Fan Funded Disappointment
There’s always a risk when you invest into something. Whether it be someone’s gofundme, an indiegogo for a product, or even a big developer’s plea to get a game made. I feel like with how things are in the gaming industry, us gamers are a bit more guarded than we used to be. A good bunch of us get upset at DLC when it’s announced, microtransactions, pay to win mechanics, and many other such things, so it’s always struck me as odd that Kickstarter games have been so high profile and so financially successful. We’re giving a studio money for a promise, and lately for us gamers, we’ve been getting notably stung by Kickstarters. On May 26th, we experienced the most recent example yet, Friday The 13th.
Friday The 13th was a kickstarter created by Gun Media that was supposed to be a video game homage to a much beloved horror movie villain, Jason Voorhees. The Kickstarter made well over their initial goal of $700,000, making their donors very hopeful that they’d be getting something well worth their investment. We even got a beta to keep our hopes up as we continued waiting for our glorious gorefest of a game. Now what we got is being considered to be one of the biggest disappointments this year. With Mass Effect Andromeda out, that’s saying a lot. On the day of release, we got a game that turned out to be not too different from the beta. One game mode, bugs, glitches, balancing issues, amateurish animations, and this is only if you got into the game at all. When the game launched, so many people tried getting in that it did a number on the servers, causing the devs to issue patches and even shut the servers down altogether for maintenance. Imagine that, you donate money into an idea you sincerely believe in, you eagerly wait for each update, you get excited after playing the beta, and you can’t even boot the game up on release. Luckily, the developers care a lot about this game and they have been keeping us up to date with every single patch that’s going out on it. At least they didn’t say it’s better than nothing.
Mighty No 9 is probably the most notable Kickstarter disappointment to date, or as Ben Judd infamously said about the game, “It’s better than nothing”. Mighty No 9 was meant to be the spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, even involving the “Father of Mega Man”, Keiji Inafune. When it was first shown in 2013, it showed footage that played on the nostalgia in the people that have been waiting for a new Mega Man game for years. While at the time, it only asked for $900,000, it garnered almost $4 million. The game got so big that the studio went out looking for more investors to help fund the expansive ideas they added. They found one in publisher, Deep Silver, to the disdain of fans who had already given their money to fund this indie game’s development. The game was also delayed several times, being released in June 2016, over a year after it’s initial release date of Spring 2015. This was also after Keiji Inafune stated that the game was practically finished in January 2015. When the game finally did release, it was not what donors were shown when they donated. The art style had changed completely, with the original style looking stylish and detailed, and the new style looking very uninspired, like a bargain bin PS2 game that you never heard of.
Not only did they kill the dreams that Mighty No 9 hopefuls had, but they had the gall to put two new projects on Kickstarter while Mighty No 9 got delayed. They were a game and connected anime called Red Ash, which failed due to fans’ distaste for the studio, Comcept’s eagerness to promote it while not delivering the game that was already funded. Disappointments like these stick out and are remembered for quite a while, if you mention Might No 9 these days, what rings in people’s heads is the potential and unpredictable downward spiral that has become of Mighty No 9’s legacy.
Now let me tell you about another Kickstarter game. It had an incredibly modest goal of $5,000, it amazingly blew past that to land $51,124, and it was only accepting money for a month. The developer wasn’t doing anything shady, had regular updates, and was very modest about the whole thing. This game ended up being the critically acclaimed indie darling Undertale. I mention this game because not all is lost in the world of Kickstarter games, not all of them will end up being disasters or disappointments. I don’t want everybody to just stop funding Kickstarter games because some great things wouldn’t see the light of day without it. I want us to hold disappointments accountable, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to donate to a game, get excited for it, have it disappoint you, voice your opinion, and some dude on Twitter tells you to stop whining. That’s honestly unfathomable to me.
So in conclusion, when it comes to Kickstarters, as I said about Alphas or Betas, be hopeful, but also be helpful. Don’t deflect criticism, especially when people have put their own money into creating it. Fans have the right to be disappointed and be critical. We have the right to try and make this salvageable.