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For one Kickstarter employee, Double Fine's project is literally a dream come true
For one Kickstarter employee, Double Fine's project is literally a dream come true Exclusive
February 10, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

Before it became a reality, Kickstarter community director Cindy Au used to fantasize about her company helping one of her favorite video game designers, Tim Schafer, create a new game.

"I remember really early in my days at Kickstarter thinking, 'Wouldn't it be so cool if Tim Schafer were to do a game project at Kickstarter?'" she reflects.

"I remember even sending an email to my new co-workers at the time," says Au, who has been described to us as the company's "resident game enthusiast."

"So to go from that kind of musing two years ago to what happened yesterday has been incredible, as an employee here and on a personal level."

What "happened yesterday" was so huge even Kickstarter itself couldn't have predicted it.

"In my mind I thought, at the end of 30, 35 days or so, they'll probably hit their goal and maybe go a little bit over," Au reflects.

But just 8 hours after launching a $400,000 campaign to raise funds for an "honest to goodness adventure game" led by the creator behind classics like Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, the goal was easily met. The next morning, it had more than doubled. Within 24 hours, funding had surpassed $1 million, breaking Kickstarter's previous records for both the number of contributors to one project and the most money raised in 24 hours.

"They blew those records out of the water," Au tells us. "We were shocked. We were flabbergasted, we were amazed."

"I remember waking up yesterday morning and grabbing my phone and trying to check on the project, and when I saw it was already double the original goal, I just kind of went numb with excitement. And that feeling still hasn't quite worn off."

While most would agree that Double Fine's established base of fans -- particularly from 2005's sleeper hit Psychonauts -- was a huge contributor to its success on Kickstarter, Au is quick to point out that the company had a really good pitch. Developers without such fame should pay attention to it, she says.

"People responded immediately to the Double Fine video because it was funny. It was charming, it was very personal and human," she explains. "But that tends to be the case with a lot of the projects that do really well, especially the video game projects, where you have designers and developers willing to sit down and talk to their audience about what they're doing and what they're making and really open up that process.

"I think that's hugely important for people supporting something. They want to know that the people making this are really passionate about it or excited about it."

As of this writing, the project has raised $1,441,323, and is still growing -- another $20K was raised in the time it took to write this article.

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Camilo R
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Kudos to the Double Fine team. Hope more devs have this kind of success with small projects.

raigan burns
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I think it's a bit of a stretch to try and extend this one isolated event to something that can be repeated (by anyone other than Schafer)... building up a legendary amount of goodwill/fans seems like a precondition for this sort of thing.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Ok, here we go with a different take on the subject...

First of all, I have (had) huge respect for doublefine and what their team has done for gaming, but I think this is terrible news for the indie community looking for funding on places like kickstarter and such. I think that this "I'm sore at publishers so I'm gonna use my fame to get funding" effect completely destroys the fundamental principles of MassiveOnlineFundingModels MOFMs (haha).

The whole point of this internet spaces was giving people funding to projects that couldn't get notice any other way, but the rude intrusion of fame and trajectory rips this noble principle to replace it with HYPE.

I find laughable that the kickstarter double fine adventure game project says nothing of the project itself other than We're cool, and funny and we will make an old school graphic adventure game. While other projects are specific and detail plot ideas, Doublefine is absolutely confident (cocky) about them getting the complete funding and more, they know that they will be featured in steam and know that people will pay more than enough to get their game going. They didn't need this kickstarter fund to make their game, they needed it to add bejewelled rims on their already functional humvee.

Sure, congratulations double-fine team, well done opening the door for celebrities to overshadow all the projects that actually need kickstarter funds. It really disappoints me to see this happening to be honest. I hope I'm wrong, and this will only open up kickstarter as a viable option to the world, and we will all dance and be merry forever, but I think I cant be so naive.

The many other projects with a great ideas that now sit collecting dust in the gutter because none of their members are famous salute you, Doublefine.


BTW Dave Smith, I'd rather keep my "noble ideals", I'm making games, without them I think I'm lost, they shouldn't stop me from finding great ways of fulfilling my projects.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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fair enough, I'm not saying it is exclusively double fine's flaws, and I am not whining... I'm just noting that if you turn a Ideocratic space into a Famocratic space, the ideas will suffer. And I personally don't think that is great.

Robert Boyd
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Lots of major problems with your argument.

1 - Doublefine is famous for being talented. Their fame is deserved. Most people would rather give someone with a proven track record money than someone who is brand new.

2 - Doublefine doesn't need this money to make some kinds of games - the kind that they can talk a publisher into funding. They DO need the money to make this game - they tried shopping it to publishers and nobody offered to fund them. Your average developer doesn't have a huge surplus to make their own projects; they live from one project to another, relying on funding from publishers to pay the bills and everyone's salary.

3 - Doublefine having a successful kickstarter doesn't do anything to detract from other smaller projects seeking funding. If anything, it should be benefical to other projects because they've raised awareness for using Kickstarter to fund game projects.

4 - Doublefine's kickstarter is exceptionally well designed. From the reward tiers to the proposal to the documentary to the promotional video, it's all a great example of how to create a kickstarter project that other developers would be well advised to study.

Jan Kubiczek
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i have to agree with bernardo on one argument: the promotional video shows absolute ZERO about the actual game. its only showing off and throwing names around. i guess thats actually rather vague for a pitch. but hey, if its just a very expensive fan project. well, thats fine.

it feels a little like the facebook ipo to me, though. no substance to go on.

can he actually play the drums?

Bruno Patatas
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With the names attached to the project, you don't need to know specifics at this point. You know it will rock!

DFs pitch works so well because even only with the video, you see them oozing with passion regarding the development of this game.

Then think about all the stuff they will give to backers. It's fantastic! Where a lot of kickstarter indie projects fail is because their pitches are so uninspired (if you are pitching for money you should have marketing skills) and some of the great rewards they give you is your name as thanks on the credits!

Indie developers should look at all this and learn. It's not enough to have a good idea. You need to convince other people to buy into it. Polish those marketing skills :)

Jan Kubiczek
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is there really anything new in here? im sure there are many projects, that are at least as inspired as they are. the thing is nobody buys a date with an unknown developer for 10000 usd without even knowing what kind of game theyll be making. i mean honestly. the days of 12 verbs at the bottom of the screen to move a clunky character around, are over.

honestly, marketings important and yes ive seen people that suck at it. but i think theyre really just using their name here. give me 400000 dollars and lets see if i can make a fantastic game. bet? ;-)

Jan Kubiczek
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youre mixing two very different things, jess. a) the quality of "double fine adventure" and b) the effect of its crowd-funding on kickstarter. i am not talking about b, although i think its very frustrating for people working their ass off to get noticed. if you can live off of spillover, thats fine. ;-)

well have to see about a. i loved psychonauts, but it felt outdated and convoluted, to be honest. brutal legend? HMHMMMMMM. happy action theater? WELL......

the only person, i would give money to without knowing anything about their current capabilities of pulling a certain type of project off would be shigeru miyamoto. :D

may i ask for the page of your companys project?

Bernardo Del Castillo
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It is not a matter of their fame being founded or empty, and it might not affect deeply the whole Kickstarter ecosystem. I agree that their proposal oozes with personality and charm, it is double fine after all, that is what they do.

The point is that they are a huge overshadowing (if colourful and passionate) force on this venture fund (because technically kickstarter is an online massive venture fund). It is not fair on the smaller competitors.

I assure you, I can make an all passionate all witty, all flamboyant video with charm and style.. and I will get next to nothing because I don't have a name. The fact that they can reward you with a documentary video doesn't say how well designed the proposal is, but instead, how much means they have to deliver. They can promise dates with the developers, and plush toys, and copies of the original version of day of the tentacle, NONE OF WHICH have any effect in the actual project.

I dont know iff they NEED the kickstarter money, or they just weren't offered a good enough amount, so they decided to try luck out here.. either way that information is not known. It is mere assumption.

And lets not be naive, if someone goes in to fund games, and sees such an overwhelming media explosion, it will likely modify their funding preference.. All markets are greatly moved by prestige and fame, this is not an exception. If you make it a fame based market, less famous projects will circle the drain.

The same project by an unknown developer would have gotten maybe 1000 bucks.

So yeah, Robert I don't see how my argument is faulty.

I just am trying to say that this picture isn't quite as rosy as everyone seems to believe.

Vinicius Capiotti
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Yeah, Tim Schafer is getting big money because he is a random celebrity, not because he and his team are the most trustworthy to deliver a fucking masterpiece in the specific genre, with the whole process on film.

People are basically saying: "go on mate, your games are really meaningful to me, and I would like to help you on making another game for me." Is that bad? That's beautiful.

And I don't really get how a big studio financed on Kickstarter overshadows small studios in a way "standard-financed" ones don't. Maybe you're imagining people going: "Oh, that's a nice kickstarter game project, but I gave all my 30 bucks to DoubleFine already..."

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Vinicius, once again I am not discussing the quality of Double fine's games, they can be great or terrible, that is not my argument. I personally think they are good, but I also think that trying to make a point and click adventure game today is a bit pointless. (but that is another discussion)

I am saying that this is a fame fueled display of support, on a place that is known for its Idea/project based exposition. No-one in Kickstarter promises you as a bonus, a tour of their studios, or a signed copy of their cult game or anything of the sort. When this objects come into play, then the playing field is not levelled.

Fact is that the project pitch didn't have any real content, and ok.. maybe it is just people rooting for Doublefine, as someone said before, but in that case lets not turn the project into something it is not. An indie studio can't adopt the practice used by Doublefine because it will not work without a name backing you up.

And as of the situation you are presenting, I don't think it is out of the question. Many people might keep looking once they've donated, but also many people might just give their money to the big name and move on, -We know what happens in the real world-.

I'll give you that this is all a matter of supposition and only time will really tell.

Vinicius Capiotti
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I think funding Tim's project requires trust, and it's the same with every other project. You can have this trust by giving details about your project, or you can say "you love my games, you know what I can do."

People who fund games on Kickstarter are not different from the ones who buy games. That's why I don't see much sense on saying people would stop funding their regular games on Kickstarter just because bigger studios use the platform. If they do, it's because they are able to make a decision they couldn't before... and the exciting thing about all this is people making decisions.

I think there is more people who are not used to Kickstarter (and would possibly fund small projects) that will notice it, than people who already fund small games and will stop doing that because of the big ones.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Bernardo, yes, unknown indie developers don't have the same ability to convince people to just give them money on the spot. That's obvious.

More importantly, they shouldn't expect people to throw money at them without a lot of convincing. This worked for double fine because they've already gone through the slog of getting known. You also have two people in this conversation that have gone through successful kickstarter campaigns. Robert Boyd made two fun, polished, small games that proved his company had merit, then made a kickstarter campaign with a very small, reachable goal and a good pitch, then followed it up, making sure people knew about it.

The Guns of Icarus team has similarly gone with a very realistic goal for their project with a ton of commitment to their campaign. They have some fame already, but they've shown a lot of their artwork and prep work. Before this, they also went through the work of starting themselves up from nothing.

I'm just tired of hearing people complain that Double Fine has somehow hijacked this service when they earned every bit of the success that they've received. Game related kickstarter projects have had great success at different levels in the past and they will continue to do so. If you put a project up and it fails, think real hard about who's to blame. Did Tim Schafer cheat you out of your funding? Or do you have to rethink how you're doing things?

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Haha yes its true Mike, I wish I had 2 million to make a game, in that sense I am most jealous.

But to make it perfectly clear, hats off to the people that have worked on kickstarter with a small smart pitch (I know of guns of Icarus, I love the concept of the game). I believe the platform is excellent for this type of endeavour and I really think you are doing a fantastic job. I soon hope to start a project and we are contemplating Kickstarter as a good option, and I do hope we can do as good as you guys have. Maybe I'm too idealistic, but these guys deserve my full support.

Now I don't think Tim Shafer Hijacked the system or anything of the sort, I am saying that he was smart enough to use it greatly to his advantage, which may or may not result in everyone elses advantage. It is quite obvious that its a jungle out there, and it has only become more evident.

Neither am I saying that his fame or trajectory is unfounded and merit-less. Which many people seem to think I'm implying, but rather that he has skillfully used this authority in a medium that IN MY OPINION should not focus on that.

THe same way as I don't expect that I should come out of nowhere, say whatever is on my mind and receive thousands upon thousands of dollars just for my occurrence. That is obvious. But I believe this particular environment should focus more directly on the idea, the process and the exposition of it, not how prestigious the developer is.

As I repeated several times already, the exact same project pitched by XGAMECOMPANY, wouldn't get a second look, and it seems extremely unfair IN THE CONTEXT.

(I know the world is unfair and its tough luck, but lets make it clear... it isn't fair, It isn't fair that doublefine's games haven't sold very well, it isn't fair that they jump in to compete in this league either). I'd say the same thing about any company in the situation, Smart move for you, but probably not the best for everyone. I am not complaining about their success. I am actually discussing the situation that this produces.

For example I much respect the project that Extra Credits started to produce 3 indie titles with their marketing knowledge. But that is completely different. It actually uses its fame and media presence to directly help out struggling developers that HAVE great ideas and CAN pull them off with a bit of help.

What I AM saying that this situation sets precedence to a shift in priorities for investors and projects alike. Maybe it will only change positively and make people aware of this investing platform, but it is not unlikely that it might have a negative impact on smaller projects in the longer run. I hope that I am wrong, but the possibility remains. Would this really be an ideal publishing model for the future? I can't be sure. But the general reaction seems a bit straightforward and innocent.

As I said, I might be completely wrong, but only time will tell.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Okay, I can see how you have some of these fears, and I don't think they are completely unfounded, but I still think you are wrong, and I still don't wouldn't even start to call it unfair.

I think a big part of what you are missing from the xdeveloper pitching only an idea is that you have no idea what to expect from that end result. Yes, the end game is vague, but you are given a lot of information on the inspiration, and you know from inference a lot of what you are to expect. They cut the fat on their pitch because it wasn't relevant to the specific conversation due to existing knowledge of what they make. If you are starting from scratch, it's up to you to make sure these things are known to your potential audience, and no, that is not unfair.

As for shifting investor priorities, again, I think it's a non concern. Look at the rise of indie games in the last few years. Some come out of nowhere, some are from established developers. The existence of this platform for a larger developer doesn't negate the ability for someone smaller to standout as well. Looking at kickstarter right now, there is a project that started around the same time that is also well on its way to success.

In the end, I think this is a really good thing for kickstarter and game development in general, but I don't think it means that anyone can put an idea out and get it funded without serious consideration on their fundraising regardless of where they do it, kickstarter or elsewhere. Double Fine didn't just put out a link that said "give us money". They put a lot of careful consideration into every part of their fundraiser and I would expect a lesser known developer to do the same, but for their audience.

On this topic, I'm curious how you feel if you were to do a kickstarter right now, versus if you did a kickstarter before having a game out on the app store. It's obviously not to the same magnitude as the double fine situation, but I would argue you would have a much easier time now that you can display some kind of track record versus not having anything to show for yourself to backers, regardless of what the idea is.

Raymond Grier
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There well known and 'proven', that's nice but isn't Kickstarter more for people who aren't well known and aren't proven. The further you are from established, the more you need Kickstarter and I thought that was why it was established.

PS: When will Kickstarter finally allow foreign projects or make a foreign project site?

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Kickstarter isn't about helping unproven people. It's simply about providing funding for anything and skipping traditional funding. This was very relevant to the Double Fine project, because as pointed out in the pitch video, they can't get funding for this project from a traditional publisher because they don't believe in the idea. That's why this was such a perfect choice.

I totally agree with you on the international projects, hopefully it''s something they're working on. I imagine there have to be a lot of legal hurdles for something like that unfortunately.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Jonathan, first of all, Thanks for the discussison :)

Well its hard to know what we would do different, even though we are actually planning to submit a project to kickstarter soon.

Initially, and until now, we had planned to focus mainly on completing atractive concept art, initial models, art, storyline and such. We were also thinking of releasing a free teaser demo, More like a cut-scene setting the tone of the game, presenting the world and some aspect of the characters. Simply because we are especially pointing towards a very aesthetically focused game.

We also thought of presenting short videos and features of different components of the game, but none really featuring us, since we don't think we should be a relevant aspect to the appeal of the game.

As many others we were also planning what would be the benefits we would give the investors depending of the amount donated, but once again our thoughts have always been far less ambitious.

What can we change about our plan now? I'm not actually sure, as I said, we are not well known enough to appeal to our fans, and our planned game is not really connected to our previous projects. I doubt we can actually put in motion a media campaign of anywhere near the magnitude of DoubleFine, obviously. But we would try to advertise this opportunity to our current customers.

I feel that if this space becomes massive however, it might be easier to get passer-byes, but it might be harder to actually get people interested in your specific project. And that is rather intimidating, but we are still thinking about what our situation is and evaluating our options. I might elaborate in detail later.

Hope we can do good in the thunderdome.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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It sounds like you have a good start but there are still a lot of pitfalls to watch out for. I've watched a lot of kickstarter campaigns fail and succeed and there's a lot to learn from each of them. There are some great blog posts on here as well. I think this conversation has run its course here, but if you are still interested in discussing the topic, I'd be glad to talk more about it.

Eric McQuiggan
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2 things I with regards to indie games and kickstarter

First, the cool thing about Doublefine doing a project is that there are so many more people who are one step closer to funding game projects. This is a bunch of people you don't have to convince to join kickstarter to fund your game if available. It's not like they only have 30 bucks, for one game.

Second, Indie game developers who Kickstart need to release their games that they have kickstarted! I've backed several and I haven't received any games from game projects! I've received my rewards from non-game projects, and game rewards from other projects, but not any games themselves specifically.

Bruno Patatas
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What Eric McQuiggan said!

Having a good idea is nothing if the ways to execute her are not in place. Game design in specific is not coming up with a gdd and your work is done. You need to be agile and change game systems accordingly if things are not working as planned.

I swear, it's amazing how a lot of the indies of this generation spend the time moaning and bitching. Even the trailer for the Indie Movie is people moaning about how hard game development is. Never has been easier to create a game and to make it available for people to play it. The huge amount of (free) tools is simply amazing. Back in the 80s you had kids writing their code from scratch (forget IDE's or anything like that) who would submit games to magazine competitions. They had passion!

One advice for any aspiring indie dev: if you never created or worked in a game, do not even try to create a kickstart campaign. Do not leave your day job and work on the game on your spare time. Release it for free and add a donations button. Take advantage of the criticism. Learn from your mistakes. After that, when you already have a group of people familiar with your work, start planning a small kickstart campaign.

Tyler Buser
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Like many have said above, I don't think that Double Fine being successful limits the success of smaller teams from raising capital on Kickstarter. Essentially what you've invoking is opportunity cost, the idea that because people gave money to Double Fine they can no longer give money to X. But I really don't see that as a large problem. People gave money because they hunger for this type of game. If another team can invoke that same passion in fans they'll be successful too (granted the team is dependable) because the price point in so low. These aren't $60 price points where gamers have to make tough decisions when they're browsing the aisle. In fact, since people are paying early and delaying their consumption of said games it seems that these fans in particular want to give their money to this particular project, we can't even assume that said fans would have even given their money to any other Kickstarter project at all.

See it for what it is, Kickstarter (and therefore all the game procjets on it) have all just had their profile raised significantly. If Double Fine's game turns into a success, doubly so.

Jen Bauer
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I tend to feel that the hype of Double Fine's project would help get other games to jump on to Kickstarter for funding. After donating to one project, I personally can't help doing a quick search to see if other projects are worth a few of my hard-earned bucks. I don't think it diverts attention from the smaller projects - rather, I'll bet it brings a larger audience to Kickstarter funding overall, which is a great thing.

I hope to have a Kickstarter project myself one day. This gives me more impetus to follow through on that goal.

Vinicius Capiotti
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Yeah, just knowing about Kickstarter is different from feeling how compelling it is to help funding something you want. I think the somewhat emotional and personal aspect of this project can pull a lot of people towards what Kickstarter is about.

Robert Boyd
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Project has about $1.6 million at the moment.

Revenue in breakdown by pledge level:

$15 = $365,160

$30 = $471,990

$100 = $326,200

$250 = $225,000

$1k = $100,000

$5k = $ 50,000

$10k = $ 10,000

and about $100k extra in mid-pledge values

The thing I find fascinating about this data is that over half of their revenue has basically come from pre-orders ($15 level) and Special Edition pre-orders ($30 level). I don't know about you, but if I'm going to preorder a game, I'd much rather have that money going directly to the developer making it to help them with development than to Gamestop or another retailer.

Jeremy Reaban
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What I find fascinating is that so much money has come from people that just don't want to buy the game (either regular or special edition) but just want to basically give them money.

Michael Gribbin
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I gave $5. I have no intentions on playing the game. It's not my genre, I just don't get into them. But I do believe this is a really really cool way to give power to the fans and show respect for the medium and it's fans, and for that it was worth at least 5 bucks.

Darcy Nelson
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Most folks: Well, good for them. Nothing like free money for a worthy, interesting project!

Small, unproven developers waiting to get noticed on Kickstarter: "Hey, down here..." *Heavy sigh*

Grabovskyy Yaroslav
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Nice PR for next game project

Jan Kubiczek
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yeah, double fines going to threaten publishers with going to kickstarter!

Neal Nellans
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Full Disclosure. I currently have a indie kickstarter project in progress:

I think that Bernardo has raised a good point that many of these kickstarter (and other crowdsourcing) PR spins ignore. The marketplace is unfair. This fact is not exclusive to kickstarter. Want to get in the top 20 of the App store? You better have a huge network of high converting traffic or tens of thousands of advertising dollars to spend. Kickstarter is no different from other funding sources in that their primary concern is to get paid. It's reasonable to think that they are going to send their site traffic and promote projects that are closer to being funded and have higher budget goals. They have bills to pay, like everyone else.

It's certainly naive to believe that making a great video that's " funny, charming, very personal and human" as Au states, will grant you a successful funding campaign. This is both neither realistic or indicative of a true indie as most devs that need crowdsourcing don't have a documentary film crew or a multi-million dollar office in San Fran's tech district in which to stage a pitch. My main problem with the kickstarter stuff is that they act as if they are providing a altruistic service that provides completion funds for project that otherwise would not have been funded.

In reality, if Schafer really wanted his studio to develop a point-and-click adventure game, he would have done it with or without kickstarter. The reason Double Fine had such success is that Schafer is a trusted name in the industry and nearly every game site on the net (and hundreds of indie blogs) picked up the story. Now he can do his "uncommercial" point-and-click adventure and has 0% risk. The most important thing is how many hits the funding page gets and he got a lot more media attention by doing the funding this way then just creating a pre-order page on the Double Fine site.

Can Kickstarter help indie devs. Overwhelming yes. Looks at the success of the Muse team. They built a strong core audience over a year with continual development of their "Guns" series, and then made a focused and well-presented pitch on what they wanted to add to their game. Even with this pro presentation they have been clear to disclose that the crowdsourcing funds will not cover their studio costs. Keep in mind that both with Muse and Double Fine, the majority of funding comes from pre-sale orders. So they will get their funding up front, but initial sales will be reduced because they have already presold their first tier customers.

As many have said, I think any additional exposure to indie projects funded in this way is a positive thing that will help everyone in the long run. But will kickstarter help most indie devs, overwhelmingly no.

Bernardo Del Castillo
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Thank you for looking at the issue I was presenting without jumping to passionate arguements straight away. I think your explanation of the conflict is portrayed a lot better as well.

I've also thought about that presale / initial sale conflict, but I suppose this funding system is a lot more about just getting it out there no matter what. In the case of this particular project, as you said it doesn't seem overly important because they have greatly increased their own expectations, and as you said, Doublefine wanted to make an old school point and click adventure game. If it does excellent or good or decent, or even if it flunks in the post-sale market, they have completed their purpose of making one (and probably a 2nd game if they stretch it).

So yeah, I fully agree with your observations and I look forward to seeing how your game goes.

Gil Salvado
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Well, Double Fine already got all it takes to make a great adventure. It's really just the point that publishers nowadays wouldn't bet their money on 2D point'n'click adventures ... because someone up in charge believes it wouldn't sell.

That's really a good position to pitch a project with kickstarter. They got the skills and experience. The only think they lack is the money. You just got to be charismatic enough to convince people to buy your product before you even made it.

Bruno Xavier
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If the big guys says it won't sell, believe them... It won't.

But this is the point I never trusted Quickstarter to begin with, it was a matter of time until cases like this started to pop up.

And now, Joes Noone from Cities Nowhere once again needs to explore new lands far away because the vultures came around already.

E Zachary Knight
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The game won't sell? They have already sold more than 48k copies of the game, over 43k of them specifically just buying the game, and development hasn't even begun.

If by "not sell", you mean it won't sell 50million copies, you are probably right. However, this game has already brought in $1.6million that it otherwise would have never seen.

Glenn McMath
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Do you honestly think that the big publishers have any idea of what will sell beyond what already has? The reason why none of the big publishers are releasing innovative games is because the only thing that they believe in is whatever sold well last holiday season. None of them are looking for modest successes or reasonably profitable titles, which is why they wouldn't fund a traditional adventure game. The idea that the "big guys" have a total grip on the potential success of any given title is ridiculous. They make educated guesses that are more often wrong than right.

I don't believe that this new game from Double Fine is going to break any sales records, but it's basically already proved to be a modest success (by virtue of the funding model, it has already broken even, selling almost 50,000 copies and it isn't even out yet). But E Zachary Knight already covered this...

To get to your main point, it WAS only a matter of time before this happened to Kickstarter. It was inevitable that well-known well-liked independent developers would eventually make use of the amazing funding model that Kickstarter helped pioneer. But why is this a bad thing? Double Fine is an INDEPENDENT DEVELOPER. They aren't exactly the little guy that some companies using Kickstarter are, but that hardly means they have the financial resources to self-fund their own projects, or the industry clout to get publishing deals at the drop of a hat. Hell, they were on the verge of laying off employees before this campaign started because a publisher cancelled one of the unannounced titles they were working on (found this out from an interview on Giant Bomb). They've been working for over a decade to build up goodwill and trust with their audience, but they've never had a major financial success, and they've always had difficulties with publishers. Now they're trying to make a game that thousands of people have been asking them to make for years, with the help of those same people (and other generous supporters), and people are treating this like Activision is trying to get Kickstarter funding for the next Call of Duty game.

I just don't see how Double Fine is ruining Kickstarter for anyone. They're raising awareness of the site and it's potential. I suppose this could open the floodgates for even larger companies to come around, but I think the wrong developer, or especially a publisher trying to fund the wrong type of project using kickstarter would meet with a huge backlash of negative public opinion.

If Double Fine are "vultures," then the corpse they're feasting on is the traditional publisher model (or at least the idea that this is a developer's only option). I'm glad to see it dead, and it means Kickstarter will be alive and well for some time now.

Sean Kiley
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This is a great free market conversation! Group A can't get something from Group B, so they go to Group C. The influence of Group B is weakened while the influence of Group C is strengthened and the choices of Group A are broadened. Group D decides they can improve upon what Group C is doing etc... It's beautiful (no regulation needed!)

Bruno Xavier
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@Mr. Zachary:

Their fans bought the vapourware already... Who is going to buy it when it hits the stores??

Also some casuals may buy it here and there, but the sales are done already. And if the game sux way down, many of those fans are going to make a lot of noise.

But if all this buzz means they had to do that to save their studio, congrats to them.

E Zachary Knight
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Do they need anyone to buy the game after this Kickstarter campaign? I don't think so. This is probably the best funding model any game development studio could ever expect to see. Rather than funding a game in hopes of recouping costs, they are being paid to create the game. Why would anyone complain about that?

Robert Boyd
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Personally, I think any potential sales they lose from their biggest fans already having bought the game, they're going to get back from the buzz and marketing those fans are going to give the game as it's being developed and when it's released.

Bruno Xavier
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Then if I get it right, you mean they do not need to sell the game after it is in the market because their fans paid the bills already. Ok, it sounds fair for us, but that is not how a company should make business.

It is not like they've achieved success already, the right step is to use such funding to produce the game and market it, not keeping the money in their pockets, isn't that what funding's for?

If they do keep the money for themselves and forget about marketing the game for the open market, may be there a legal issue.

So, they are legally forced to try to sell the game after making it... And again, who is going to buy it after their fans already got their copies through quickstarter?

I don't want to sound like I want them to fail, I just want to understand what they'll do to make a game be successful based on the decision they've made.

Glenn McMath
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They have already stated what the extra money will go toward, and it isn't for padding their bank accounts. They are going to use it for:

-Expanding the game's scope

-Increasing the production values (more and better quality voice work, a bigger soundtrack, better art assets, etc.)

-Porting the game to more devices (expanding their potential audience)

-Translating the game into more languages (allowing them to release in more regions)

Even with all the buzz surrounding the Kickstarter campaign, there will be people who won't hear about this title until it hits the market. If they make a quality game (which isn't a guarantee, but seems likely given the track record of talent involved), they shouldn't have any problem selling a decent number of copies after the game is released. And the thing is, even if they only sell one copy, they've made a profit. Since the Kickstarter campaign surpassed their projected budget (by 4x) they are essentially finishing the game cost-free (as long as they don't go overboard with their expansions of the original plan).

While you could look at it from the perspective that they've diminished their sales by taking people's money up front. I prefer to think of it as they've guaranteed that the game will at least sell well enough to pay for its development (because it already has). Anything post-release is pure profit, and only time will tell how much of a profit there will be.

E Zachary Knight
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I think Glenn answered you as well, or better than, I could.

No one is saying they aren't going to sell their game after development is done. They were planning to take it to Steam upon release.

But why would there be a legal issue if they didn't release the game upon completion? As long as all the Kickstarter funders got the promised rewards (which includes a copy of the game) they would have fulfilled their obligations.

Bruno Xavier
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Oh now I see. If cases like this repeats again and again I think we may expect a big publisher buying quickstarter sooner or latter.

And Mr. Zachary, it would turn into a legal issue if they intentionally make a poor marketing campaign using, lets say 5% of the money, and keep all the rest to themselves. It may sound weird, but things like that happens a lot, specially in my country...

Thanks for the good appointments :)

Glenn sorry, but I do not see them as independent developers.

Glenn McMath
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I guess that explains why we disagree :)

To be clear, I think there may be a worthwhile difference between "independent" and "indie" developers. Double Fine is unquestionably independent, as they are not owned by a platform holder or publisher, nor do they have a blind multi-game deal with one (while they have made a few games for Microsoft, Microsoft never said "We're going to publish your next 5 games"). The studio is entirely owned by Tim Schafer (as far as I can tell) who is also their Creative Director.

That said "indie" seems to have it's own connotation beyond being independent. For most people, Indie seems to mean "small team" and "little to no money." Double Fine doesn't qualify for this first aspect (last I heard they were about 80 people... still small by AAA game studio standards). As for the second aspect, while they have more money than most indie studios would, they also have higher operating costs. How well they are doing financially is up for debate. But it's pretty clear that they (like most independent developers) aren't in a position to completely fund their own games.

Take from this what you will, but I would like to hear your definition of an independent developer if Double Fine doesn't qualify.