Are you a fan of The Secret of Monkey Island? How about Maniac Mansion? Day of the Tentacle? Would you like to see a new adventure game crafted in the same style as those classics by the same top talent who created them all in the first place? Fans of Tim Schafer should take note, as the duo are working on a new PC game in the familar point-and-click style at Double Fine Productions. The intriguing part (if you aren't intrigued already) is that the team is using crowd-sourced financing hub Kickstarter to fund the project. What we have here is a game from a famous major developer funded by fans.
Big games cost big money. Even something as "simple" as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title can cost upwards of two or three million dollars. For disc-based games, it can be over ten times that amount. To finance the production, promotion, and distribution of these massive undertakings, companies like Double Fine have to rely on external sources like publishers, investment firms, or loans. And while they fulfill an important role in the process, their involvement also comes with significant strings attached that can pull the game in the wrong directions or even cancel its production altogether. Thankfully, viable alternatives have emerged and gained momentum in recent years.
Crowd-sourced fundraising sites like Kickstarter have been an incredible boon to the independent development community. They democratize the process by allowing consumers to support the games they want to see developed and give the developers the freedom to experiment, take risks, and design without anyone else compromising their vision. It's the kind of creative luxury that most major, established studios simply can't afford. At least, not until now.
There are tiers of rewards for different donations ($15 gets you a copy of the game on Steam when it releases in October, for instance). Double Fine needs to raise $400,000 over the next thirty-three days in order for the game to start development, so you'd better hurry if you want to... oh, wait, sorry; after less than a day of collecting donations, the goal has already been met. From here on, any additional donations will go towards making the game even better and porting it to other platforms. I think this is a fascinating project and I'd love to see other developers follow with this model. Fans have offered to kick in money to fund highly demanded sequels before (the sad tale of Mega Man Legends 3 comes to mind), but I can understand why the old guard of development and publishing may shy away from pursuing the Kickstarter model. Allowing fans to preorder a game early enough in the process to actively fund development changes so much about the traditional way today's games are made. Hopefully we see more of this in the future. I know I'd kick in money to see Aero the Acro-Bat 3, Mega Man X9, or Plok 2 happen if the development teams' hearts were in the project.