Kickstarter has been a wonderful tool to get funding for games that might otherwise never have existed. But it’s not without its issues. While Kickstarter has produced some fantastic games, the machine around the crowdfunding platform has led to some unrealistic and unhealthy methods to achieve funding success.
The former COO of Double Fine, Justin Bailey (no relation) might just have a solution in the form of FIG, a crowdfunding service designed exclusively for video games. Fig, in contrast to sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, will run only a couple funding drives at a time, curated to highlight unique and interesting projects.
The first game on fig is Outer Wilds, an IGF award-winning exploration game in which you’re caught in a time loop. Fig will feature two games at a time, staggered so as to maximize interest in each campaign over time. Those projects will be chosen by a panel including Double Fine’s Tim Schaefer, Obsidian’s Feargus Urquhart, and inXile’s Brian Fargo, each of whom have successfully brought games to market under both Kickstarter and traditional funding methods. By carefully curating the games, Fig can hopefully avoid the exploitative nostalgia that has dominated recent Kickstarters. Don’t get me wrong, I love Banjo and Symphony of the Night too, but Fig’s place to promote more unique and original games is very exciting.
In addition to Kickstarter-style rewards in exchange for donations, Fig will also facilitate more traditional investments from accredited investors. This solves multiple problems. First, it allows transparency in how much of the game’s funding is from crowdsourcing versus investment. You may remember the confusion surrounding Shenmue’s Kickstarter, and how much of that game would be funded by Sony. Using crowdfunding to show concrete market interest to larger investors is pretty common on Kickstarter, and some projects are more up-front about this than others. Fig will allow backers to see exactly where the development money is coming from. This also allows developers to be much more realistic about their funding goals. Many Kickstarter projects have set their initial funding goal low–often impossibly low for the game being promised–with the expectation that they can more effectively drive funding through stretch goals.
Fig’s gaming focus, funding transparency, and careful curation will set it apart from other crowdfunding sources, and hopefully help to get more great, unique games into the hands of players.