Crowd Funding and the Freedom Some Choose

I don’t want this to be a developer/publisher hate post so I’ll do my best to avoid mentioning too many names too many times.  With that said, I’d like to share a thought… Crowd funding & Kickstarter… let those thoughts simmer.  Do these things interest you in the least?  Do you know what they are?  I think they should at least be familiar.  There is a lot of complaints lately (aren’t they the easiest to find/hear?) about the state of games recently.  “There’s no innovation/originality/story/element x, y, or z!”  Is there any hope in sight?  Isn’t there a ray of sunshine on the horizon?  Is crowd funding the answer?  Well… yes and no.  It all depends on who you are and where you stand with your point of view on the gaming industry.

Why would crowd funding be a good thing you ask?  Well let me put it this way.  I know some people are totally ok with re-skinned games (CoD, Madden, Fifa and stopping there before I make any more enemies lol), but some of us (me and I’m sure one or two others) want something different, something new.  The thing is, from a company perspective, it’s about money.  If it sells, sell it and milk it until it doesn’t.  Sometimes developers have more leeway and don’t have to put something out every year or so, but sometimes publishers want the next game out.  That’s good in moderation and in theory (more games!), but I think in execution it hurts us.

Indie developers have a bit more freedom to get newer-ish ideas out there.  Since almost everything has been done before, we need new spins on old ideas.  The problem is that these indie devs don’t have all the money that publishers have.  So while being independent grants you freedom from corporate pressure, you also don’t have the backing to pay for a bigger team to help most of the time.  They rely completely on personal saving and then the crowd (us/whoever wants to help) to fund the game.  If you find one you’re really interested in you may have to help spread the word about it to help out.  It’s like telling people about a movie that went straight to DVD or game that you really enjoyed that went under the radar… so don’t give me that “that’s weird and it’ll be awkward” junk.

Steam has recently picked up this trend helping some indie devs with their Greenlight and their Early Access Programs.  Greenlight helps get some of these indie games get onto the Steam platform which helps sell games to a super wide audience.  The Early Access bit is for games in their alpha/beta phase that need more funding and if people are interested enough, they can help by giving a (sometimes) minimal fee to get access into the alpha/beta and help give feedback and other sorts of useful/constructive criticisms or praise to the dev to help make their game the best it can be.  We all want the games we play to be awesome don’t we?

So there it is.  I do think that crowd funding can bring upon an era of games that will stand out above the rest.  I’m not saying that all of them will be your AAA games that some of us may desire.  To that I’d say give it time.  You will more than likely see a few that could compete on the AAA scale eventually just given on how tech is going.  However, I would say that you will more than likely find a game that you just can’t put down that probably wouldn’t have received the necessary backing from big publishers.  Of course there will be some terrible games as there is right now, on the plus side, early adopters won’t be losing $60 on a polished turd.

This is a gamble, but in the end, if the devs and their ideas are good, then we may just see more and more from them and more and more talented people being inspired to create something else that will call forth our wallets.  Personally, I’m ready for that call (the shut up and take my money call, I’m not a dev.)

Love it or hate it, let me know!