Even though Kickstarter mania has been sweeping the indie gaming landscape of late, it is not the only means by which fledgling independent developers can procure funds for their upcoming project. Fairly recently, the developers of indie blockbusters such as Braid, World of Goo and Journey have joined forces in order to provide the most promising young developers a chance to strike out on their own. Although Indie Fund is rather choosy about who they take on, their model will allow niche developers with little to no shot of landing a big time publishing contract the opportunity to have their project funded by developers much like themselves.
Unlike Kickstarter, Indie Fund abides by a more traditional publishing model. Developers will be allocated funds on a monthly basis for the duration of the development cycle. They must provide Indie Fund with monthly builds – more than anything to prove that the funds are going to good use. Once the game is released the recipient must pay back the initial investment and 25% of their revenue thereafter until they have paid Indie Fund exactly twice the amount distributed. Sounds like a pretty raw deal, what if the game fails? In that case, if Indie Fund is not paid double their investment within 2 years after release, the developer is off the hook. It appears that the only scenario where the developer is required to pay Indie Fund back is if the game is not released. Considering that Indie Fund only backs games well into the development cycle, this should not be much of a problem. But given that gaming trends swing rather violently, Indie Fund is certainly taking a calculated risk.
Don’t think that any gamer with a penchant for coming up with ideas will be supported by Indie Fund. They are running a business, and as such seek to maximize their profitability over the long run. Thus far the projects they have backed have been runaway successes (Dear Esther among them) and have allowed Indie Fund to gradually expand their operations.
A publisher who values game quality over dollars and cents, Indie Fund will likely further diminish the stranglehold big name publishers have over developers.