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.

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.”

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8 Comments on Broken Age Delayed, Split: Double Fine Says $3.3M Isn’t Enough

Mccrackelz

On July 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I’m disappointed in how quickly people turn on kickstarter. This is all part of the investment process, things change, productions change. Nobody invests in a building, for instance, without expecting the budget to stretch at least once.

Double Fine bit off more than they could chew and apologized immediately, I’m actually pretty proud of them. This is NOT a scam, this is the ugly and frustrating side of artistic patronage. Backers did not buy a product, backers invested in the possibility of one.

As a backer of Armikrog (yes, I know about the “Doug” issue: http://dailycrackpot.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-douglas-tennaples-views-on.html) I know it’s possible they may never finish the game, and that’s ok, because I believe in the chance of it being finished. That’s why I gave my $45 to Kickstarter, not Steam.

rickshaw

On July 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Double Fine: Absolutely totally disorganized, Bad management! False promises! more money than they EVER needed! They lived it up probably bought too many houses cars & too high wages.
They never bothered to realize that they needed to nail down do the job and collect bonus’s later.
Funding isn’t about high wages it about helping you get your business needs to further the project.
Kickstarter needs a shake up!!

No more money morons ! !

STEAM has to STOP this “Steam Early Access” plan all it’s attracting is failing game developments, In turn selling incomplete games that we can’t play five minutes of, its so dumb! and we are the idiots who have fallen for it.

This whole FUNDING thing is Spiraling out of control!! ..in the wrong directions..

Its a real shame that kind things end up becoming a rort !

Ron Whitaker

On July 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm

@Mccrackelz: Here’s the problem with your way of thinking. You completely ignore the fact that if a publisher was funding Broken Age, it would in all likelihood be canceled right now, and with good reason. You can’t take a $3+ million budget, make less than half a game, and then expect to turn around and be handed more money. Especially if you went into the project asking for $400K. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve seen Double Fine be over budget and way late. Just look at the history of Brutal Legend.

I have no issue with the scope of the project changing once that immense amount of funding was garnered. What I do have a problem with is that no one at Double Fine appears to be capable of standing up and making a workable budget, especially when the amount of money available has been known for over a year. It’s not because someone wanted to make an amazing game and got carried away. If you’re a professional, you need to be able to work within the limits that your publisher (in this case, that’s us, the backers) sets for you.

Dach

On July 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm

wait! Wait!! WAIT!!!

How the hell do you get eight times the amount of money you said you needed and can only produce 25% of the content you planned on making originally?!?!

This seems like the problems of the triple A industry cranked up to eleven. The fact that they were making a game that was projected to be half done a year from now show poor planning over-all.

I understand that making something takes a little piece of yourself; but sometime you have to step back and let your baby go on as best they can with what you’ve given them.

Mr Glassback

On July 4, 2013 at 1:31 am

How can 8 times your original budget still not be enough? How can you one day “run the numbers” and be aghast to find that your project will take another two years?
I don’t care how you look at it, this is pathetic planning. Greed and stupidity are slowly ruining this industry.

Robyn

On July 4, 2013 at 3:08 am

Glad I didn’t invest in this or their other project. Double Fine don’t seem to have any capability to project manage and work to a budget.

bbyby

On July 5, 2013 at 8:32 am

for me the kickstarter adventure is over for a long time.

R.J.

On July 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Like Ron Whitaker pointed out in his comment above, if this really were an “investment” as some backers seem to view it, there would be some measure of control for the investors. You don’t even get the protection of being able to pull your money out when something goes off like this. That is the big issue I have with Kickstarter, you hand the money over and just hope that the project is delivered as promised. Somebody can apologize all they want, but if you go grossly over budget and still need more, there are issues that can’t be fixed through a simple apology. I can see why Double Fine wanted to make something much more substantial since they received much more than they asked for, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that somebody as experienced as that studio could miss the mark this badly unless there was little financial oversight going on with the company. If you ask for $400,000, get $3.3 million, and still can’t finish, that is the type of situation where projects get canceled, or people get fired.

Also on the idea of this being an “investment,” if that were truly accurate, you would actually have a chance to share in in the success in a way that is more reflective of what you put into it. When you “invest” you share in possible losses and possible profits. You might get to share in the losses in a case where a project doesn’t finish, etc. since the money would be gone, but a bit of swag or a copy of the game is not exactly close to a return on investment. If people want to give money to these projects, that is fine since it is their money, and some interesting projects can be made, but between what you get in return (swag, good feelings, etc.) and the control you have (little to none), Kickstarter funding is much closer to a charitable donation than an investment.