If you haven’t heard of it yet, Kickstarter is just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. It’s a website designed for people with new ideas and services, entrepreneurs, to do something called crowd-funding. They put their idea or product on the site, and tons of people make relatively small transactions to fund something for a nominal reward – perhaps a free product, a coupon or something to that effect.
Anyone who knows Kickstarter knows about the Tim Schafer Double Fine sensation. In just over eight hours, Schafer and Double Fine Adventure raised over $400,000, and over the course of the fundraising, amassed over $3 million.
But this isn’t the only game to hit it big on the site. Wasteland 2 amassed nearly $3 million as well. Shadowrun Returns racked up $1.8 million while Leisure Suit Larry is currently at nearly $700,000 with a few hours left for fundraising. Kickstarter is providing a way for entrepreneurs to establish a foothold in many different markets, including video games – a market that desperately needs it.
It’s a general rule that entrepreneurship drives a capitalist society, and the video game industry mirrors that. Big corporations making tons of money on one product aren’t often going to go outside the box. Treyarch just announced Black Ops II to no one’s surprise because it’s a safe bet for tons of money, but just how much of the series can we handle? It’ll be hot for some time, I’m sure, but a singular market of Call of Duty competitors like Battlefield, Homefront, Bulletstorm and the like aren’t driving anything anywhere. It’s stale. Without someone bringing new things to the table, the industry as a whole may suffocate.
You’ll notice a strong trend among these small Kickstarter projects. Not a first-person shooter in the bunch. RPG is as mainstream as these get. Games like these push the market along, and so these two forms of entrepreneurship are going hand in hand quite well. A big company can’t – no, won’t – take a risk on projects like these, and so stick to the tried and true formulas.
Not only is Kickstarter giving these titles an outlet, but Sony does an exceptional job of supporting what they call “incubator” studios like Giant Sparrow and thatgamecompany that are shelling out critically acclaimed hits on the PSN. Most recent of these was Journey. Coming down the hatch for PSN are titles like “The Unfinished Swan” and “Datura”, videos for which you can see below.
Xbox Live Arcade has its share of this glory as well with the recent puzzle game Fez, which has brought many players back to a simpler time with simpler, though not necessarily less difficult, games.
“Entrepreneurial” studios like this keep the industry alive and push the boundaries of art and imagination. There’ll be more to say as I get my hands on these titles flooding the market, but for now, all I can say is it’s a good time to be a gamer.