Today marks the last day of the Project Eternity Kickstarter drive, one of the biggest success stories for the crowdfunding website to date, considering more than 65,000 Dungeons and Dragons nerds with way too much disposable income have donated more than $3.3 million – fully three times the amount originally asked for by Obsidian Entertainment. This is pretty big god damned news. especially in the currently bitter and jaded landscape of computer video gaming.
There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt on the interwebs since Obsidian launched their Kickstarter campaign about a month ago, and while much of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive ($1.1 million of it in about 24 hours, to be exact), there has been a vocal backlash from a rather loud, cranky minority. Kickstarter campaigns have been the target of plenty of ire in the past as the market becomes saturated with everyone and their web-illiterate grandmother launching a crowdfunded campaign to generate boatloads of cash for their pet projects; lumpy-faced proto-neckbeard game developer Tim Schafer, famous for developing beloved point-and-click adventure games in the halcyon days of the genre, started the trend with the $3.45 million raised for his upcoming Double Fine Adventure crowd-funded game, and everyone’s decided to ride the Kickstarter wagon until the wheels fall off.
For one I have no problem with Kickstarter. It’s an amazing vehicle for breaking the shackles of having to secure a deal with a game publisher that’s going to demand enough creative control over a game to ensure it sells as many copies as possible. This can result in the gutting of a game in an effort to make it more palatable to a wide audience of consumers or even rushing a title to ship in order to make the Christmas shopping season, even though there’s a ton of bugs that still aren’t fixed. It’s easy to get up on your high horse and condemn the actions of publishers that do this, but they are, after all, in the business of making money by making games, and not making games to make money: their priorities are going to be skewed away from ensuring a quality product such as an innovative game with rewarding gameplay and storytelling is shipped and towards one that’s going to simply give them the best return on their investment, like the latest iteration of FIFA P or John Madden’s Ultimate Arena Roofie Rape Football.
Crowd-sourcing your development costs is a great way to bypass this cesspool of focus-group tested, lowest common denominator gaming that has been circling the drain for years now. Some people seem to have a problem with it, but it seems more that the bitching is about Obsidian in general than the fact that they’re asking for crowd-sourced funds. Honestly I don’t see what people are bitching about, as I’ve enjoyed just about every game I’ve played that Obsidian or its former incarnation as Black Isle Studios has put out and I’d love to see more of the same – a sentiment that would lead me to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign if every last cent wasn’t going towards wedding expenses right now.
However, people with problems with Kickstarter or Obsidian don’t have to contribute to the development costs of a game and they certainly don’t have to purchase a copy of the game once that development is finished, so I really don’t know why they’re complaining so long and hard about something they have no stake in, short of just being miserable assholes that can’t stand to see a bunch of people get excited about something. Not that such a response would surprise me at this point – especially not since it’s an election year.