If Kickstarter could speak, I think this is what it would say:
“Game developers, meet fan base.”
“Fan base, meet game developers.”
Game publishing has changed and there is no going back. For good or for worst we’ll see, but I would lean towards good. If you’ve missed out on all the Double Fine fun, worry not, Wasteland 2 will be coming soon. With your help, it might even make it to Mac! I think this is one of the most interesting things that has happened to the video game industry since Steam and the Indie revolution. Lets dig deeper…
One of the first thing that struck me about both Double Fine and Wasteland 2 is the fact that both games offer DRM free versions. The publishers want to make buyers feel bad when they download illegal copies of games, but in reality, all they are hurting are the huge wallets that have refused to publish games we want to play and that game developers want to create! Or worst, ruin old classics! Take X-Com for a tragic example.
If you aren’t sure what a DRM free download is, well basically you can take the game, create a torrent and share it with the world. It will work! I am definitely not encouraging you do that, but it’s interesting to see how game studios don’t care about it. All they care about is making fun games, and live decently off of that. Which to me sounds respectful.
A comparison to iTunes could be made here, which changed the way people buy music. Publishers lost big because of Napster, but they lost even bigger because anyone can self-publish on iTunes. The same can be said about Steam. The stupid middle-man (suit clad publisher), who will measure a game’s quality by the amount of copies sold, can now be skipped all-together.
Or can it? Indies have used Kickstarter in the past, but also Alpha version pre-orders and other ways to fund they’re games. What the system brings is a way to fund more expensive games, or bigger teams, who have a product people have been waiting for. I would tend to think this funding method will get more and more popular with time.
So they lived happily ever after?
Not so quick. As many have mentioned, all it takes is for one huge scam and everyone will most definitely back away… or will they? I can already imagine a game-oriented Kickstarter-like page on Steam. That would be awesome. So even if Amazon fails (and they definitely will take any steps required so it doesn’t happen), the crowd-sourced funding method will not.
Finally, what’s great about this phenomenon is the games aren’t even sold yet. The game studios will make even more money once the sales start. I bet you they’ll make enough for a couple of updates and maybe even patches/DLC. In the end, publishers will always be there for huge titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty, but could you imagine the next Skyrim being funded this way? ABSOLUTELY.