Easily the most interesting thing happening in the gaming world at the moment is the incredible amount of money donated to Kickstarter to bring retro games back from the dead. Since the beginning of March gamers around the world have contributed over $10,000,000 to crowd-source the production of inventive new games and sequels fans have been clamouring for, in some cases decades, but publishers were too afraid to back. Enter Kickstarter. For those of you that don’t Know, Kickstarter works by letting people post a project and then set a target donation which it must reach.
If it doesn’t reach the target the creators get nothing. If people browsing the site are interested by a project they can donate money and get a reward. For example, someone that donates $30 might get a copy of the game when it is released. Someone who donates $1000, on the other hand, might get a signed copy, lunch with the creators and a character in the game – a great way to attract those big bucks, right!
It all started with Tim Schafer the designer behind hugely acclaimed games like Psychonauts, Grim Fandango and The Secret of Monkey Island 2. Tim wanted to create a classic point-and-click adventure game in the vein of Monkey Island, but publishers didn’t think there was enough of a market these days to warrant taking the risk and so he turned to Kickstarter.
To make the game he estimated it would take $400,000. Eight hours after release they had achieved their goal and after a month they had amassed an enormous $3,336,371 making it the most successful Kickstarter project ever. It also legitimised Kickstarter as a realistic way for games developers to bring long forgotten games back from the dead without being tied to strict publishing houses.
Then came Wasteland 2, spiritual precursor to the immensely popular Fallout series. It was the first RPG that allowed players to split parties for tactical game play, to make moral choices and to deal with them when they come back to haunt you. IGN even placed it in their list of top 25 PC games of all time. That game raised $2,933,252.
Now a whole host of developers are coming out of the woodwork hoping to rekindle gaming long forgotten past. In May, developers are set to kickstart a new version of Leisure Suit Larry and Crate Entertainment a spiritual successor to Titan Quest, called Grim Dawn.
It’s amazing to think that 85% of all the cash donated to Kickstarter for March and most of April has been raised through five games alone. It’s really put Kickstarter on the map, too. For May alone they’ll have made a cool $500,000 (their 5%) for making all this possible.
One thing I must warn you of before you go blasting your money on various projects is that Kickstarter is essentially like gambling. You back the horse that you like the sound of and hope that it wins both in terms of meeting the target and providing the results you’re expecting. With the all this boosted interest I predict it will only be a matter of months before the first Kickstarter scandal. Don’t let that dissuade you though. Pick your projects carefully and keep an eye for future releases that have a retro twinge to them. I think you’ll be able to have a pretty good guess which ones came from Kickstarter.