Broken Age Delayed, Split: Double Fine Says $3.3M Isn’t Enough
Despite drawing $3.3 million in crowdfunding and breaking the record for the most money raised on Kickstarter at the time, Double Fine Productions says it doesn’t have enough money to finish Broken Age.
In a message to backers on Kickstarter this week, Double Fine boss Tim Schafer wrote a lengthy explanation about what has delayed the development of the game, originally dubbed “Double Fine Adventure.” According to Schafer, despite originally asking for $400,000 and telling backers the game would be completed in “six to eight months,” the influx of additional money caused him to design a game that was much larger in scope than what Broken Age was originally meant to be, and that in turn caused a serious overestimation of what Double Fine could do with its backer money and how long it would take.
“…we weren’t going to have to cut the game in half, we were going to have to cut it down by 75 percent!”
“We looked into what it would take to finish just first half of our game — Act 1,” Schafer wrote. “And the numbers showed it coming in July of next year. Not this July, but July 2014. For just the first half. The full game was looking like 2015! My jaw hit the floor.
“This was a huge wake-up call for all of us. If this were true, we weren’t going to have to cut the game in half, we were going to have to cut it down by 75 percent! What would be left? How would we even cut it down that far? Just polish up the rooms we had and ship those? Reboot the art style with a dramatically simpler look? Remove the Boy or Girl from the story? Yikes! Sad faces all around.”
Instead, Schafer wrote, the plan is to release Broken Age in two parts. Part 1, the first act of the story, is being aimed for January, and Double Fine means to use Steam Early Access to sell the game to more players. Buying into the Early Access will net players Part 1, and the money raised there will go toward completing Part 2. The second half of the game will be released as a free download, and Double Fine doesn’t mean to charge anyone for it twice. Backers will still get early access to the Broken Age beta version ahead of the release on Steam. That way, backers and other customers still get access to part of the game without too serious a delay, while Double Fine gathers the funds and takes the time necessary to complete Broken Age’s second half.
The announcement kicked off backlash among some of the nearly 90,000 backers of Broken Age, many who were angry at Double Fine for failing to keep the promises it made in the campaign and for looking for even more money to complete the project. (Our own Ron Whitaker saw this as the latest in a series of problematic situations with the crowdfunding service, and wrote about why he’ll no longer be using it.) Schafer took to Twitter to clear the air somewhat, however:
“Double Fine is NOT asking for more money. We are fine, financially. We are using our OWN money to deliver a bigger game than we Kickstarted,” Schafer wrote.
Double Fine is NOT asking for more money. We are fine, financially. We are using our OWN money to deliver a bigger game than we Kickstarted.
— Tim Schafer (@TimOfLegend) July 3, 2013
That’s not quite the case, however, as Schafer noted in the Kickstarter message that Double Fine didn’t have the funds to complete the game without finding some additional source of revenue, which is what led to the Steam Early Access plan.
“Clearly, any overages were going to have to be paid by Double Fine, with our own money from the sales of our other games,” he wrote. “That actually makes a lot of sense and we feel good about it. We have been making more money since we began self-publishing our games, but unfortunately it still would not be enough.”
From the standpoint of backers, things are a bit contentious at the moment. While Double Fine still has quite a bit of goodwill in the gaming community, it’s difficult not to wonder if the eventual completion of Broken Age might be in peril. Schafer assuaged some of those fears in his note to backers, stating, “…the good news is that the game’s design is now 100 percent done, so most of the unknowns are now gone and it’s not going to get any bigger.”