Find out how to kick start your games industry career

Get Your Free Ticket Today

Jaffe, Avellone ponder crowd-sourced funding

Developers react to success of Double Fine Kickstarter campaign

Twisted Metal developer David Jaffe and Obsidian Entertainment's Chris Avellone are both considering emulating Double Fine's successful Kickstarter campaign.

The Double Fine campaign was launched by company founder Tim Schafer in an effort to crowd-source $400,000 in funding for a point-and-click adventure game.

At the time of writing, the total raised is nearly $1.7 million, with 29 days left until the campaign closes.

"I think the real question, whether in the next month, if [Double Fine's campaign] hits $2 million or $8 million, does that signal a new way of funding games?" Jaffe said to Gamasutra.

"Or is this kind of a one-off thing, because it was led by [Double Fine head] Tim Schafer? Is this actually moving the needle? That, we don't know."

Jaffe will leave his studio Eat Sleep Play when Twisted Metal ships later this month, and though he insists that his new company is at least 6 months from being fully operational, he would consider crowd-sourced funding.

"Now, with what's happened with Tim's Kickstarter, sure, I would consider [crowdfunding]. There's kind of the fear that this would suddenly become, you know, a dick-measuring contest. Schafer comes out and raises a million, and Jaffe only raises $200,000."

"But joking aside... I think I would be really nervous because suddenly now it's not just a publisher's money. Suddenly you have all these peoples' money, and you don't want to let them down."

Avellone was also full of praise for Schafer's initiative, posting a string of tweets that calling Double Fine's achievement "nuts" and "amazing."

"Whole new business model, here we come!" he wrote. "I admit, I've got Kickstarter fever now. I feel like a bunch of doors suddenly appeared in game development."

Obsidian subsequently started a thread on its forums asking the community to suggest project ideas that they would contribute money towards.

"All of Double Fine's success from Kickstarter has been inspiring," the post reads. "The idea of player-supported funding is... well, it's proof certain genres aren't dead and sequels may have more legs than they seem. And the idea of not having to argue that with a publisher is appealing."

Find out how to kick start your games industry career

Get Your Free Ticket Today

More stories

Obsidian CEO on acquisitions: "Find a partner who's going to be all-in"

Feargus Urquhart offers advice on successful mergers and acquisitions, and why Obsidian joined Microsoft

By Aaron Lee

Grounded: A big experimental adventure made by Obsidian's tiniest team

Game director Adam Brennecke talks about his 16 years at the studio, and how a history of RPG development led to a backyard survival game

By Rebekah Valentine

Latest comments (15)

Jonathan McEnroe Freelance 2D artist 9 years ago
I was impressed at first when Double Fine raised the funds they needed through Kickstarter in a short space of time, but then I thought if this becomes a trend for established developers to raise finance for their projects then the whole point of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo kinda goes out the window.

I personally see it more as a funding platform for smaller developers and people starting out in business. It must be deflating for a lot of other campaigners that are working around the clock to raise much smaller amounts of money on there to see an establisher company like Double Fine reach those kinds of numbers in only 48hours.

I'm probably alone in this but I'd hate to see smaller developers/start ups being ignored on Kickstarter/IndieGoGo for projects like this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jonathan McEnroe on 13th February 2012 9:45am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
The thing is, not all will be as successful as Double fine

Namely due to

1/ Established name/credibility
2/ Quirky/Establsihed art direction
3/ Quirky/unique gameplay aesthetics
4/ Ability to target a lack in a genre
5/ All of the above - to lend credibility of a project achieving completion

When was the last time you enjoyed a good of point and click romp of Day of the Tentacle or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis or frustration of the puzzles in Broken Sword. Nowadays, there is no challenge. Just a short 7-8 hours of FPS romping (called action)

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
"But joking aside... I think I would be really nervous because suddenly now it's not just a publisher's money. Suddenly you have all these peoples' money, and you don't want to let them down."

I'm not sure which makes more pressure, having several thousands of people's small contributions or $1.7 million of one person's (or company's) money. You may be letting more people down, but to a much smaller degree.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (15)
Stitch Jones News Editor 9 years ago
Jaffe pretty much has no credibility in the industry anymore. This latest departure is going to hurt Twisted Metal sales, and the game isn't even out yet.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Forslund CEO/Producer, Trino Creative9 years ago
@Jonathan - no you are not alone. I agree 100% with you. If this continues the small devs who may need Kickstarter the most will be squeezed out.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dan Silvers Resident Game Designer/CEO, Lantana Games9 years ago
As someone who's run a successful Kickstarter, I can say that it's great that there's the potential to get millions from a single campaign. However, as has been mentioned, having an established name definitely helps, and I can't help but wonder how this will affect indie projects on the site. Why give your hard earned money to an unknown startup when you can give it to your favorite designers of all time on the same site?

We'll have to wait and see how the next few big-name projects do compared to next few truly indie projects. It may be that it makes no difference at all, and people who donate on Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and 8-Bit Funding really just want to fund as many different projects as possible. My fear is that a lot of potentially great projects could end up left in the dust, thus killing the very reason for these sites' existence, but we'll see.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Makes me wonder when will Valve join the party - they are already one of the leading Indie supporting platform, already have pre-paid system in place and few million daily active users...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jeffrey Ates Critic/Writer/Enthusiast 9 years ago
@ Stitch Jones
Your kidding right? Jaffe has the respect of me and many others for being straight forward, politically incorrect and amazing at what he does. The latest Twisted Metal is mainly being bought by the old school players (Mostly males considering gamers back then were predominately male) as well as many new people so him saying a funny retarded dude-like comment doesn't hurt is cred, it just hurts the feelings of those who allow themselves to be offended when the guy was joking. Now on topic, I dont feel that many kickstarter indies will be affected by this since while I supported Tim's endeavor, I still look towards indie games for creativity and pure awesome that the big boys cant deliver (Natural Selection 2, Overgrowth, Ravaged, Oilrush, Binding of Issac, SPAZ and many others) so no, I just think money will shift from publishers to developers which is better.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Ates on 13th February 2012 6:39pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 9 years ago
Biggest question is, if they where going for the $400K mark, and are now at $1.7 mil, why haven't they closed the fundraising? what will they use the extra money for, you can't tell me they actually need all the money to make the game (even if they want to localize the game) if they were going for $400K (which already would have had everything)..

Kickstarter is ofcourse also a great way to scam people out of their money..
what's to say they actually finish the game?
and that's what scares me the most about initiatives like Kickstarter.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Ryan Cordova Game Developer 9 years ago don't know how Kickstarter works, do you Andrew?

Seriously, all your "fears" would be answered by simply browsing the terms of service as well as the Double Fine donation page. They keep the money and use it to make the game and documentary better, and what's to say they actually finish the game?

The fact that if they don't, they've effectively defaulted on a $1.7 million dollar loan, that's what.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Trowe President & CEO, Replay Games9 years ago
Seriously, people, RTFM before you start getting up on your mini-soap boxes. This is not a platform for your ignorance.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tim Hull Co-Founder, Stuntpigs Ltd.9 years ago
Every new funding stream is good news for developers.

Every new funding stream that puts gamers and developers closer together is great for gamers and developers.

The more people realise that there is a way to support and be supported in a more democratised way, the more opportunities for all.

The risk is now spread very thinly indeed, which makes it a much more plausible method for future funding.

Even bigger investors will be attracted to this model, because they may see it as a means to match funding, and spreading the risk, so long as they can get what they want back out of it. Unless I'm mistaken about the kickstarter terms, there is no reason why a bigger stake can't be rewarded with some share of the future earnings.

And if kickstarter does not satisfy all possibilities of gaining such funding, there is no reason why someone couldn't create a site that does. You could pull in funding from all classes $10 to $10m each with it's own matching reward.

The conundrum for me is, how much of the concept do you leak to help raise the funds ?

Tim Schafer didn't really have to give away very much at all. Hey it's just another wacky adventure game by yours truly. A startup however might have to tell all to wow people with their cool idea only to be beaten to the punch by a wealthier competitor.

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Marcus Feital Front End Developer 9 years ago
@Bartosz Ptaszynski
I ask the same question. Not only Valve, but will other publishers tap on that business model, making it available for devs everywhere, maybe with a 50/50 split on pledges from the public and the publisher, like "if you pledge half, we will cover the other half" sort of thing to give it a nice coat? Interesting times....
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
@Stitch: I agree with you. Tim Schafer also caters to a different audience - not the one percent of ultra hardcore players but those that don't find themselves in the current games market, dominated by games for the vocal hardcore majority that is getting progressively more exclusive. See this article and the very telling comments:

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roland Austinat on 13th February 2012 10:34pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Roberto Bruno Curious Person 9 years ago
@Jonathan McEnroe: To me, Kickstarter being just for "indie" is just a misleaded perception.
Kickstarter (and with it other similar initiatives about crowd sourcing) is about any sort of project that needs to be proven interesting enough to have financial backers, and that's pretty much it.

I like many indie projects for what they attempt, not just for the sake of being indie-friendly, so I have literally no problem supporting anyone who submits to the public attention something I think deserves funds.

Also, that could heavily backfire in a site like this, frequented by many operators in the industry, but I'm all for developer's freedom from publishers. I would be only happy to see even bigger studios cutting out the middleman as much as they can.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.