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Double Fine Crowdsourcing

A Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a new adventure game from Double Fine has immediately taken off, following recent indications from Minecraft creator Notch that he was willing to help fund Psychonauts 2, though the Psychonauts IP is not mentioned by name. This has already raised considerably more than its $400K target, with a single $10K spot sold out, seven out of ten $5K pledges sold, and more than a half-million dollars already in the budget. Here's a explanation:

Keeping the scale of the project this small accomplishes two things. First and foremost, Double Fine gets to make the game they want to make, promote it in whatever manner they deem appropriate, and release the finished product on their own terms. Secondly, since they’re only accountable to themselves, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what game development of this caliber looks like from the inside. Not the sanitized commercials-posing-as-interviews that marketing teams only value for their ability to boost sales, but an honest, in-depth insight into a modern art form that will both entertain and educate gamers and non-gamers alike.

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52 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 2.
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32. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 18:49 nin
 
One million dollars! Jesus Christ!

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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31. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 18:42 Parallax Abstraction
 
Creston wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:51:
Kajetan wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 13:04:
Verno wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 11:26:
I think everyone reasonable can agree the traditional publishing model is now reaching the point of absurdity when a company can somehow manage to sell a million copies of a title and not make a profit.
Just look at EA. A revenue of billions of dollars a year, no profit at all for years.

On paper. No profit at all on paper.

Trust me that that company's making plenty of money, but the wonderful IRS lets them deduct everything as an expense so ostensibly they wind up in the red and owe no taxes.

Creston

If they were actually banking profits, there stock wouldn't be going down. And the stock price is what keeps CEOs employed. Look at THQ, I highly doubt their CEO taking a paycut and their stock being threatened with delisting is just them hiding profits. If your company is actually making money and you're hiding that from investors, that's illegal.
 
Parallax Abstraction
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30. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 18:39 ASeven
 
Kosumo wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 17:19:
Total bullshit - gamers giving you as much money as you need to finish the project? Sound like Duke Nukem Forever - they had little to no publisher oversite and look where that ended up. Also L.A. Noire - I'd say (for what I've read) that that game would have failed huge if not for Rockstar input.

While I see this a good for some, it's far from the be all and end all.

It will also be abused by some devs.

(I liken this to when a airport charges you for a departure tax to fund airport up grades - any other business would have to weight up the business case for it and then get a bank loan ..... And since I have to use the airport for work (there is no choice) I must pay - I call this extortion)

Like I've said, if the models catch on and are proved fairly reliable (No business model is entirely reliable in the end) I can see that easily happen. But only if it catches on and that means both gamers and devs trust in it sufficiently to be a success.

You have Tim Schaffer's example, he's near $1M now, if he hasn't surpassed it already. If you have the reputation and the name to stand by it it won't be hard to get crowdsourcing funds fast right now.

If the model is proven to be fairly reliable without too many huge bumps in the process then it's business logic in action, why use a middle man that despite funding you will take a large cut and meddle in your development process if you can appeal to gamers and they might fund you and you keep all the profits to yourself after the game's release? But again, the big if is if this model is proven successful over time. If not, well, other models will spring up and publishers will hold on for a little while longer. But it's undeniable the industry is certainly walking towards ditching publishers as more devs find being indie far more attractive than being published. The main reason devs use a publisher is to get financial backing which still is the biggest weakness of the indie model. Take that away and you'll hardly find any decent reasons to use a publisher. Any clever developer will either discipline itself or find someone to discipline their group to meet deadlines at a reasonable rate, any silly developer will not. I mean, it's not like publishers do enforce that kind of discipline successfuly, the industry is painted with stories of overspending, stupidity and missing deadlines on any game being made under the wing of a publisher.
 
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29. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 17:30 creatorswhim
 
How long do you guys think it will take for Bobby Kotick to start crowdsourcing Activision's games?

I mean, get the money up front then sell DLC on the back end... sounds like he just doubled Activision's profits.
 
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28. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 17:20 killer_roach
 
Creston wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:51:
Kajetan wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 13:04:
Verno wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 11:26:
I think everyone reasonable can agree the traditional publishing model is now reaching the point of absurdity when a company can somehow manage to sell a million copies of a title and not make a profit.
Just look at EA. A revenue of billions of dollars a year, no profit at all for years.

On paper. No profit at all on paper.

Trust me that that company's making plenty of money, but the wonderful IRS lets them deduct everything as an expense so ostensibly they wind up in the red and owe no taxes.

Creston

Corporate profit reported in their earnings statement != tax liability. They're two wildly different things, and to equate them is to be either woefully misinformed or deliberately disingenuous.
 
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27. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 17:19 Kosumo
 
ASeven wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:19:

Publishers are becoming obsolete and IF these new models survive and catch on despite the usual bumps then it'll be very hard to convince a dev to use a publisher when you can turn to gamers and they'll give you as much money as you need to finish the project.

Total bullshit - gamers giving you as much money as you need to finish the project? Sound like Duke Nukem Forever - they had little to no publisher oversite and look where that ended up. Also L.A. Noire - I'd say (for what I've read) that that game would have failed huge if not for Rockstar input.

While I see this a good for some, it's far from the be all and end all.

It will also be abused by some devs.

(I liken this to when a airport charges you for a departure tax to fund airport up grades - any other business would have to weight up the business case for it and then get a bank loan ..... And since I have to use the airport for work (there is no choice) I must pay - I call this extortion)
 
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26. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 17:11 Ruffiana
 
Yakubs wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 15:06:
ASeven wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 14:49:
Hence publishers are slowly but surely becoming obsolete as devs go their own independent way without the need of an often useless middle man.

Publishers are very unlikely to ever become obsolete. Most developers have barely enough money for payroll, let alone marketing campaigns. Publishers are only obsolete for developers working on games that don't have mass market appeal.

This ultimately could lead to a win-win-win for the game industry. Publishers will still rely on internal studios and relatively unknown developers to make their games. If a team crafts something really solid, then that's incentive for publishers to not treat them like crap...lest they splinter off on their own and turn to crowdsourcing for funding.

It's also a great incentive for developers to make something exceptional so they'll have the option of not sucking the publisher teat cand catering to their whims.

Ultimately, it puts the emphasis on building a brand around a team of developers rather than marketting the latest itteratino on an established franchise. That's a win for gamers.

Haven't been this positive about the potential outlook for games in a long time. I've seen other developers attempt this crowdsourcing thing before but struggle with it because they're relatively obscure or completely unknown. This is the first time I've seen a genuine interest based solely on name recognition for past successes.
 
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25. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 17:01 ASeven
 
Update on this: It's about to hit $1M.  
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24. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 16:51 Creston
 
Kajetan wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 13:04:
Verno wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 11:26:
I think everyone reasonable can agree the traditional publishing model is now reaching the point of absurdity when a company can somehow manage to sell a million copies of a title and not make a profit.
Just look at EA. A revenue of billions of dollars a year, no profit at all for years.

On paper. No profit at all on paper.

Trust me that that company's making plenty of money, but the wonderful IRS lets them deduct everything as an expense so ostensibly they wind up in the red and owe no taxes.

Creston
 
Avatar 15604
 
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23. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 16:42 ASeven
 
killer_roach wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:38:
ASeven wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:19:
Obviously this new business model has a lot of flaws. This is a business model based on human goodwill and my cynicism said and still says this will fail miserably, however Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing projects have survived the early huge bumps so maybe this model will last.

Crowdsourcing mostly works with established entities, and it's not particularly new.

In the music industry, Marillion has been using that model for their last handful of albums, and Spock's Beard did it on their most recent one.

Yes, that's one of the weaknesses of the model. Unknown entities will not have the reputation established ones have and hence it's hard to give money to unknowns. Which is why it's a leap of faith to give money to unknowns and sometimes all ends well, sometimes it doesn't.
 
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22. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 16:38 killer_roach
 
ASeven wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 16:19:
Obviously this new business model has a lot of flaws. This is a business model based on human goodwill and my cynicism said and still says this will fail miserably, however Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing projects have survived the early huge bumps so maybe this model will last.

Crowdsourcing mostly works with established entities, and it's not particularly new.

In the music industry, Marillion has been using that model for their last handful of albums, and Spock's Beard did it on their most recent one.
 
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21. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 16:19 ASeven
 
Obviously this new business model has a lot of flaws. This is a business model based on human goodwill and my cynicism said and still says this will fail miserably, however Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing projects have survived the early huge bumps so maybe this model will last. And as with crowdsourcing models, or even paid alphas or indies asking for money for pre-orders, you are investing on an unknown, you do not know if the investment will pay off (game getting released) or not. Obviously having a great reputation like Tim helps tremendously but in the end all crowdsourcing projects have the same huge flaw, the project designer might just nab the money and run off and we get burned.

But it is a new model and will have teething problems. There are other models, most of them born from the indie community like the way so many bundles are being released and being successful. These models are not only growing in acceptance both from consumers and devs but more new models are emerging. The truth is that even though these models largely depend on goodwill and a leap of faith that may or may not pay off, they are models that are growing in acceptance and use quite quickly. Do they have problems? Obviously, like all business models. Nothing is perfect, much less business models. But there are models that are better than others when you're a developer and right now devs are seeing Steam becoming wildly rich and thinking that they too can share that wealth and lose the middle man.

Publishers are becoming obsolete and IF these new models survive and catch on despite the usual bumps then it'll be very hard to convince a dev to use a publisher when you can turn to gamers and they'll give you as much money as you need to finish the project.
 
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20. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 16:14 Elessar
 
jdreyer wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 14:29:
This will be an interesting experiment. Didn't Love try something like this a couple of years ago? Whatever happened to that? With MC, at least Notch had a fairly workable alpha available for people to play around with before they started paying him cash.

With this people are donating based solely on the strength of Tim Schafer and Double Fine's previous work. I'll be watching this to see how things progress. Now, maybe I can use this an excuse to actually go and play Psychonauts which has been sitting in my Steam queue for a year undownloaded and unplayed. Blush
This expiriment reminds me of what Louis CK did with his recent show. I think it was a lot more successful than he anticipated and that seems to be the case here with Double Fine. I'm more than happy to contribute and prove this model works, cutting out the some of bloated and greedy publishers.

And yes, for shame for not playing Psychonauts. Get on that!
 
Avatar 46094
 
"You don't get what you deserve, you get what you get."
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19. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 15:25 eRe4s3r
 
All it takes is one studio with that crowd-sourced kind of cash taking the money and going down in flames with no result for this model to INSTANTLY end forever, or at least without some serious contractual frameworks. For now it has still trust and the aura of "nothing can go wrong" - but we both know that won't go on forever. Kickstarter already has the issue that projects like these can take many years to complete and if a developer stops working on a game after receiving funding you have no way to force them, but your money is gone anyway.

At this point i am actually surprised Kickstarter wasn't pwned in a huge scam yet but in a sense i am also glad.. i hope they fix these things before they happen because this crowd sourcing can only be a good thing for gaming
 
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18. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 15:06 Yakubs
 
ASeven wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 14:49:
Hence publishers are slowly but surely becoming obsolete as devs go their own independent way without the need of an often useless middle man.

Publishers are very unlikely to ever become obsolete. Most developers have barely enough money for payroll, let alone marketing campaigns. Publishers are only obsolete for developers working on games that don't have mass market appeal.
 
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17. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 14:55 space captain
 
$weet je$u$  
Go forth, and kill!
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16. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 14:49 ASeven
 
Cutter wrote on Feb 9, 2012, 14:14:
Publishers are most certainly not on their way out. Not when they can peddle schlock like CoD/MW/BF every year or two to the tune of a billion dollars. No, they're just becoming more focused on where the dollars go, which is to say a lot less risk/investment in new and unknown IPs. That's what crowdsourcing will be good for.

Well, think of it this way. As Verno correctly pointed out, the current business model of publishers often means that millions of copies sold don't bring a profit. Now imagine yourself a dev, would you want to go through the work environment of a publisher and all the troubles it brings, work on a game you might or might not like working without any assurance whatsoever the game will have any sort of profit OR do you prefer to go at it alone, taking a huge gamble but at least doing the work the way you want it and like it, if you hit success you reap profits far easier than with a publisher and if you do hit profit you'll profit far more than if you were with a publisher, as the Amnesia devs said about their game after it sold 400K units, and in the worst case that you don't have enough money to make the game then you can try to show that what you are producing has the potential to be good and be crowd funded through kickstarter or a paid alpha?

Two different scenarios but devs are finding out they don't need a middle man when you can go at it alone and earn far more money if your game has enough potential to be good. Hence publishers are slowly but surely becoming obsolete as devs go their own independent way without the need of an often useless middle man.
 
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15. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 14:38 Mr. Tact
 
I don't understand. Why did they need a "Kickstart champaign"? Did they lose their butts in the the San Francisco real estate market? This company has made games I know about, games I thought did at least reasonably well but they have no money? I seem to be missing part of the story here...  
Truth is brutal. Prepare for pain.
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14. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 14:29 jdreyer
 
This will be an interesting experiment. Didn't Love try something like this a couple of years ago? Whatever happened to that? With MC, at least Notch had a fairly workable alpha available for people to play around with before they started paying him cash.

With this people are donating based solely on the strength of Tim Schafer and Double Fine's previous work. I'll be watching this to see how things progress. Now, maybe I can use this an excuse to actually go and play Psychonauts which has been sitting in my Steam queue for a year undownloaded and unplayed. Blush
 
Avatar 22024
 
"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
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13. Re: Double Fine Crowdsourcing Feb 9, 2012, 14:14 Cutter
 
Publishers are most certainly not on their way out. Not when they can peddle schlock like CoD/MW/BF every year or two to the tune of a billion dollars. No, they're just becoming more focused on where the dollars go, which is to say a lot less risk/investment in new and unknown IPs. That's what crowdsourcing will be good for.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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52 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 2.
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