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Former Double Fine COO launches new funding platform

Fig designed to offer best crowdfunding experience for developers, gamers and investors

In 2012 Double Fine became the trailblazer for crowdfunding on Kickstarter, raising $3.3 million for point and click adventure Broken Age and learnt a few things about the new financial frontier along the way. So it seems only fitting that a new platform for game funding, Fig, is being headed up by Justin Bailey, former Double Fine COO.

Fig is built from its very foundations to offer maximum value to developers, pledgers and investors, rather than relying on an architecture built to serve cat cafes, smart watches and YouTube channels equally. When Bailey sat down with GamesIndustry.biz last week in San Francisco he proved his point by opening up Kickstarter and navigating his way to the games section. Right away he shows me that video games are actually just a sub-section of the games category, which also includes card games and puzzles. In that sub-section there are currently 202 live games, the majority of which won't come anywhere close to their funding goal.

Bailey and his team don't think that's good enough, and wanted to offer a solution that could combine the benefits of gamer pledges, investor interest and expert curation. There are nice touches like a timeline that show which development stage the game is at, an easy way to pick and choose pledge rewards that's simple for developers and pledgers and, promises Bailey, because the site will be focused on games developers can customise their campaign page more easily.

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"There's a chance now to get investment involved," explains Bailey.

"We've enjoyed this period of getting closer to our community, and the community putting up huge amounts of money. It seems a natural extension that investment would be something that people would expect and I think it's something that will help make this ecosystem more stable."

Right now only accredited investors can use the investment route (gamer pledges will work just like any other crowdfunding platform) but the plan eventually is for anyone to be able to offer anyone the chance to invest in the future. Bailey's vision is for gamers to "have the opportunity to participate in the financial success of the games they help make possible.

"We're excited about this opportunity because, as indie developers, creative control and IP ownership are critical"

Fig is backed by Spark Capital and Tim Schafer, Feargus Urquhart and Brian Fargo make up the platform's impressively experienced advisory board. Fig also plans to help support developers through the life cycle of the product, not just until the funding campaign ends.

The first game to make it through the advisory board and onto the site is Outer Wilds, an IGF winner with a distinctive look. The title will be developed by Mobius Digital, the studio headed up by Masi Oka. (Yes, that guy from Heroes.) Mobius Digital is asking for $125,000 to finish the game.

"We're excited about this opportunity because, as indie developers, creative control and IP ownership are critical," said Oka.

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"Having a crowdfunding platform specifically targeted to games also allows us to reach and focus our marketing to the gaming community."

Urquhart, Fargo, and Schafer have also pledged to use Fig to fund future titles from their studios Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Double Fine Productions.

"We're proud to be creating an ecosystem that better supports developers and their fans"

"Feargus, Tim and I have all experienced the many challenges of bringing our games to market and nurturing great talent along the way," added Fargo.

"We're proud to be creating an ecosystem that better supports developers and their fans in the quest to bring their passion projects to life-and we believe Fig will become the best option to get games funded in the future."

Fig is already in conversation with a number of developers about upcoming campaigns but it's also interested to hear new pitches. You can send those to pitches@fig.co.

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Latest comments (7)

Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix2 years ago
Interesting stuff - but I couldn't see where the first $34,000 came from. At the time of looking, there are 30 backers on the various tiers pledging around $1600... but the running total lists $35,745 of the $125,000 goal.

Does the developer put down a certain amount at the campaign start, that's not accounted for in backer pledges? It's always great to get a running start on a campaign and make the trajectory look good, but I'd love to understand how this works. I've obviously missed something.

Also can't find anything on fees for developers - would assume standard 5% of funds received as long as the initial target is hit. Anybody know for sure? Ah yes - found it here: https://help.fig.co/hc/en-us/articles/207749777-Does-Fig-charge-a-fee-

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Phil Elliott on 18th August 2015 3:56pm

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They co-mingle investment dollars and dollars from the unwashed masses of crowdfunders (the lead investor and any others are in for $34k). Which is dubious imho.

Feels are 5% of funds raised (unclear if this applies to funders AND investors, or just funders) and 5% of project profits in perpetuity.
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James Redner president, The Redner Group2 years ago
The initial amount came from investors. Fig allows for investment as well as traditional crowdfunding rewards. The backing numbers are going to be a little different that what we are used to seeing with other funding platforms. Investment allows for bigger jumps in funding.
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Show all comments (7)
Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix2 years ago
Aha - okay, thanks. (edit: I just saw that there's a section on the front page of the site, ie not the campaign page, that says "Investors have already committed $34,000 to this campaign")

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Phil Elliott on 18th August 2015 10:33pm

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John Cook Senior Partner, Bad Management2 years ago
I have to say I am not a fan of equity crowd-funding.
Harnessing the enthusiasm of backers - who risk small amounts of cash in return for seeming something get made which otherwise would not - is a one thing.
Promising that they might make $$$ out of a project if they invest, what might be for them, big $$$ - is another.
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Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer Larian Studios 2 years ago
Smart way of making more money, but didn't they launch this site way too late. This could've been double fine's ticket out of the industry. Sitting by judging if games should be made, taking a percentage or two? Hell who wouldn't want to be so privileged, investing a bit of their own cash in upcoming talents, getting bigger bucks back. If you know the guys at Double Fine you could even get some crazy deals baby! But where is that snake in the tall grass I'm looking for? Which ever way you want to spin it, if they fix that interface and make updating easier they might just have a hit :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Farhang Namdar on 18th August 2015 8:40pm

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It's been interesting to watch the site evolve over the course of the first day. The site now states that investors have put in $34k (good). The 3 stage commit on the investor screen is gone, with just a 1-click for a $1k investment replacing it (bad).

Another interesting datapoint, is the # of views of the campaigns video. There is a reason why KS does not just use Youtube to play campaign videos, since this then makes the number of views readily accessible. In this case, the campaign video for Outer Wild has been viewed about 3000 times since launch. Now, since videos do not currently auto play, we don't have perfect information about how many uniques actually visited the side, but we can reasonably assume that nobody will invest or back w/o viewing the video. Therefor, we can conclude that the conversion rate of this campaign is no greater than 6% (and probably far less).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jon Kimmich on 19th August 2015 12:32am

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