The Indie Game Developer scene is abuzz today with the massive success of the Double Fine Adventure project kickstarter, which met its goal of $400,000 in less than a day, and last I checked was heading over $650,000, with no sign of slowing down.
They still have 33 days of fundraising to go.
To be fair, I’d say it’s somewhat debatable whether the Double Fine Adventure team can be called Indie. I suppose they are, in that they’re not EA, Nintendo, or Capcom, or another major player in the industry.
On the other hand, they’re definitely established people who have a track record, at least as individuals. Team lead Tim Schafer is a 20 year industry veteran, whos first game project leading ended up producing Day of the Tentacle. It’s not like this fundraising success is coming out of a vaccuum.
The question everyone wants to know is: Can I do this?
How repeatable is this? If I could do this, I could quit my job and spend the rest of my life making games, and things would be awesome. So would everyone. Which is why it won’t work. It’ll work for a few, the first few who make it, and who were prepared all along because they worked really hard to be where they were at the right time.
I know right now there’s no way I can do this. If I set up a “me, too” kickstarter, to fund my own game making aspirations, I’d probably raise a nice family of moths in a couple of months. They could fly out of my wallet when I took it out to show people how much money I’d raised.
Maybe I’d be surprised, but I doubt it — I just haven’t produced much of anything yet. It’s unrealistic to have expectations that people would get behind an unknown. I have to work to change that, and it will take time.
The upshot is, if you have already made a name for yourself, and have a lot of friends and contacts in your social networks, and a lot of fans, I’d say it’s probably reasonably repeatable. It’s like having your own personal mini-IPO.
It’s just that there are not a lot of people who can repeat this. There may also be a limited amount of money and fans to go around which will cap the amount of kickstarter success a project can expect to have.
I expect that in the next couple days, anyone who thinks they can pull off the same will try to do so, faster than you can say “meet me at Sutter’s Mill”. The ensuing gold rush will ensure that a lot of projects that haven’t had as much cultivation will be thrown up for the funding public to vote on, and a good number of them will fail to meet expectations. If too much of this happens, public faith in kickstarters could suffer, as projects fail to deliver or churn out Daikatana-level flops. For this reason, I hope that Kickstarter continues to be selective about projects that it backs, and only lets in people who really have their act together.
What it does indicate to me is that the writing is on the wall for publishers and producers. I see this as a good thing, as it should empower creative people to be free to create more and become more diverse in what they produce. On the other hand, there still needs to be some kind of filter on the market to enable the truly good products to be visible in the crowd. Producers and publishers did that, after a fashion, although mainly as a side effect of trying to maximize profits. What will take their place? The social web? Something else?
It will be interesting to see.