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The Crowd Funded MMO

Genese Davis Posted:
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Crowd sourcing has boomed in popularity creating a way for organizations to connect with audiences and promote a common vision. Many gamers have mentioned how crowd funding is a way to show their support for a particular game they’d want to play, no matter what genres seem momentarily popular.

When publishers turn down game proposals like Wasteland 2, developers can use tools like Kickstarter to bring awareness and check the pulse of the gamer. In a sense, the public becomes a voice to the developer by showing their support and jumpstarting game production despite publisher rejections. Players’ willingness to put their money on the line gives these “underdog” projects a chance at life.

There are quite a few crowd-funded video games that are considered great successes like Faster Than Light and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Could these single player/multi-player game successes be a good omen for the MMO arena as well? It’d be safe to say no, because MMOs have monumental demands completely outside the scope of smaller, more linear games. Nevertheless, we’ve seen a massive pool of developers pitch their MMO ideas to the world and ask for crowd funding. There were those that missed their target, but take a look at how many met their mark. These are just a few of the MMOs titles that exceeded their funding goals:

Pathfinder Online

Pledge Goal: $50,000 

Pledged Amount: $307,843

Updates by Goblinworks here

Shroud of the Avatar

Pledge Goal: $1,000,000

Pledged Amount: $1,919,275

Updates by SOTA here

Camelot Unchained

Pledge Goal: $2,000,000

Pledged Amount: $2,232,933

Updates by City State Entertainment here

Starlite (Former name: Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond)

Pledge Goal: $25,000

Pledged Amount: $46,719

No 2013 updates found

Shadowrun Online

Pledge Goal: $500,000

Pledged Amount: $558,863

Updates by Cliffhanger Productions here

The Repopulation

Pledge Goal: $25,000

Pledged Amount: $53,169

Updates available to backers here

Greed Monger

Pledge Goal: $30,000

Pledged Amount: $90,132

Updates available to backers here

A lot of these MMO campaigns said they chose crowd funding in order to work directly for and with players versus working for a large publisher. Backers can contribute art, music, world building, and become dungeon creators. The campaigns for Pathfinder Online and Shroud of the Avatar described backers as content contributors, and implied that an entirely new process for developing an MMO is in the works. By changing the way MMOs are made, they hope to deliver a completely empowering experience for players.

These aspects of letting players define parts of the game changes things. Now, the gamer is not just examining a finished game when it’s released, they’re thinking about game mechanics, artwork, and so on, in hopes that their contributions end up in the final game. That undoubtedly creates an attachment to the game unique to those contributors. Envisioning how game mechanics will work, and then experimenting with them is tedious and extremely difficult. In last week’s column Q&A with QA, we saw some of the complexities in quality assurance testing.

When gamers become backers and backers become developers, how will the game evolve and how will the gamer’s experience change? If movie critics were present on set, how would that influence their score for the finished film? There are pros and cons to playing a game created by someone else’s artistic dream and to playing one you’ve had a hand in.

Many enthusiasts back crowd funding projects because there is a promise that gamer and developer can work together to create amazing adventures. On the other side of the coin we’ve seen various reasons to be wary, and shy away from ambitious projects, i.e., those crowd-funded video games placed on an indefinite hiatus due to “unforeseen circumstances” etc.

Are backers getting the chance to dive in and contribute the way these campaigns say they can? If you’re a backer, tell us your experience. Have you submitted any world art or experimented with the developers’ game assets? How’s it going? As spectators, we’ll be hoping for the best and wishing these projects the best of luck.

Let’s connect! Find me at GeneseDavis.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Until then, remember: write at night, game on, and lark your life. <3

Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.

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Genese Davis

Genese Davis / Bimonthly, The Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about video games, the issues the industry faces, and the power of shaping online worlds. Find her on Twitter @GeneseDavis and GeneseDavis.com