Crowdfunding & MMOs - Showing the Community’s Voice
When it comes to the overall MMO community, there seem to be few current topics with less controversy than crowdfunding. Because crowdfunded games have mainly been single player affairs, and MMO budgets notoriously high, the skepticism is deserved when it comes to these projects. Criticism and a wait and see attitude aren't unreasonable, though there are multiple benefits to looking to the community to fund a game that traditional publishers might not touch.
Studios are notoriously risk averse with the cost to make games having swelled over the years. Yet as it turns out, a lot of players are also risk averse. A recent study that shows that people don't actually love creative ideas is also relevant here. What people love is when very creative ideas are successful, but when yet unproven, when given a choice between what seems out there and what seems solid and reasonable advice, those with the untested ideas often lose out. In terms of gaming, we can see this all across genres with players buying sequels and many major studios thinking about new IP only if it will work as a franchise.
So, with all of this, the topic of Kickstarter, which is bearing fruit when it comes to games every day, the crowdfunded MMO is still in the mostly untested by the general public category. That will change soon, but the issues that come up will stay until that day comes, and probably longer. When The Repopulation held a fundraising campaign to build the upcoming sandbox, enough people responded to the idea and Above and Beyond raised just over $53,000 with a $25,000 goal. The game had been under development independently for about four years by that point, and this campaign intended to deliver more features and to pay for advanced development. Since that campaign closed in 2012, the game has been in private alpha, but reached the public at shows like PAX Prime. The game's progress has been carefully watched by backers and those who want to see a new sandbox add to player choice in the otherwise crowded (and arguably similar) current crop of games.
With a first beta scheduled for March of this year, the team launched another Kickstarter campaign in December to fund further development before that new stage. Features planned for The Repopulation could be added down the line, but the current campaign could push some of those into launch features. The initial goal was met with three weeks left to go, and the campaign will close this week. Yet, this second dip into the community's pocket did inspire some commenters across the internet to feel that it was greedy or poor planning. Many deride campaigns like this as begging for money even the first time, so a second campaign for The Repopulation had its share of critics.
We're in uncharted territory, because when people want a certain type of game, they're often told to go make it. With tools, graphics, and licensing for software having become somewhat more accessible over the past couple of years, some people are finally able to start working on those dream projects. Like those people cited in the study about creativity, we look at The Repopulation's relatively small amounts raised and we look at Star Citizen rolling on with over $36 million as of this writing, and many are skeptical about each. Some are critical about the “double-dipping” and others might see Star Citizen as having gotten too big without delivering yet. Yet $36 million dollars for a traditional AAA game would be quite modest.