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Takedown dev: Kickstarter won’t ever produce a “Madden killer”

Thursday, 5th April 2012 01:32 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Takedown developer Christian Allen doesn’t see the Kickstarter revolution as a threat to major publishers, and doubts the publishers do, either.

Allen, who shipped his tactical shooter to several publishers before giving up and successfully crowdfunding it, thinks Kickstarter has its place alongside the established business model.

“Licenses and IPs are huge, and as we’ve seen with Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, and Takedown, these are more ‘retro’ titles that want to bring back an experience that people have missed, so they aren’t even directly competing with the big mainstream games,” he told Eurogamer.

“Even if Kickstarter turns into the Sundance of game development, there are still people out there that want to buy mainstream titles. I don’t think we will suddenly see a ‘Madden killer’ suddenly Kickstarted.”

Allen understands that “niche” games are never going to bring in the kind of returns big publishers are looking for, but he firmly believes sidelined genres can still be successful.

“I don’t doubt that [publishers] are working with a correct assumption, but the key is the numbers we are talking about, the scale of that audience,” he said.

“We are not looking to sell five million-plus in order to be profitable, we are talking about a smaller scale. And I do think that is a viable market.

“Will [Takedown] sell 27 million units and rush to the top of the charts? No I don’t think it will. But based on the response we have gotten, I do think this is a viable market for a game with a proper budget and scope.”

If all goes well, Takedown is expected on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in mid 2013.

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2 Comments

  1. TheWulf

    I always felt that was the point.

    One of the issues with publishers is that you have people who really couldn’t give a shit about the game you’re developing going to marketing, and then coming back to you and telling you to include this, or do that, just because it’s popular. The populist approach can choke creativity.

    The issue is is that publishers put down so much money that they feel that they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator in order to make their money back, so they try to appeal to the broadest range of people. One example of this is violence. Sadly, many of our not so humble species have very violent urges indeed, and frequently. So it helps.

    I blame testosterone and similar hormones. (I’ve only recently begun to realise how much of a blessing having low to borderline non-existent hormonal levels is.)

    And some gamers remind me far, far too much of krogans. In every way.

    Whilst it’s true that you have a large audience that you can aim mindless violence at and win a lot of money – for creative people, this just isn’t a lot of fun to do. Concentrating on just the violence in ways that a lot of games recently have just isn’t appealing from their perspective. And then you have to realise that there are a lot of underserved demographics that agree with them.

    So what happens is that you have a developer that says “Sod it!” and decides to start a crowd-funded point & clicker. A game which they can create as truly theirs, without a marketing division forcing what’s popular upon them. And that’s the appeal. They are stark, polar opposites so of course they can co-exist.

    But what I’m finding is that indie efforts are becoming not only more popular, but more profitable.

    Look at how telly is at the moment. Great shows like Stargate Universe are being pulled off the air to make way for… what? Wrestling. Yes. Even SyFy has dropped their line of science-fiction shows for wrestling. Not everyone is a fan of wrestling, and what you see is that these fans of shows that are at least a little more intellectual than seeing sweaty men throw each other about are so bored with television that they’re making their own.

    Pioneer One
    L5
    Nuka Break

    L5 really caught me off guard because both the acting and the special effects are reeeeally impressive. I mean, maybe not by today’s standards, but if you have an open mind, you realise that the first season of Babylon 5 looked a hell of a lot worse than L5 does. And if you can watch Babylon 5 and enjoy it, then it’s easy to be impressed by L5.

    The whole idea of indie is ‘make what you like without idiots telling you what you have to make.’ So, no, publishers will never have a stake in this. And no, it’s never going to create a mainstream game killer because it’s not going to be about mindless violence, or sports, or other populist topics. It’s going to be a very focused thing, it’s going to be a labour of love.

    I mean, when you look at something like To the Moon…

    That game was beautiful. It affected me so emotionally, it had a real punch to it. I cried because of that game, damn them. And that was a game with pixel art, and it still got me. That just shows how much this can work. I can’t remember the last time a mainstream game or television show affected me as much as To the Moon did. But you could tell from the story how incredibly emotionally invested the creator was, too.

    To be honest, I put To the Moon up there with the best of Disney. Frankly? You could turn To the Moon into a Disney film and I think it would do okay, even without changing it. It was… that good.

    Not everyone will appreciate it though.

    There was no stabby stabby, there was no shooty shooty, there was no mindless violence, and no tits.

    So yeah. It’s not going to hold the attention of everyone.

    But the people who do sit down with it and keep an open mind, it’s going to hit you harder than you could possibly have anticipated. Maybe I’m just invested in it because it deals with a topic that I’m personally affected by: Those who aren’t neurotypical and how the rest of the world reacts to and treats them. But it does this tastefully and cleverly.

    It’s simply brilliant.

    You would never…

    And let me stress this.

    You would NEVER get a game that accomplished what To the Moon did from a mainstream publisher. Never. It’s impossible.

    It would have had combat involved, because that’s cool. It would have had more melodrama and angst, because that’s cool. And it would have been more grimdark and less innocent, because that’s cool.

    But because indie, we have To the Moon. We have L5. We have Pioneer One.

    Also because indie, we have Whale Trail. We have Draw Something. We have DustForce. We have Gemini Rue.

    It’s just this entire field of stuff that no publisher in their right mind would publish. Because mainstream doesn’t publish genius.

    Oh, I know that it used to… I mean, we used to have films like Blade Runner. But because so much money has become involved in the mainstream these days, I just find that entertainment is becoming more and more dumb. Ever trying to scrape that lowest common denominator barrel. So you just don’t see anything with the poignant nature of Blade Runner. Instead you get James Cameron and Michael fucking Bay.

    And creativity is choking. Indie was the only obvious response.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. YoungZer0

    Wulf, you really need to learn to stay on topic. That’s mostly the reason you write these articles.

    #2 3 years ago

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