Having an interview with Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton (co-founders of Artcraft Entertainment) about the recent IndieGoGo/Microventures funding news is a bit hard. You see, by the basic rules and laws put forth by the government, there’s not a whole lot they can discuss in detail about the investment setup. But they can talk about why IndieGoGo, and how things are going with Crowfall, so that’s just what we did.
After we figured out (and laughed) about just how little detail we could go into on the actual investment (see IndieGoGo for the details, really – it’s all HERE), we got to talking. The IGG and Microventures platform is more of an actual investment than Kickstarter, where traditionally you’re just giving over funds to get perks and support a project you like. With IndieGoGo’s new investment partnership with Microventures, you’re actually investing a larger amount of money in the company and yes that means you’re due to profit from the investment should the company prove successful.
Make sense? Good. Let’s get to the questions.
First: Why another round of investing? What will the funding be used for?
This one was pretty simple: The legal sorting that was initially required to do this with IndieGoGo and Microventures finally got ironed out. Initially, Todd and Gordon wanted to have this sort of funding campaign from day one, but it simply wasn’t an option. Even Fig didn’t exist yet. So they wrote it off, went with Kickstarter, secured other seed funding, and kept working on the game. As for what the funding’s being used for, they can’t even answer that much.
Todd and Gordon weren’t even allowed to pre-hype the announcement of this funding venture. As part of the rules, it’s specifically not allowed. Which is so funny, because that’s precisely what makes Kickstarter successes work – the buildup (see Corwfall’s own success there).
So when IndieGoGo came calling and said they needed a game company as a part of this Microventure partnership launch, Todd and Gordon were actually in the process of looking for more funding and this seemed like a perfect fit. They continue to want their game beholden to players first and foremost, and this platform allows both investment and returns for interested gamers.
Number Two: Players may see this as "we don't have enough money to deliver what our goal is" - is that the case?
In Todd’s own words: “Yes, that’s absolutely the case… but it’s the case for every MMO ever made. We, and the industry, will never have the funds we need to make everything we want to make. We have enough to get Crowfall where it needs to be as it was pitched, absolutely. But as the heads of this company, we owe it to our staff and our prospective players to keep trying to make the game bigger and better. Part of that, and anyone making an MMO in today’s market can attest, is securing the funding to make the best damn game possible.”
So why not use something like Fig, why something unproven in the field like Indiegogo?
Todd said: "Fig's model is not quite what we were looking for. With Fig, you're not investing, you are getting a royalty off of unit sales. With Title 3 equity investment, you are actually investing in the company. We like that better, as a model. We feel like it is a deeper relationship." “
On the state of the genre in general, Gordon and Todd agreed: “If we ever want to rise above copies, MOBAs, WoW clones… we need to get the funding to make a AAA quality game. By this adventure with IndieGoGo, we’re simply trying to find another way to accomplish this.” And indeed, it’s no small task. The last of the big AAA funding went out the window with several high profile wastes of money in the MMO market, so plucky fundraising is likely the best way to go about getting real money to make a quality MMORPG today.
Todd ended: “I know we’ll make it out the door with our product and it’ll be exactly what we’ve pitched. I suspect Mark Jacobs and Camelot Unchained will as well. But of the many crowd-funded MMOs, those are probably the only two I feel safe taking a guess on. This is a hard thing to do – the Indie MMO scene is basically guiding the next steps for an entire industry and I hope we all succeed.”
Next up: Does this round of crowdfunding delay your launch window?
Gordon: “It has no impact at all, really. One way or the other we are always fund-raising. We must keep the train going. The only thing that would have affected our timeline, is if we got a huge influx of income (for outsourcing, more staff, etc). Then we could have moved dates up, or even pushed back more. But we opted not to go that route. We want to be attributable to our players, and only our players. It’s hard, but that’s the idea.”
Speaking of the game: how goes it?
The Crowfall team is up to 31 full-time people now, and they’ll likely hire more close to and after launch because dealing with a live game brings all sorts of new caveats. But they’ve got the core of people they need, everyone’s firing on all cylinders and the Big World testing and massive changes to combat are going really well.
What about Eternal Kingdoms, other campaign types beyond FFA PVP?
Todd took this one: “We went with FFA PVP as being our first ruleset for a simple reason: it’s the easiest one to get out there. Plus we want to let all of our hardcore PVP fans (there are many) know we’re not suddenly toning things down for them. Those FFA PVP campaigns will be the most rewarding but most dangerous ones. And when we move on to test Guild vs. Guild, Faction PVP, and other systems, those people will see that we’ve not forgotten them either. And yes, Eternal Kingdoms are coming along really nicely. Folks will love what we’re doing with those.”
And with that, we ended our chat for now. As always, Gordon and Todd seem like beacons of hope for a weary genre. We’ll be playing in some upcoming Big World tests and hope to report back what we find. For now, it certainly seems like Artcraft and Crowfall are moving along nicely, and that 2017 will be an interesting year. Just give me my hamster Duelist, please.