One of the joys of crowd funding is the involvement it gives to gamers. Anton Wegenast reports on how that has lead to valuable project oversight
With the astronomical rise in popularity of crowd-funding this past year, the gaming industry has seen some changes. When groups of end users give money to support a cause, they immediately become interested in where it is going. While crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter allow developers to bypass the need for a publisher, they may soon find themselves accountable to many more questions.
Developer Alex Peake, who successfully Kickstarted his programming-teaching game Code Hero, found himself under fire recently over backer concerns. A backer, Dustin Deckard, saw a lack of updates on the progress Primer Labs was making in their development of Code Hero. Deckard rallied other like-minded investors together to show Primer Labs that they expected regular reports on what they were doing with the money provided to them.
Peake responded to criticism by updating the Code Hero page, and assuring backers that development of his project was still under way. In this case, disgruntled backers have effectively replaced the role of a publisher, asking questions about timelines and keeping the creators accountable.
It’s no secret that crowd-sourcing has become big money quickly. The recent expansion of Kickstarter into the UK assures that it will only grow exponentially.
In anticipation of questions, and seeking to keep the development process transparent, some projects are very active on blogs and forums. Development teams are even involving backers and outsourcing creative elements to them. Developer inXile has done just that with its upcoming game Wasteland 2. After a successful campaign the devs have recently made an appeal to their fans for help. In order to keep their team focused on elements that will directly impact gameplay, inXile has chosen to involve the public in creating some of the 3D models to be used in the game.
While inXile’s move is a little unconventional, you can see that it keeps their community involved. The tactic also indirectly answers some questions about progress. The devs are assuring the fans that development is rolling forward and what’s more, that the team is focusing their time on the most important aspects of the process.
It is not just small companies that are letting the public see the development process trials either. Peter Molyneux and his new studio 22 Cans are being very vocal over their pressing need for funding. Molyneux and his project Godus, are looking to avoid taking on a publisher, but he is worried about the state of the Kickstarter campaign. Here the public can observe the struggle for funding new projects face, but is often held behind boardroom doors with publisher meetings.
Even a large developer like Irrational Games is holding itself publicly accountable for a recently announced delay. While some games are delayed and no statement is issued to justify it, BioShock Infinite developer Ken Levine took to the microphone and let everyone know exactly why the game had been pushed back. Levine explained the delay, but his tone was definitely apologetic. It was as if he was speaking directly to disappointed fans, not just informing, but reassuring.
As alternate means to create games become accessible, so does the entire process. The public is getting increased exposure to how their games are made, how they are funded, and the struggles they encounter to reach the end of development. It is clear that developers need to get used to public scrutiny, transparency, and ultimately acceptance as their fans get more involved in how the games are made, especially if their money helped fund the process.
Follow Anton on Twitter: @virussixzero