Thu, 3 Jan 2013, 10:00 am
by Jenni van der Merwe, Do Gaming Journalist
Kickstarter: a crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to fund a project. It’s a nice idea, right? You see a project you like; you pay a small amount for it to be made. In recent months there have been numerous games vying for funding on Kickstarter, and many of them reached their target well ahead of their deadlines.
Clearly this crowdfunding model works and millions of people around the world are willing to pay to see projects come to life – projects that may otherwise have remained drawing-board ideas without the financial injection provided by us.
But could Kickstarter’s popularity be a sign that the end is nigh? Is it possible that Kickstarter can signal the end of the gaming industry, like downloadable music has heralded imminent death for the record industry and indie publishing has begun to suffocate the once-omnipotent world of book publishing?
There's no question about the beneficial impact that Kickstarter has on the gaming industry and its future development.
Already game publishers and developers are struggling to stay afloat. THQ is just floating above the waterline. Zynga has shut offices and laid off hundreds of staff members. For others, like Capcom and its latest survival horror, Resident Evil 6, mediocre sales and poor reviews have left a bad taste in their mouth.
And while there are still many developers and publishers raking it in, I wonder if gamers worldwide aren’t beginning to look elsewhere for entertainment. PocketGamer suggests that Kickstarter is no longer about making money – but rather, it is about gaining attention from “an invested audience.”
The indie world offers us a bigger variety, tailored to our particular gaming desires, like a steampunk survival horror or a FPS-cross-platformer – rather than a one-size-fits-all generic title aiming to please everyone, while simultaneously pleasing no one at all.
Haunts The Manse Macabre is a turn-based horror game, catering to those of us wanting to play online, against the AI or all by ourselves.
PocketGamer has suggested that developers are considering building more games, targeted at more specific or niche audiences – as opposed to releasing titles intended to suit as many gamers as possible.
In this instance, Kickstarter could mean the birth of endless choice and absolute gaming fulfilment – not the death of a multi-billion dollar industry. The crowdfunding platform is offering indie developers a chance to test the waters and understand its target audience before beginning the title’s proper development. This is the pinnacle in user-generated content: pay for the game you want to play.
And even if only those who funded the Kickstarter project end up playing the game, it can be seen as a successful venture for the developers. Continuous successes will lead to continuous funding and a steady stream of the games we want to play.
It’s not over for the big boys yet. If the large publishers and developers are smart, they will begin to recognise the power of user-generated content and gaming, provided by a platform like Kickstarter. Will Kickstarter become a marketing and research tool for large gaming publishers and developers to find out what the market really wants? And can we look forward to a future of highly specialised, flawlessly designed titles that we gave life to?
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