As the Internet makes collecting money from gamers exponentially easier, independent game creators are starting to experiment with new monetization models.
Apart from the obvious 'microtransaction for items' model that many free to play MMOs are using, there are other possibilities. Indie studio Flashbang recently discussed with the Wall Street Journal
a plan to ask for a six-month subscription for enhanced access to a suite of games.
Moreover, Gamasutra expert blogger Darius Kazemi has just penned an editorial about developer Daniel Benmergui
, who has published his latest art-game, Today I Die
, under a patronage-based model.
In addition, Benmergui "is pursuing a variable patronage model
for his next game" on his website -- with different amounts of donations giving rewards spanning from a mention in the game's credits to a customized version of Daniel's previous games.
Coincidentally, as Daniel launched his game, we were preparing an interview with new website Kickstarter
, which provides an easy to use, formalized structure for donation-based art projects of all kinds, and has just attracted its first indie game project
to its site.
Thus, we sat down with Kickstarter's Perry Chen to discuss the intriguing question of why independent games might join the place of other indie media currently using patronage models for funding:
What made you want to start this service?
I think we all sense that there are great ideas out there with little or no chance of funding from traditional channels.
My personal frustration was that I wanted to bring musicians to New Orleans and I couldn't cover the expenses.
Were there particular people or markets you had in mind?
Initially it was concerts/shows. But very early on I realized that almost everyone had an application for Kickstarter, and that it was very flexible.
Though this is for any artistic work, do you think that video games are an applicable medium for this? And if so, why?
Video games are probably one of the best fits for Kickstarter for 2 reasons:
1. There's a product at the end. Something tangible that backers of the project can receive.
2. The process is fascinating. I'd want to follow a game being made, know the creator's rationale and thoughts, read his/her updates.
What kind of numbers ($) are you finding are perfect for funding amounts right now?
It is completely relative based on the person's network and the appeal of the project. I have projects with goals of $1,000 and $3,000, and my $3,000 one is doing much better.
It's a collaborative book project -- crowdfunding + crowdsourcing combined -- and it (apparently) has more appeal than my $1,000 project.
I think you need to know your network, understand the appeal of your project, and make sure you have fair rewards for backers.
If you tell a good story and people can see your passion and competence, you can attract people beyond your first degree network. That is the key to raising larger amounts -- breaking beyond people you know.
What do you think makes people’s requests for funding stick out?
Videos make things stick out . That personal connection, the simple act of putting yourself out there and talking about your ideas and passion.
Smart and fun rewards are really powerful. They shape the project's story in subtle ways, for example on this music project
What could work for games that might need higher pledge numbers?
To get higher pledges, like $50 or $100 out of someone? you need to be creative and provide real value.
Value can come from low-cost interaction, like the music theory lesson offered in the new orleans music project mentioned above.
If you have a project idea, you probably have knowledge/expertise and people may be interested. I think people want to, both, help each other, and (more importantly) be a part of something. Create an interactive element and you build a bridge.
The real exciting thing for me is small amounts. Getting people involved for the price of a cup of coffee.
And the people who get involved for $1 or $3 can be just as valuable as the big spenders -- they may promote to 50 others.