Tim Schafer, please take my money

On Saturday, February 25, 2012 2 comments

Tim Schafer is a cool guy. He’s created a handful of absolutely wonderful video games, every one of them reeking of non-conventional fun. Yet for some reason, publishers don’t want to fund his games. Psychonauts almost didn’t get made because Microsoft pulled their financial support.

This game was amazing. No one will fund a sequel.
Why? Because publishers are in the industry to make money. The same goes for film producers, record companies and publishing houses. They aren’t gonna pony-up money if they don’t think a product will sell. As I discussed in a previous post, this is only logical. They want to make money, so they only invest in projects they think will sell.

What happens when publishers are wrong, though? Tim Schafer is best known for his witty adventure games. You know, the kind where you point-and-click? Unfortunately, pointing and clicking has fallen out of favor with mainstream gamers. The majority of people would rather waggle with a stick than click with a mouse.

Ironically, most Wii games amount to pointing the remote and  clicking  a button.
So where does this leave Tim Schafer and adventure fans? Up the creek without a paddle. Without any publishers willing to invest in a low-return genre, there is no way to get the required funding. At least, that’s what most people thought. Fortunately, Mr. Schafer’s brain does not operate like the average Joe’s. He decided he wasn’t going to let “the man” get him down. He decided he wasn’t going to give up on a genre he loved. He decided he was going to get funding from fans.

It’s called crowd-sourcing, and it could revolutionize the media industry. Using a website called Kickstarter, Tim Schafer’s company, Double Fine, set up a project where fans could donate money to fund the production of a new adventure game. If you donate as little as $15, you receive the game once it is finished. That means you can essentially preorder the game, and your money goes directly to funding its production.

What’s more impressive than the idea is how highly successful it’s been. Within eight hours, Double Fine reached their funding goal of $400,000. As of this writing, they have amassed over $2 million. While that’s a widdle-biddle budget for a game like Halo or Final Fantasy, it’s enough for an adventure game. Also, by cutting out the middle-man, Double Fine doesn’t have to share their profits with a production company, so they get a higher return on their product.

Every time you donate to Double Fine, the game becomes 20% cooler


Why is this so absolutely amazing? Because it means that money-grubbing corporations no longer control what gets made. People can decide for themselves what they feel is worth investing in. Crazy, oddball ideas that don’t appeal to the masses might still appeal to, say, 100,000 people. And those people can help fund the project.

Of course, big budget games aren’t going anywhere. The average person is too timid to invest in something until they’ve heard a review from critic. However, for people who are sick of mainstream media and willing to try something new, crowd-sourcing is the ultimate boon. It means YOU get to decide what you want, instead of critics and publishing houses deciding for you. So what are you waiting for? Go to Kickstarter, find something interesting, and invest!

2 comments:

  1. Why awesome post Liana! I think you are so right - this sort of thing is happening all over different industries. For film it would take a pretty large group of people though if we want a bunch more 300 million-dollar Avatar movies - but honestly I don't think everyone wants that as much as Hollywood thinks they do. Kas and I got to go see the Academy Award nominated Short films this week at the National Archives. Talk about awesome films made with basically no money!! I think we will see more and more of that as technology and kickstarter get bigger and people learn about it.

    Thanks for the post.

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  2. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

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