With the release of Tim Schafer’s return to adventure games, Broken Age, releasing next week, I thought it would be interesting to explore it’s success on Kickstarter and the trend its rapid success on the crowd funding site brought about: the return of niche genres and franchises that publishers felt weren’t profitable enough to make a return.
What is now known as Broken Age won its funding almost two years ago simply as Double Fine Adventure, with little known about the project besides that it was a traditional point-and-click adventure game being made by Tim Schafer and his studio Double Fine Productions. Just that information was enough for it to raise over double its expected funds in 24 hours, and by the end of its campaign, over 3.3 million dollars had been raised for the project. Just the prospect of a traditional point-and-click adventure game being made again by one of the best creators of them in their hay day brought people to their page in droves.
This then inspired the dramatic rise in Kickstarter games, with Double Fine Adventure a resounding public proving ground for Kickstarter viability. Games like last year’s Shadowrun Returns and the upcoming Wasteland 2 popped up on Kickstarter shortly after, bringing back beloved cult franchises long dormant and asking their fans to help get them back out there. All of these games only had a chance of really being made through Kickstarter, with their franchise, genre, or both too niche for a large publisher to really risk the investment in making them.
While the large amount of Kickstarter projects are-and should be-projects done by small teams with reasonable projects and goals that are too small to find a publisher, the path these games took is one that I believe is a reasonable and possibly exciting path for larger developers to take of using Kickstarter to fund pure, niche passion projects. To see studios like Double Fine get back to their LucasArts-heritage roots and Harebrained Schemes bring back Shadowrun (and not in the form of a multiplayer shooter) is something I enjoy seeing, and wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of.