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The Rise of Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing in The Video Game Sector

The Rise of Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing in The Video Game Sector

The video game sector is often viewed as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking industries in which to work, and with good reason. The sector seems to attract people with a certain kind of mindset and outlook. People who like being at the forefront of new trends and movements, and particularly those with a technological element.

It is probably not surprising therefore that the sector has experienced some significant developments in recent years as a result of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, online concepts that are having an impact on a whole range of industries.

What does this mean for the video game industry?

There are three big ways in which crowdfunding is making a difference to the way video games are produced.

  • Start-Up Costs: The costs of creating a video game have increased significantly in recent years as the industry has grown larger and more popular, and customer demands and expectations have increased. As a result, smaller producers have been priced out, as such costs have been prohibitively high for all but the biggest organizations. Crowdfunding has allowed these smaller producers to access the funds they require to turn their ideas into a reality. Thanks to this, exciting new concepts which may never have seen the light of day are now making it to market.
  • Market Diversity: The balance is therefore shifting away from a situation where all the power was held by a relatively few very large corporations. Activity is now more evenly balanced between the smaller, independent, crowdfunded projects and the larger publishers, such as Activision Blizzard, led by Bobby Kotick. This is potentially very healthy for the market and good news for gamers as smaller, more diverse projects get to experiment and drive innovation and creativity while the larger, billion-dollar publishers like Activision offer a much-needed security by keeping the overall market buoyant.
  • Customer Connection: Crowdfunding is also a great way to establish and maintain customer loyalty as contributors feel a greater connection to, and even responsibility for, the product. Potential customers have a vested interest in its success and provide a kind of free advertising. In this mutually beneficial relationship, the advantages to the contributor are that they get an exciting insight into a project long before it hits the shelves while the game designers enjoy an even greater understanding and appreciation of what their customers want.

Where is this happening already?

This isn’t just about predictions for the future. It’s already happening.

The Double Fine Adventure project is considered one of the earliest examples of game developers tapping into fan loyalty and excitement to build funds. This was the working title of the project that ultimately resulted in the Broken Age point-and-click adventure video game. The original Kickstarter goal was to raise $400,000, which was eventually dwarfed by the $3.45million raised from more than 87,000 backers within a single month, who received early access to the game as a reward.

These staggering figures mean it is still ranked as one of the highest-backed crowdfunded projects ever and the success of the project helped to kick off a trend which Wasteland 2, the hugely popular post-apocalyptic RPG first released in 2014 is often held up as another great example. The developers of the game, inXile Entertainment, also successfully sourced funding for the game through Kickstarter. They acquired the rights to the Wasteland title back in 2003 and started to engage with fans through various online forums on which they released details such as who would be working on the game and the other games from which they would be taking inspiration. They built up such a head of excitement in fact that when they formally announced their intention to crowdfund the production of the game in early 2012 they easily reached their $1,000,000 target, the largest target for any Kickstarter project at that point in time, in less than 48 hours.

Building on this sense of fan involvement and influence, the developers then announced that if investors got them over the $2.1million mark, legendary game designer Chris Avellone and Obsidian would be joining the team. The final total topped $3million.

What does the future hold?

It is impossible to predict with one hundred percent accuracy exactly what is going to happen in any industry, and this is especially true of sectors like the world of video games that are continuing to evolve at a truly remarkable pace. We are already enjoying experiences that to our grandparents would have been considered the stuff of science fiction movies. Who knows what sort of gaming experience our own grandchildren have to look forward to?

One thing that does look likely however is that the continued growth in popularity of crowdfunding will continue to open up the industry to smaller independent game creators and bring designers closer to their ultimate client, the gamer. One way or another, it is helping to lay the foundation for a genuinely exciting future.

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  • Nicolas Flantier Nicolas Flantier Jan 08, 2016 03:57 pm GMT

    This is such a good thing for this industry. As stated in this article, this source of financing allow small structures with awesome and creative ideas to actually release their games instead of being crushed by the bigger companies.
    Knowing that these big companies also have to improve themselves and find new ideas to keep their customers.
    Good for innovation and good for us gamers

  • Tyler Fedun Tyler Fedun Jan 28, 2016 03:47 pm GMT

    Great read!

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