Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 24, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 24, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Who Needs Kickstarter? Prison Architect devs want total control Exclusive
Who Needs Kickstarter?  Prison Architect  devs want total control
October 10, 2012 | By Mike Rose

October 10, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

At a time when Kickstarter is the way for developers to bypass publishers and pull in investments directly from fans, one indie studio has decided to cut out the middleman -- to great effect.

UK-based Introversion, best known for Uplink, Defcon, and Darwinia, recently launched a crowd-funding effort on its own website. It looks incredibly similar to Kickstarter, with the obvious bonus that there's no other company taking a chunk of the intake.

It appears that the more direct Kickstarter/Minecraft approach is working wonders for Prison Architect too -- as is notable from the sales figures image below, the game has made over $270,000 in two weeks, with nearly 8,000 sales total.

"Kickstarter is for getting projects off the ground, and we were already two years into Prison Architect's development so it just didn't sit well for us," explains Introversion co-founder Mark Morris.

"By doing it ourselves, we don't have to time limit the alpha, and we hope that we'll get more and more gamers interested as we progress and start releasing the updates."

alpha sales.jpgClick to enlarge

Morris also notes that his studio simply had no idea what target to aim for, making a Kickstarter campaign even more difficult -- says the Introversion man, "By controlling the process ourselves, we can shape our development to the success of the alpha.

"We don't have to pay the Kickstarter fees which is nice, but I guess Kickstarter may have added value if they had listed us as a featured project," he adds. "We also had to take the time to set up our own technology to implement the tiering. We used a service called Digital Delivery App, which I can really recommend, but it did take effort on our part."

One of the most interesting parts of the current sales figures is that the $50 tier (in which backers can put their own name and persona into the final product as a prisoner) is the second best-selling tier, after the base $30 tier. Is it simply the idea of injecting your own name into the game that is causing people to grab this tier in spades?

"I think they're actually buying something much more than that," reasons Morris. "They're paying to help Introversion finish the game and assist in molding the direction the game takes and the features and gameplay that we create."

"There's a huge amount of generosity out there and I think the people who go for the 'Name in the Game' tier are proud of what they've done and want to be able to point to their prisoner and say -- I helped make that!"

Off the back of this success, and with Kickstarter successes happening regularly, does Morris think there's any space for publishers anymore?

"I think publishers add value for triple-A titles, but that's it," he tells us. "At the small and medium level, there is absolutely no benefit from working with a publisher."

He adds, "I firmly believe that developers are best place to form the relationship with Steam and control the marketing and PR for a game launch. Publishers are completely redundant in the indie world."

Related Jobs

Bohemia Interactive Simulations
Bohemia Interactive Simulations — Prague, Czech Republic

Game Designer
Next Games
Next Games — Helsinki, Finland

Senior Level Designer
Activision Publishing
Activision Publishing — Santa Monica, California, United States

Tools Programmer-Central Team
Crystal Dynamics
Crystal Dynamics — Redwood City, California, United States

Senior/Lead VFX Artist


John Ingato
profile image
Wow, that was a really bad in the hell did they get over a quarter of a million dollars?

Good for them though...congrats

Aaron San Filippo
profile image
Really? I thought it was brilliant; it actually kinda made me want to buy the game. How many times have you seen developers show off hilarious bugs that you'll only get to see if you pre-purchase?

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
I think it matches the theme of the game pretty well. That is, "look at us, we are being totally serious over here... no really, we are. Ok, you got us. We aren't."

David Young
profile image
The video accurately represents the game in its current form, whats wrong with that? The bugs are many and hilarious but the game itself does show a lot of promise. Introversion have garnered a lot of good will over the years, I don't think they've ever released a bad game (Multiwinia is the closest they've come but even then its entertaining) so I think thats where a lot of the supports come from.

Samuel Green
profile image
Yeah it was hilarious. Did you not watch the whole thing? The awful trailer voice was a joke.

I paid for the $50 package. I love the idea of the game, I'm a big fan of Introversion and putting my own little easter egg in the game is a nice little bonus that gives me an excuse to support an indie other than charity. Plus, I can't wait to hunt for my prisoner!

Andrea Phaneuf
profile image
I'm wondering what kind of deal that they made with PayPal. I know that PayPal frown on Pre-orders and often freeze the accounts, and you have to be a non-profit to accept donations. I wish they would of given some insight on how they made this possible with PayPal.

Aaron San Filippo
profile image
I think if you're sending an early-release version of the game, it's not technically a "preorder." We ran into a similar issue with FastSpring, and solved it by including an in-development release so there was a tangible transaction happening.

Andrew Traviss
profile image
This isn't really a pre-order system given that they give you access to the product immediately.

Joel S
profile image
Path of Exile is also using a similar non-kickstarter kickstart idea

Brandon Sheffield
profile image
was that an attempt at an american accent in that video? seems like maybe it might've been.

I'm similarly underwhelmed by the video, but introversion has a solid existing fanbase, and much more appeal in the UK, so I'm sure they knew what they were doing there.

Todd Boyd
profile image
5-PA-100-PhysicalPleasures? What?