidence about helping make something awesome.