If you hadn’t heard, Double Fine Productions is going to be making a new point-and-click adventure game with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert headlining the team, funded entirely through a Kickstarter project which went live last night. It’s big news today: this is the fastest-funded Kickstarter project ever, and already the one with the most backers less than 24 hours since it went up. It even prompted the U.K. Interactive Entertainment trade group to start work on a report to persuade lawmakers in the U.K. to make adjustments to legally support this type of funding mechanism for game developers.
While this is definitely cool, and U.K. laws around such things probably do need revision (I don’t know anything about that), I don’t think anyone should start to think this is anywhere close to “the new normal.” There are a few factors contributing to the right-place-right-time nature of this event, which won’t be easily duplicated:
- This Kickstarter project launched right in the middle of news-attention on Schafer and Double Fine already. On Tuesday Rock, Paper, Shotgun tweeted their article reporting that Tim Schafer wanted to do Psychonauts 2 but hadn’t been able to get a publisher to bite. Schafer was quoted as saying to Digital Spy in an interview, “I’d have to convince someone to just give me a few million dollars. That’s all.” Markus Persson, aka notch, creator of MineCraft, responded to the tweet: “How many millions exactly?” followed by “Let’s make Psychonauts 2 happen.” and confirmation that he was serious. This was widely reported on gaming news sites, and Schafer and Persson began talking about it via email. (Aside: based on the obvious amount of effort that went into putting together this Kickstarter launch, there is no way it was done in response to these events. The timing is just a happy coincidence.)
- New point-and-click adventure games have been largely missing from gaming for years. Not only is there very little competition, but some fans of the genre may be so starved for it that they’re willing to spend a lot to make this happen. After this, though, that won’t be the case so much anymore.
- Double Fine is an established development studio that has proven it is able to produce quality games. I doubt many Kickstarter aspirants already have such an established, rabid fan-base.
As such, I don’t think everyone should rush to put their own projects on Kickstarter just because of this. It seems likely, though, that there will be somewhat of a rush to do just that, and possible that many will be disappointed with the results. We may see other smallish but still established companies trying it out, and for some it may turn out to be superior to what they were doing for funding before. Just don’t necessarily expect that to be you.
Anyway, this is a cool story. Congrats to Double Fine and 2 Player Productions, and hopefully Psychonauts 2 will be made before too long (with less collecting and better-tuned difficulty), because I really like the first one.