What Does a Kickstarter Failure Look Like?
Torment: Tides of Numenera has set the record as the most highly funded game ever conceived on Kickstarter. Torment received over $4.25 million in funding from more than 70,000 backers, all of whom were able to pledge their money to the project through Kickstarter as well as through PayPal.
InXile and its founder Brian Fargo are hailing the success of Torment as a success for Kickstarter—not just as a viable platform for game developers to pitch their titles to the public, but as transformation of existing game publishing models toward something much more crowd-oriented. Through Kickstarter and similar platforms, the public now has a direct say on the development of the products it consumes.
Fargo, who is also a producer on the game, wrote in his latest update: “We often speak of paradigm shifts and game changers in our industry but you are truly witnessing it in this groundbreaking new model of connecting creators with the players.
“You have all heard me speak to this new power, but truly it will shape the kinds of games you play and the policies of the developers and publishers. More than ever we are in sync with the simple goal of making games without ever losing the gamer’s interests. At Interplay our slogan was By Gamers, For Gamers and this attitude could not be truer today.”
After the success of the Double Fine Adventure Game on Kickstarter last year, the platform saw a surge of high-profile titles, including inXile’s own Wasteland 2, Project Eternity from Obsidian Entertainment, Star Citizen, Shadowrun Returns, the Homestuck Adventure Game, and several others. Regardless of its successes, Kickstarter isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for game developers. A number of big titles, including a Gas Powered Games’ Wildman and Lootdrop’s Shaker: An Old-School RPG have met with failure. Peter Molyneux’s title Project GODUS only barely managed to meet its goal with a few days left on the clock.
More recently, just as inXile’s Torment set the record for the highest-funded game of all time on Kickstarter, another project, The Adventures of Dash, met with failure just a few days ago, raising only $33,000 of its $400,000 target. The Adventures of Dash is, or was, the brainchild of Robert Bowling, a former developer of Call of Duty and one of the most well-known gaming personalities around. Bowling, who goes by ‘fourzerotwo‘ on Twitter, was the spokesperson for Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty franchise.
Bowling may have bet his popularity on the success of his Kickstarter, which didn’t end up being as high as he thought. He wasn’t able to leverage his popularity to drive the game as much as Tim Schafer and did. Popularity alone was not enough to drive the Kickstarter, and the concept of the game failed to catch on with the public.
The various successes and failures on Kickstarter go to show that the public knows what it wants, and having a big name attached to a project just isn’t enough to get people to give up their money. In short, people aren’t going to give up their money for a game they don’t want to play.
To that end, we’ve compiled five high-profile games on Kickstarter which failed to meet their goals in an attempt to closely examine what made them failures, and why.