Square Enix today unveiled plans for a curated publishing platform, through which it hopes to bring together creators and players to make more game concepts become reality.
Game designers will be able to post ideas for games to the Square Enix Collective platform
, which can then be judged by the Collective community, made up of players signed up to the platform.
If the community collectively decides that an idea is great, Square Enix will then utilize a new partnership with crowdfunding website Indiegogo to help get the game idea funded and development underway, and provide distribution services once the game is ready to ship.
Any project pitches can be submitted to the platform for free, whether it simply be to receive feedback from players, or to shoot for the Indiegogo funding plan. Square Enix says that the idea is that studios can receive real feedback from real players, and build momentum behind the idea.
Once a game has been on the platform for 28 days, Square Enix then makes a decision on whether or not your game idea has been successful enough to suggest Indiegogo funding is possible.
Note that there's also an evaluation phase, during which the company will check that your game idea meets its submission parameters, and that you yourself have the expertise and tools to actually create the game. If a studio does not make it through this phase, Square Enix will provide feedback on exactly why.
Phil Elliott, head of the Collective community, says that he wants developers "to walk away with the majority of the sales revenue, and we want to reinvest any profits back into the platform."
The underlying concept, says Square Enix, is to encourage an open development process amongst studios, and for developers to offer transparency and communication with the Collective community around all decision-making.
Notably, Square Enix is also offering some of its own IP to the program. If the company decides that an idea could work well with some of its older Eidos IP, it may choose to allow a studio to build a new game using one of these IPs. The specific IPs up for grabs will be announced at the GDC Next conference
next month in Los Angeles.
The Square Enix Collective GDC Next talk
will also delve into details on launch plans for the platform, submission parameters, and game devices you can expect to launch on their the service.
Gamasutra had the following questions to put to Elliott regarding the Collective.
Some devs are going to question why exactly they would want to publically put their game ideas out there to a whole bunch of people, especially when there is so much heat around game cloning/ideas being copied by other devs. How would you respond to these people?
I understand concerns around privacy and cloning – unfortunately there’s always that risk whenever you engage with an audience prior to launch.
At the point when a dev has realized that their idea is gaining traction, what's to stop them pulling out and going to Indiegogo, Kickstarter etc themselves? Do they have to sign an agreement when they put forward an idea stating that you hold the rights to any idea they propose?
Regarding signing an agreement beforehand, there will be submission T&Cs – we're still working on the exact details, but once an idea goes up on Collective, it's a process we'd ask devs to see through to conclusion.
The terms will cover a few things – possible options for the future, not submitting ideas that are knowingly copied, etc – but devs will retain any original IP, that’s something we've sense-checked with a bunch of indie devs to make sure Collective is attractive, not restrictive.
Is it really a great idea to bring gamers into the early stages of game development? I know plenty of developers who believe that gamers don't really know what they want, and that they would rather simply look for ideas they are familiar and comfortable with, rather than hunt down new, fresh ideas. Aren't you just going to end up with a bunch of game ideas being pushed forward that already exist?
In terms of bringing gamers into the process early – I think the way that crowdfunding platforms already work is good evidence that the majority of gamers are pretty savvy when it comes to looking at the potential of an idea. But there's no specific requirement that a campaign owner changes a pitch idea in response to the feedback on Collective if it's going to go against their vision.
That said, I think it's really important that we help to give people a greater understanding of what goes into development and the thinking behind making decisions, whilst keeping an open dialogue.