Tim Schafer's $3 Million Kickstarter Game Runs Out of Cash, Steam Early Access to the Rescue

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News Posted: Fri, Jul 5 2013 9:39 AM
There is still a market for adventure games. Industry veteran and founder of Double Fine games Tim Schafer proved it when he opened a Kickstarter campaign for a then-untitled adventure game (now called Broken Age) seeking a modest $400,000 in funding. Fans of Schafer's resume (The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, and many more) flocked to the project and forked over $1 million in just the first day. When the campaign concluded, Schafer had raised over $3.3 million in funding from over 87,000 backers, thus ensuring the game would be made and that Double Fine wouldn't have to seek out a publisher.

That was nearly a year and four months ago. Fast forward to today, Schafer is letting backers know he's run out of funds, and at the current pace, he would have to cut the game down by 75 percent. That means it's essentially 25 percent finished from what he envisioned, but without the cash to go the distance.

Tim Schafer

"We looked into what it would take to finish just first half of our game—Act 1. And the numbers showed it coming in July of next year. Not this July, but July 2014. For just the first half. The full game was looking like 2015!," Schafer explained in a note to backers. "My jaw hit the floor. This was a huge wake-up call for all of us. If this were true, we weren’t going to have to cut the game in half, we were going to have to cut it down by 75 percent!"

Luckily for fans, Schafer isn't going that route. Instead, he plans to make some "modest cuts" so that his team can finish the first half of the game by January, and then release that portion on Steam Early Access. Backers wouldn't have to play it, but those who are tired of waiting for the game would at least have the option of diving in.


"We were always planning to release the beta on Steam, but in addition to that we now have Steam Early Access, which is a new opportunity that actually lets you charge money for pre-release content," Schafer said. "That means we could actually sell this early access version of the game to the public at large, and use that money to fund the remaining game development. The second part of the game would come in a free update a few months down the road, closer to April-May."

How did it come to this in the first place? Short and simple, Schafer designed a game much bigger than the funds would allow. A miscalculation, if you will, though the end result will be a game that's bigger than his past projects. Given that fact, are you okay with this approach, or do you think this sets a bad precedent for future Kickstarter projects?
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LukeKirke replied on Fri, Jul 5 2013 10:27 AM

And don't forget the humble bundle

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This is very bad for Kickstarter. Schafer received over 6 times what he was initially seeking and was only able to make 25% of the game! What if he was funded with only $500,000? The game would be only about 4% finished even though he was promising a full game at $400,000! He is a veteran game maker, he should have known better. I'd like to see an accounting as to what THREE MILLION DOLLARS was spent on in the last year and now he's going to try and further milk fans by "actually sell[ing] early access" of game content?!

If I was a big investor I'd be taking him to court, if I was a small one and lived near him, I'd take him to small claims court, this is ridiculous.

Kickstarter is going to start having problems if they don't figure something out about projects doing stuff like this.

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lipe123 replied on Fri, Jul 5 2013 12:12 PM

I'm having a pretty tough time figuring out how you manage to spend 3mil $ and not realize long before you run out that something is going wrong.

Also would be interesting to see where exactly the money goes in game development. Long ago with games like "day of the tentacle" I'm pretty sure he did not need to use 3mil $ and that was an amazingly fun game to play.

So just because games have pretty graphics nowdays suddenly they cost a fortune to make? I see loads of Indie games with very good graphics sold for 7.99 or 15$ on steam.

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Warsoul replied on Fri, Jul 5 2013 12:25 PM

Just put it on an blacklist ! Shame on you ! Don't take us for idiots. He prolly get money to sabotage the kickstater era !

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