Wherein pessimism can't diminish what Double Fine did.

Posted by Kiro_LeMark (65 posts) -

So as of 5:00 AM, I'm looking at $1,248,916 dollars donated by 33,771 people who want Double Fine to make a game. And I say donated, in the sense that Minecraft worked off donations. In this bizarre alternate reality where goodwill means more than exclusive retailer weapons and new copy content. Where people reward talent in an attempt to live vicariously through the Double Fine team to do what many of them at one point or another wanted to do.

To be part of the making of a video game they believed in.

And although there is probably a decent percentage of those people that just wanted to be part of the new thing, that drive itself seems to be a force to be reckoned with. This magical setup in which the consumers can hand the money directly to the developers and get the games they want. Of course, like anything else, there have to be some pretty fundamental changes to the way video game companies do business in order for a model of this type to be worth pushing people towards.

But with so many laid off or on shaky ground nowadays, how many times does something like this have to happen before the industry realizes that the reason this worked is for the same reason free to play games yield more consistent results. If you are upfront about what you can do, what you are doing and what you will do for a consumer, the number of concessions that consumer is willing to make increases drastically.

It's why a broken dragon is bad in Skyrim and funny in Minecraft. Skyrim shouldn't be broken, because it was presented as an amazing experience from the off. There was never any contact with any developer that wasn't completely sanitized. Every interview was full of PR spin. Every thousand screenshots released daily for that game were selling an experience that the game, amazing as it may be, would be hard pressed to ever accomplish.

And while I have no idea how to find the numbers, I'd say there's a larger portion of the Minecraft userbase using mods than there are Skyrim proportionately to their install base. Not because it's any easier, or does more for the product. But because the sense of a community affecting a game as it grows and develops was always there with Minecraft.

And this isn't to say that people will stop playing Call of Duty. This kind of thing is probably an interesting piece of news in Facebook and Twitter accounts across the world. The change isn't taking place there. The biggest difference I see coming is an entire generation of people who grew up in a time when a small team could make an amazing and tight experience without all the bells and whistles that pass for value today, coming together and speaking with their wallets. It won't be about what you don't buy, and that's a refreshing thought.

#1 Posted by Kiro_LeMark (65 posts) -

So as of 5:00 AM, I'm looking at $1,248,916 dollars donated by 33,771 people who want Double Fine to make a game. And I say donated, in the sense that Minecraft worked off donations. In this bizarre alternate reality where goodwill means more than exclusive retailer weapons and new copy content. Where people reward talent in an attempt to live vicariously through the Double Fine team to do what many of them at one point or another wanted to do.

To be part of the making of a video game they believed in.

And although there is probably a decent percentage of those people that just wanted to be part of the new thing, that drive itself seems to be a force to be reckoned with. This magical setup in which the consumers can hand the money directly to the developers and get the games they want. Of course, like anything else, there have to be some pretty fundamental changes to the way video game companies do business in order for a model of this type to be worth pushing people towards.

But with so many laid off or on shaky ground nowadays, how many times does something like this have to happen before the industry realizes that the reason this worked is for the same reason free to play games yield more consistent results. If you are upfront about what you can do, what you are doing and what you will do for a consumer, the number of concessions that consumer is willing to make increases drastically.

It's why a broken dragon is bad in Skyrim and funny in Minecraft. Skyrim shouldn't be broken, because it was presented as an amazing experience from the off. There was never any contact with any developer that wasn't completely sanitized. Every interview was full of PR spin. Every thousand screenshots released daily for that game were selling an experience that the game, amazing as it may be, would be hard pressed to ever accomplish.

And while I have no idea how to find the numbers, I'd say there's a larger portion of the Minecraft userbase using mods than there are Skyrim proportionately to their install base. Not because it's any easier, or does more for the product. But because the sense of a community affecting a game as it grows and develops was always there with Minecraft.

And this isn't to say that people will stop playing Call of Duty. This kind of thing is probably an interesting piece of news in Facebook and Twitter accounts across the world. The change isn't taking place there. The biggest difference I see coming is an entire generation of people who grew up in a time when a small team could make an amazing and tight experience without all the bells and whistles that pass for value today, coming together and speaking with their wallets. It won't be about what you don't buy, and that's a refreshing thought.

#2 Edited by Whamola (131 posts) -

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This type of would-be free-market rules ideology is neat right now when only one developer is doing it is doing it, but it has such a big potential for evil.

The first problem I can see is if this style of funding becomes popular, there's a good chance we'll start seeing big games being held hostage. What I mean by that is, a game with a huge player-base, like Call of Duty can say, "Hey, it's going to take 50 million to make the next Call of Duty, here's our kickstarter, if we don't get enough money, you don't get your game. Start donating!" The player base WILL pay (especially if they bribe the players with some minor incentive, like a free exclusive gun or title), the game will be made at NO cost to the developer, and they'll make money off the people who didn't donate, but bought the game when it was released.

Furthermore, if this becomes popular, there's no point in trying to make the best game you possibly can because there's no risk involved from a business perspective. When someone gets funding from a big game studio, there's massive pressure to make sure the game is as good as it can be because if it's a bomb and undersells and you lose the company's money, you're boned and you lose the goodwill you have and maybe even your job. If a publicly funded game is garbage, who cares? It cost you no money to make, and as is the trend with kickstarter fund raisers, you still more than likely have a lot of money left over from people who over-donated. Sure, you can say that old ridiculous Libertarian stand-by of, "Well the public will have learned their lesson and next time they WON'T vote with their dollars!" But honestly, as much as I hate to say it, gamers are often like abused spouses when it comes to bad games. I knew people who legitimately played Star Wars Galaxies to the end, all the while deluding themselves into thinking that it would become better soon.

So who knows, maybe publicly funded games will stay a rarity, but if they don't, it's foolish not to think that there's a lot that can go bad with them.

#3 Edited by IAmNotBatman (658 posts) -

I wonder how much MORE money Activision would make if they said "Hey, we don't want to make Call Of Duty anymore... Persuade us"~ Using Kickstarter.

#4 Edited by WilltheMagicAsian (1547 posts) -

If games start using the pledge model and then say, six months in, the studio closes down or the game just doesn't come to fruition, what happens to the pledgees? I haven't really done any research but what happens when a Kickstarter project goes up in flames after the money was already spent?

#5 Edited by RollingZeppelin (2078 posts) -

@WilltheMagicAsian: Everyone would be out the money they donated, that's why it's called a donation.

@IAmNotBatman: I'm fine with that situation as they wouldn't see any money out of me. I don't see casual gamers paying upfront for this anyway which means no more CoD, win-win.

#6 Posted by dudeglove (8165 posts) -

It's not a donation, morons. Some of you are viewing this as a charity fundraiser, when it's not. It's a business proposal.

#7 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@dudeglove said:

It's not a donation, morons. Some of you are viewing this as a charity fundraiser, when it's not. It's a business proposal.

Not really necessary to call people morons. I can see why he called it that, a donation is typically for charity but it doesn't have to be. It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns. Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free, but if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

#8 Posted by BrianP (497 posts) -

@Whamola said:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This type of would-be free-market rules ideology is neat right now when only one developer is doing it is doing it, but it has such a big potential for evil.

The first problem I can see is if this style of funding becomes popular, there's a good chance we'll start seeing big games being held hostage. What I mean by that is, a game with a huge player-base, like Call of Duty can say, "Hey, it's going to take 50 million to make the next Call of Duty, here's our kickstarter, if we don't get enough money, you don't get your game. Start donating!" The player base WILL pay (especially if they bribe the players with some minor incentive, like a free exclusive gun or title), the game will be made at NO cost to the developer, and they'll make money off the people who didn't donate, but bought the game when it was released.

Furthermore, if this becomes popular, there's no point in trying to make the best game you possibly can because there's no risk involved from a business perspective. When someone gets funding from a big game studio, there's massive pressure to make sure the game is as good as it can be because if it's a bomb and undersells and you lose the company's money, you're boned and you lose the goodwill you have and maybe even your job. If a publicly funded game is garbage, who cares? It cost you no money to make, and as is the trend with kickstarter fund raisers, you still more than likely have a lot of money left over from people who over-donated. Sure, you can say that old ridiculous Libertarian stand-by of, "Well the public will have learned their lesson and next time they WON'T vote with their dollars!" But honestly, as much as I hate to say it, gamers are often like abused spouses when it comes to bad games. I knew people who legitimately played Star Wars Galaxies to the end, all the while deluding themselves into thinking that it would become better soon.

So who knows, maybe publicly funded games will stay a rarity, but if they don't, it's foolish not to think that there's a lot that can go bad with them.

This makes no sense. Activision has the money and the manpower to make games like Call of Duty without crowd sourcing funding, and they know that they will make their money back and then some (ok, and then A LOT). They have absolutely no real motivation to move to this system, because they already have very low risk financially and the only outcome would be them looking really bad, and that is bad for business. On the other hand, Doublefine has no other way to fund this game, and would probably not want to risk money and resources for a project they are unsure would be successful financially.

To your second point, I think blowing off the fact that people would not give money a second time to someone who made a poor product because "gamers are often like abused spouses" is really strange. If people didn't like the game, they wouldn't contribute again, or if some liked it and some didn't the developer would naturally scale down the scope of the next project. People buy things they like and believe to be good quality and stop buying things they don't like or are disappointed in (see the American auto industry), that is just kind of how the world works.

#9 Posted by dudeglove (8165 posts) -

@jozzy said:

It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns.

Ha! Take a moment to read Kickstarter's help section.

http://www.kickstarter.com/help/

Here's a gem

No charity or cause funding. Examples of prohibited use include raising money for the Red Cross, funding an awareness campaign, funding a scholarship, or donating a portion of funds raised on Kickstarter to a charity or cause.

Also

Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free

No they bloody well haven't. I get the game if I pledge - and I have. People who haven't will not be given it "for free". For the first and last time: This. Is. Not. A. Charity.

And

if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

Kindly define "blows up" and "nothing", because if you're of the extreme stance of "Double Fine are going to take the money and run! They're gonna screw us all over! Why haven't they given the extra to kids in Darfur!?" and/or see no value in a serialized documentary of the entire process then, well, you really are a moron.

#10 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@dudeglove said:

@jozzy said:

It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns.

Ha! Take a moment to read Kickstarter's help section.

http://www.kickstarter.com/help/

Here's a gem

No charity or cause funding. Examples of prohibited use include raising money for the Red Cross, funding an awareness campaign, funding a scholarship, or donating a portion of funds raised on Kickstarter to a charity or cause.

Also

Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free

No they bloody well haven't. I get the game if I pledge - and I have. People who haven't will not be given it "for free". For the first and last time: This. Is. Not. A. Charity.

And

if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

Kindly define "blows up" and "nothing", because if you're of the extreme stance of "Double Fine are going to take the money and run! They're gonna screw us all over! Why haven't they given the extra to kids in Darfur!?" and/or see no value in a serialized documentary of the entire process then, well, you really are a moron.

You should really stop calling people morons because it seems you yourself don't understand what people are trying to say here with the term "donation". I said: a donation is typically for charity but it doesn't have to be. Ergo, in this case it's not a charity.

I could've have worded the "you get the game for free" better. I meant, if you pay $15 or more you will get the game if it ever gets finished, I thought that was pretty clear because we were talking about donators, not about random people getting games for free.

And nowhere did I say they were going to screw up over and run away with your money, not sure where you reached that conclusion. Like Tim himself says in his video, this could all go very wrong and there might never actually be a game. That's why the OP called it a donation, you pledge your money but nowhere is there a legal obligation for Double Fine to actually deliver on any or all of the promises made. If I am incorrect about the last part, feel free to call me out.

Not sure why all of this seemingly makes your blood boil so much.

#11 Posted by Dagbiker (6978 posts) -

@RollingZeppelin said:

@WilltheMagicAsian: Everyone would be out the money they donated, that's why it's called a donation.

@IAmNotBatman: I'm fine with that situation as they wouldn't see any money out of me. I don't see casual gamers paying upfront for this anyway which means no more CoD, win-win.

Its not called a donation its called an investment, but alot of times investments go bad

#12 Posted by TheHBK (5554 posts) -

@jozzy said:

@dudeglove said:

It's not a donation, morons. Some of you are viewing this as a charity fundraiser, when it's not. It's a business proposal.

Not really necessary to call people morons. I can see why he called it that, a donation is typically for charity but it doesn't have to be. It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns. Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free, but if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

Exactly. And Schafer is not exactly known for staying on budget lately. Or delivering on time... There is a reason publishers exist with some power over the developer. It gets things done. See the Diablo III development for a little view of what happens when a developer doesn't have to answer to anyone. Yes they do have a publisher but because Activision is giving them free reign on Diablo III, you get delay after delay and restart of the project.

#13 Posted by Irvandus (2886 posts) -

Reading all this has depressed me a lot more than I thought it would.

#14 Posted by Gaff (1849 posts) -

@Whamola: One could argue that Call of Duty Elite already is Activision's effort into this territory. Pay X amount up front and receive future map packs free, basically paying for their development in advance.

Also, this concept isn't that new. Pre-ordering a title basically forces retailers to stock (buy) discs from the publisher / distributor, that cash flow goes into the publisher's coffers, funding further development and / or recouping costs.

Much like what Notch / Mojang did with Minecraft, Double Fine is bypassing publisher and retailer interference, in theory cutting out their shares of the profits and collecting 100% of the earnings. Which, again, in theory, could have an effect on the price of games. Without the publisher and retailer shares, you could probably sell a B or C tier game (let's face it, only big publishers at the moment have the financial muscle to pay for a AAA product) for much less than the standard $60 retail price, without immediately sinking to $15, which seems to be the ceiling of current console digital marketplaces (which puts all kind of restrictions concerning file size, scope, etc).

Small side-note: while the donation minimum is $15, there hasn't been a final word on the final price. They could potentially sell the game at a higher price point. More money going directly to the developer, they can stay in business longer making unique games, etc, etc.

On another point, if this actually becomes a trend, this could have all kinds of consequences for the industry. Take a company like Monkeypaw Games, Atlus USA or XSEED, that specialise in localising somewhat niche Japanese games with a dedicated fan base. Remember the whole spat about Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower? What if localization was put on Kickstarter? Or what Steven Dengler did, funding the port of Psychonauts to Mac?

If this does becomes a success? Well, maybe big publishers like Activision, EA, Ubisoft, etc, will take notice that there is a market beyond First Person Contemporary Military Shooter or Third Person Character Driven Action Game.

#15 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@Gaff: Yeah, someone said Namco Bandai should make a kickstarter to get Dark Souls on the PC. Many people were asking for it, and this would "force" these people to put their money where their mouth is. I bet it would be quite succesful.

#16 Posted by wewantsthering (1586 posts) -

@dudeglove: Everything above the $15 amount is pretty much a donation though. A donation towards a great cause though! :-)

#17 Posted by Hunkulese (2842 posts) -

@Kiro_LeMark: Your title doesn't match your content.

#18 Posted by Hunkulese (2842 posts) -

@Gaff said:

If this does becomes a success? Well, maybe big publishers like Activision, EA, Ubisoft, etc, will take notice that there is a market beyond First Person Contemporary Military Shooter or Third Person Character Driven Action Game.

Highly doubtful.

#19 Posted by Whamola (131 posts) -

@BrianP said:

@Whamola said:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: This type of would-be free-market rules ideology is neat right now when only one developer is doing it is doing it, but it has such a big potential for evil.

The first problem I can see is if this style of funding becomes popular, there's a good chance we'll start seeing big games being held hostage. What I mean by that is, a game with a huge player-base, like Call of Duty can say, "Hey, it's going to take 50 million to make the next Call of Duty, here's our kickstarter, if we don't get enough money, you don't get your game. Start donating!" The player base WILL pay (especially if they bribe the players with some minor incentive, like a free exclusive gun or title), the game will be made at NO cost to the developer, and they'll make money off the people who didn't donate, but bought the game when it was released.

Furthermore, if this becomes popular, there's no point in trying to make the best game you possibly can because there's no risk involved from a business perspective. When someone gets funding from a big game studio, there's massive pressure to make sure the game is as good as it can be because if it's a bomb and undersells and you lose the company's money, you're boned and you lose the goodwill you have and maybe even your job. If a publicly funded game is garbage, who cares? It cost you no money to make, and as is the trend with kickstarter fund raisers, you still more than likely have a lot of money left over from people who over-donated. Sure, you can say that old ridiculous Libertarian stand-by of, "Well the public will have learned their lesson and next time they WON'T vote with their dollars!" But honestly, as much as I hate to say it, gamers are often like abused spouses when it comes to bad games. I knew people who legitimately played Star Wars Galaxies to the end, all the while deluding themselves into thinking that it would become better soon.

So who knows, maybe publicly funded games will stay a rarity, but if they don't, it's foolish not to think that there's a lot that can go bad with them.

This makes no sense. Activision has the money and the manpower to make games like Call of Duty without crowd sourcing funding, and they know that they will make their money back and then some (ok, and then A LOT). They have absolutely no real motivation to move to this system, because they already have very low risk financially and the only outcome would be them looking really bad, and that is bad for business. On the other hand, Doublefine has no other way to fund this game, and would probably not want to risk money and resources for a project they are unsure would be successful financially.

To your second point, I think blowing off the fact that people would not give money a second time to someone who made a poor product because "gamers are often like abused spouses" is really strange. If people didn't like the game, they wouldn't contribute again, or if some liked it and some didn't the developer would naturally scale down the scope of the next project. People buy things they like and believe to be good quality and stop buying things they don't like or are disappointed in (see the American auto industry), that is just kind of how the world works.

Speaking from a pure business standpoint, why spend money to make money when you can spend your customer's money to make money? Yeah, Activision is rolling in money and can easily produce as many Call of Duty games as they like, and they make a ton of money, but there's no real reason why they wouldn't want to make money PLUS whatever it costs to make the game. It's a terrible thing to do, but similar things have been done before. Companies exist to make money so why wouldn't they want to operate at no cost? Microsoft charges you to play games online, when they can easily afford not to, under the idea that you're helping them pay for server upkeep even though you're already paying to play the games when you buy them in the first place. Yeah, it would make them look bad, but they can just say, "well, we'll give you such-and-such downloadable item if you donate to us. You don't HAVE to, we just want to reward our supporters!" and there'd be a lot of people who wouldn't be able to see through it.

As for the second point, look at the Madden franchise. There's no real reason why they need to release a new one every single year and from what I've heard, they've been getting a little worse each year. Fans are paying, over and over and over again for something that could really just be given to them in a ten dollar DLC pack that updates team rosters, and in a new game every couple of years. People keep coming back. Look at Final Fantasy, people are STILL huge fans of that stuff when it's not very good at all anymore.

#20 Posted by Kevin_Cogneto (1168 posts) -

I think everyone is trying to manufacture a trend where none exists (yet). This is one game. One game is not a trend. And Double Fine isn't exactly your typical studio to begin with. The only reason they can pull this off at all is because of the 20+ years of goodwill that they've earned from their fans. Very, very few studios have built up the same level of trust that these guys have. Certainly not Activision or EA... If one of them pulled this sort of thing, the backlash would be enormous, and they know it.

#21 Posted by Silvergun (297 posts) -

Another thing I haven't really heard discussed with all of this is using Kickstarter as a springboard to prove to potential investors that you have a (potentially) marketable product. I know Double Fine has straight up said that one of the reasons they want to do this is to avoid publisher BS, but alternatively, what would a publisher say now if they went to them and said 'Hey, remember how you said adventure games won't sell? Well we just raised over a million dollars in 24 hours...'.

I can't help but be optimistic about what Double Fine has done, it has the potential to make waves in the industry like Steam did, and really empower smaller studios.

#22 Posted by BionicRadd (617 posts) -

@TheHBK said:

@jozzy said:

@dudeglove said:

It's not a donation, morons. Some of you are viewing this as a charity fundraiser, when it's not. It's a business proposal.

Not really necessary to call people morons. I can see why he called it that, a donation is typically for charity but it doesn't have to be. It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns. Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free, but if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

Exactly. And Schafer is not exactly known for staying on budget lately. Or delivering on time... There is a reason publishers exist with some power over the developer. It gets things done. See the Diablo III development for a little view of what happens when a developer doesn't have to answer to anyone. Yes they do have a publisher but because Activision is giving them free reign on Diablo III, you get delay after delay and restart of the project.

It's acceptable to Activision that Diablo III got delayed because it is Blizzard. Blizzard has more than proven to everyone that if you let them release a game when it is done, it will be brilliant and it will sell truck loads. Regardless of how mad people want to get about how long it takes Blizzard to deliver, the way they do it is the correct way to make games. How Bethesda has managed to build up the devotion they have while delivering broken game after broken game is beyond me. Also, concerning Schafer, much like Blizzard, Double Fine's games are almost always extremely polished once you get them in your hands. Other good examples of this way of doing things are Rift and SWTOR, both of which shipped with a very high level of polish that resulted in two successful MMOs.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with delaying an unfinished, broken game. There is a lot wrong with charging people 60 bucks to be beta testers. From my perspective, publishers don't get things done. They get in the way and rush things out.

It makes me sad that people have taken this Double Fine Kickstarter thing and spun it into something negative. Haters gonna hate, I suppose.

#23 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

@BionicRadd said:

@TheHBK said:

@jozzy said:

@dudeglove said:

It's not a donation, morons. Some of you are viewing this as a charity fundraiser, when it's not. It's a business proposal.

Not really necessary to call people morons. I can see why he called it that, a donation is typically for charity but it doesn't have to be. It is essentially a gift without any legally binding returns. Yes, they promise to make a game and give it to you for free, but if it all blows up you are entitled to nothing.

Exactly. And Schafer is not exactly known for staying on budget lately. Or delivering on time... There is a reason publishers exist with some power over the developer. It gets things done. See the Diablo III development for a little view of what happens when a developer doesn't have to answer to anyone. Yes they do have a publisher but because Activision is giving them free reign on Diablo III, you get delay after delay and restart of the project.

It's acceptable to Activision that Diablo III got delayed because it is Blizzard. Blizzard has more than proven to everyone that if you let them release a game when it is done, it will be brilliant and it will sell truck loads. Regardless of how mad people want to get about how long it takes Blizzard to deliver, the way they do it is the correct way to make games. How Bethesda has managed to build up the devotion they have while delivering broken game after broken game is beyond me. Also, concerning Schafer, much like Blizzard, Double Fine's games are almost always extremely polished once you get them in your hands. Other good examples of this way of doing things are Rift and SWTOR, both of which shipped with a very high level of polish that resulted in two successful MMOs.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with delaying an unfinished, broken game. There is a lot wrong with charging people 60 bucks to be beta testers. From my perspective, publishers don't get things done. They get in the way and rush things out.

It makes me sad that people have taken this Double Fine Kickstarter thing and spun it into something negative. Haters gonna hate, I suppose.

Just to be clear since I am also quoted here. I am not trying to spin this into something negative, I was just trying to explain why the OP called it a donation. I think Double Fine will try their hardest to make a great adventure game.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.