A couple of weeks ago I told you how Larian Studios – the team behind Divinity: Original Sin, were hesitant to use Kickstarter again. Their reasoning was that they felt that they had found their success, and it would be wrong to fish in the same pool as other budding developers who could use their own much-needed funding. They may have changed their minds.
Before any conclusion jumping takes place, it’s not because the studio are in trouble or because they see it as an easy way to finance their next game. Rather, it’s thanks to something known as the ‘halo effect’ (no, not Master Chief). Swen Vincke, the founder and CEO of Larian Studios shared his thoughts over on his blog (via PC Gamer):
I said that Kickstarter might not be the right route for our future projects. I argued that it’s a limited pool and that it would be wrong for us to fish in it if our games are earning sufficient money for us to invest in our future projects.
I immediately received a few strong reactions, both publicly but also privately about how I got it all wrong, and that in fact I should steer Larian back to Kickstarter. The reasoning is that successful crowdfunding projects send more people to the crowdfunding scene and that benefits the smaller projects. This is referred to as the “halo effect” and one particular bright person compared it to “a restaurant sitting alone or on a block with many others. They all do better with more traffic”.
It’s an interesting concept, and I can understand it to a certain extent. The only problem is that some Kickstarter projects tend to fall off the map completely, discouraging backers to get involved in any other titles. The opposite could happen too. Backers of successful games may be encouraged to contribute to other projects.
Vincke goes on to talk about a recent report which suggests that Kickstarter is in decline. This may not be the case though.
According to the article quoting the Ico report, half of the money in 2013 was brought in by the big names and the question is raised whether it’s really a case of waning popularity or just a gap in the schedule because all those big names are now busy delivering on their promises. And if the latter is the case, the question remains if this indeed negatively affects the smaller projects because less people are attracted to the crowd funding platforms.
I do tend to think that it was just a matter of the gap in the schedule. The Internet is a strange and sometimes wonderful place. Let’s not forget that a potato salad Kickstarter raised $55 492 when it had a measly $10 goal. There are clearly people out there with some money to burn, so I don’t think the smaller developers should be worried – at least not if they plan on making a proper game and meeting their promises.
Vincke has definitely seen Kickstarter in a new light, he has changed his mind:
So, if it indeed is the case that a return to crowd funding by past success stories helps boost the scene then I’m all pro. Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds.
Regardless of what path Larian Studios takes, I think we can expect big things from them in future. I’m more and more inclined to check out Divinity: Original Sin each day. I’ve honestly heard nothing but praise for the game.
Last Updated: October 6, 2014