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Schafer "scared" for publishers

Schafer "scared" for publishers

Fri 22 Jun 2012 8:01am GMT / 4:01am EDT / 1:01am PDT
Publishing

Double Fine head predicts dev migration to crowd funding

Crowd-funding success story Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert of Double Fine have explained what they think Double Fine's recent experience with Kickstarter mean for the big publishers.

"I'm a little scared, well, for them, because I see a lot of resistance to it. 'Well, that's someone else's business - we don't want to be in a race to zero,' or something like that," Schafer told Gamefront.

"I think they're going to see a lot of migration from developers and fans to more open environments like that, for sure."

Double Fine's pitch for an adventure game raised $3,335,265 from 87,138 backers, and inspired a number of other game developers to skip the publishing pitch and look for funding from the community instead.

"I think they (publishers) are going have to (change the way they interact with players) because the world is changing and small developers are getting these personal relationships with their fans and people that play the games, and I think the really big publishers need to embrace that or they're really gonna miss this whole kind of revolution that's happening right now," added Gilbert.

20 Comments

Kickstarter is a nice alternative model for indies But I bet only 1 out of 10 (arbitrary) may find some modest success and probably 1/40 better success like double fine

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 734 1.4
I think anyone making predictions this early is taking a wild stab in the dark. Double Fine's success came from novelty value and hype. Do it on a regular basis and I'm not sure they'll get enough to make it sustainable. I hope it is sustainable, as I'd love to see this work, but it has to prove itself first, and see how it fares when you inevitably see a few projects you back turn out disappointing, or even fail to release at all.

What I think could help is if a kickstarter platform was built into Steam or even the console dashboards, to publicise projects and make the games automatically download once they're released without any further action by the backer. Effectively it'd just be a very long term pre-order.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 429 0.6
@ Dr Wong:

True, but what's the failure rate of the "pitch" model? I can't imagine that pitching to publishers is much of a better prospect... "Self/crowd" funding at least gives you more control over the project - for good and bad.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
You still need marketing. And that is what publishers do.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

734 429 0.6
@Bruce:

If you are able to get your crowd-funding and marketing done in one go then you've already got your game paid for. If that funding allows for placement on services like Steam (or whatever) then you'll probably be able to negotiate marketing on their services - and since the game is paid for (in theory) by the process of crowd funding then every sale beyond that is 'pure' profit.

I guess, in summary: The level of marketing you need for the average title on a crowd-funding website is much smaller than you need for a larger project via a publisher or even an equivalently small project via a publisher because you already have the game paid for before you start. If you fail to fund the game then you don't need to market it. If you fund the game then you already marketed it enough to pay for its development and upon its completion you will have chance to market a finished product with no risk associated with it. (All IMO of course :))

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 22nd June 2012 11:13am

Posted:2 years ago

#5
Just recently Kickstarter shared insight into how successful Crowdfunding for games is. And the numbers were not that pretty. It can be read here: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/172837/Kickstarter_success_rate_for_games_even_lower_than_initially_reported.php

So I don't know really, but it seems like Mr. Schafer is a bit quick to predict things here. Crowdfunding is nice and a sweet alternative for some games, but do publishers need to be scared of it? I doubt it.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,283 0.9
"I think they (publishers) are going have to (change the way they interact with players) because the world is changing and small developers are getting these personal relationships with their fans and people that play the games, and I think the really big publishers need to embrace that or they're really gonna miss this whole kind of revolution that's happening right now,"
This, I think, is an interesting quote to read alongside the story-and-comments about EA's share price. EA can market their games all they want, but when you have a relationship with your consumers that is more personal - more social - than the standard business relationship, then you don't have to work so hard to sell your product.

Everyone says "Oh, it couldn't have worked without Schafer and Double Fine," without realising what they're saying. Why couldn't it have worked without Schafer? Because he's a gamer, a coder, a funny guy. He's a character, and that means whatever he's interested in - and working on - is interesting to other people. The same goes (to a lesser extent) for Neal Stephenson. The same goes for Gabe Newell.

That, to me, is more interesting than the live-or-die nature of how many Kickstarter projects succeed.

(Multiple edits for spelling mistakes. I really need to proofread more. :) )

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 22nd June 2012 5:01pm

Posted:2 years ago

#7
Bruce, not all publishers do marketing for small downloadable games. You'd think that it's worth their while to promote a game that have already invested in, like, even let's say, make a website for it, but that is often not the case.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Hugo Dubs
Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
If 1/10 get modest success, and 1/40 is successful on kickstarter, what is the ratio for people trying to reach publisher and make they game financed? I think we're on the same track here. The fact is that kickstarter business model is customer driven, and this is the great value.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

554 271 0.5
The JOBS Act has limited crowdfunding raises to $3 million a year.

You can't make a huge game on a tiny fund like that.

To me, the Holy Grail of game development is when you can put a huge budget under the creative control of a small team. Then you can have the gaming equivalent of things like The Godfather, Aliens and so on (and I'm not referring to the franchises themselves, but the fact that in film they could make such high quality products with such large budgets and still yield creative control to a small team).

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

554 271 0.5
@Nikolas:

That success rate was 43%.

Um... That is a HUGE success rate.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
Kickstarter success rate is 33%. That means it works out great for people who have a great pitch and probably have recognizable talent and perhaps even IP, but it's not the end all for mid-level projects. It is turning into a nice alternative to publishers, though.

Posted:2 years ago

#12
@Tim

It was believed to be 43%. It was now corrected to only be 33%. That is NOT a good ratio. Especially if you consider the way Kickstarter and similar platforms work.

Kickstarter and generally crowdfunding is good for people like Tim Schafer who have a recognizable name, something that draws the public eye. What about that new project where you have a host of talented people no one had heard about yet? Do you think they will get the same success?

And that is not to mention that even with a celebrated success like the 3 Million raised there, do you think you could produce a AAA title for that money?

Kickstarter is a great thing. I am not denying that. But it's not going to threaten publishers as it is IMHO.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

779 584 0.7
True, that is why kickstarter can only work on project with a strong fanbase (whatever Double Fine does) or in projects that no publisher would accept or in which the publisher would provably demand changes (Carmageddon Reincarnation). It is still an alternative that has already proved to work.

My point of view there...

Posted:2 years ago

#14
Yes, it is an alternative for a certain type of project. No doubt about that, and I hope it gets used and has more success in the future. It is great for smaller studios and smaller projects.

However the sentiment that publishers need to be worried about it seems a bit misplaced.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Adrian Herber

69 23 0.3
Nikolas:
A cursory examination of the 67% that failed shows that a great deal of these were laughably unprofessional and unrealistic projects. So, if we could somehow eliminate all projects that never had a hope, we would probably see a much higher success rate - I'm guessing more like 70% success amongst 'real' projects.

I do agree with you though that it's a bit early to say that publishers need to be worried - there is still the mainstream market out there who only want to buy finished games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adrian Herber on 25th June 2012 1:11pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16
Adrian:
That's all I am saying. Kickstarter is a great place for projects of small to medium scope. I am sure we could get more projects to the Million mark if they advertised properly and were backed by good developers.

I doubt we will see a crowd-funded Skyrim anytime soon though. ;)

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

554 271 0.5
Nikolas: Publishers give funding to something like less than 1% of games pitched to them.

Give your head a shake. Even a 33% success rate is huge.

Posted:2 years ago

#18
Tim:
Why are you not understanding what I am saying?

A 33% success rate, considering what kind of success there is, is no reason for publishers to worry.

I am not saying Kickstarter is failing for game projects. I am not saying it isn't an excellent alternative for certain projects. All I am saying is that it is not a concern for publishers as Mr. Schafer seems to believe.

I am sorry if I didn't make that clear enough in my previous posts.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Sergio Rosa
"Somewhat-Creative Director"

62 35 0.6
It's easy to predict a "mass exodus" to Kickstarter when you're the kind of developer with a reputation to raise $3M, and those $3M seem to make it very easy to ignore that the majority of projects on Kickstarter don't get funded, even when they pledge for just a few thousands, and not millions.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

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