Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
When players buy your game before it's done: Expert tips on alpha funding
View All     RSS
February 27, 2021
arrowPress Releases
February 27, 2021
Games Press
View All     RSS

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


When players buy your game before it's done: Expert tips on alpha funding

July 30, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 7 Next

"Before we were aware of alpha funding, we just wouldn't have ever considered any remotely sandboxy game. By that I mean the game we want to make ultimately, perhaps years down the line from today. The coding time, the art demands, the writing for that envisioned game would be so monstrous a development time [so as to make] funding it full time until completion an impossibility."

Without alpha funding, The Indie Stone would have opted to create a multiplayer platformer for Xbox Live Indie Games instead of Project Zomboid. How fortunate for both the team and the players that they chose to go all-in!

"As long as, obviously, you know you're capable of ultimately making the thing some day, and can keep moving toward that goal, then you can have as lofty ambition as you like," Simpson says. "That's quite liberating. And if you do well enough to expand, you may get there quicker than you set out to do."

I asked Simpson why a studio would choose to go with alpha funding rather than crowdfunding, especially given just how popular Kickstarter is these days.

"Kickstarter is the better route for those kind of games where the backers don't want to have the game or story spoilt before it's finished," he reasons.

But he also notes that using a combination of Kickstarter and alpha funding can potentially have great effect. "If you do a Kickstarter then do alpha funding, then Kickstarter is a great way to bring attention to the game as well as fund it, and directs people to [Steam] Greenlight too," he says.

Simpson's tips for those studios looking to jump on the alpha funding bandwagon are as follows:

Listen to your community. Let it steer your priority list of planned features and take on board popular ideas. But at the same time, keep to the principles of your core game idea. Immerse yourself into the community, even if there are bad spots. The good times are good! Support the YouTubers and streamers as they are your life blood. Modding is awesome.

The price point on the first version should be cheaper than every version thereafter, both morally and also for the understanding and support of your community if there are bumps in the road. They are paying alpha price.

DRM seems to make no difference at all from what we've seen.

Keep updates regular. ...But don't let the (sometimes rather intense) pressure get to you with updates, and hold [the updates] back a few days if it needs it. The code has to evolve over years, as the game design often does also, so don't be afraid to have to rip something major out and replace it -- otherwise repeatedly bending code to your -- or the community's -- will takes its toll on the stability of the game. Maintain multiple branches of the game for different severity levels of development, and merge changes.

David Rosen - Overgrowth 

Wolfire's Overgrowth is easily one of the longest-running alpha funding campaigns for a video game to date.

Anybody who has preordered the game since 2008 has been able to grab the latest alpha build of the game, and Wolfire has now been providing regular alpha build updates for nearly five straight years.

"Alpha funding is more appropriate for games that are driven by mechanics, and less appropriate for those driven by content," Wolfire's David Rosen tells me. "Action or strategy games usually find the fun pretty early on, and progressively expand and refine it, so they are engaging to users at any stage of development."

He echoes the sentiment of other developers that I talked to, stating that both multiplayer games and procedural single-player games are good candidates for alpha funding.

"Dota 2, Don't Starve, and FTL are good examples of this approach," he says. "Puzzle or story games don't usually work as well with alpha funding, because they are only meant to be experienced once, and usually don't become fun until the game is mostly complete."

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 7 Next

Related Jobs

Bitwise Alchemy
Bitwise Alchemy — Austin, Texas, United States

Senior Software Engineer (Remote)
DigiPen Institute of Technology
DigiPen Institute of Technology — Redmond, Washington, United States

Curriculum Developer in Visual Effects for Real-Time Engines
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Tools and Pipeline Programmer
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Senior or Lead Tools and Engine Programmer

Loading Comments

loader image