Anyone with even the slightest interest in the independent gaming scene is probably at least aware of the recent Kickstarter sensation. The impact the donation based site is having on seemingly inactive, yet not forgotten, game developers is nothing short of revolutionary. And while games like Double Fine Adventures and Wasteland 2 have certainly grabbed the majority of headlines, I might argue that Kickstarter is more beneficial to unestablished indie developers desperately trying to procure funds for their first major release.
If looked at strictly in terms of relative gains and losses, the no-name developer has much more at stake. Consider for instance a small team trying to create an innovative, and dare I say groundbreaking, game on a shoestring budget. Forced to work long hours at their day jobs, these small teams often invest their entire financial futures on one title, only to often times come up empty-handed. Sadly, many pioneering titles never see the light of day because the team cannot keep up with the lofty financial demands game development requires.
For these teams, Kickstarter is nothing short of a godsend. Even though they typically ask for considerably less money (I estimate that rookie teams ask for about $10,000 on average) then more recognizable teams, what they are able to do with that money goes significantly further. Art assets, music, more expansive worlds – all become much more realistic prospects. But more importantly, the comparatively paltry sum of money these startups receive is often times the difference between a game being released or residing in development limbo forever.
Now, that’s not to say bigger devlopment studios like Double Fine do not benefit from user contributions, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe that they wouldn’t have found an alternate means of funding had Kickstarter not existed. Ultimately, gamers get the best of the both worlds. We will receive games from trusted developers as well as young upstarts eager to bring alternatives to PCs and console everywhere. Not a bad deal if you ask me – just don’t forget about the little guy.