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Games shouldn't be judged on sales - Inafune

Mighty No. 9 creator talks about the impact of crowdfunding on the industry and the way he thinks about games

Last year, Keiji Inafune's Kickstarter for a Mega Man-inspired 2D platformer attracted $3.8 million in funding. Today, Inafune came to the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas to discuss the experience and talk about what the crowdfunding revolution means for the future of the gaming industry.

Speaking through an interpreter, Inafune said his experience with Mighty No. 9 changed the way he thinks about making games. The most important part of creating Mighty No. 9 for Inafune is being able to create the game in a way similar to how he made titles when he first broke into the industry 20 years ago. Back then, Inafune didn't think about whether his games would sell. He didn't really care about that. He only had to think about making the game fun.

But somewhere over the course of his career, Inafune said he had started to change without realizing it, and began worrying more about how his games would sell. Even though it's critical for a game to turn a profit for creators to be able to continue making them, Inafune said developers shouldn't think of having a lot of sales as inherently good and failing to sell as inherently bad.

With Mighty No. 9, Inafune said he hasn't finished the game, much less sold any copies. But it's already been funded, so Inafune doesn't need it to sell in order for it to be considered a success, or "to achieve justice" in the game industry. The project is possible only because the backers of it feel that it's the kind of game they would like to play, and so gambled on the development of it with the Kickstarter. As a result, Inafune thinks they understand that it won't be judged purely on sales.

As a result, Inafune said the campaign has allowed him to revisit his early days in the industry, without having to worry about sales or "bureaucracy in the system," and instead focus solely on what he thinks will make the game more fun. He believes this is actually the future of the industry, a callback to the days when he first broke in, when Inafune said many creators were a little bit crazy, exploring wild ideas with no concern for their viability in the market.

The Kickstarter process is a new one for Inafune, as it has allowed him to talk about the game much earlier in development than with his previous publisher-funded work. He thinks it helps people understand what the game is a lot better to see it come together in this way. That also lets the fans collaborate with creators to some extent, which Inafune said has created "a new golden age of gaming."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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