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Kickstarter funding getting harder while alpha funding remains strong says Project Zomboid dev

Thursday, 18 July 2013 09:07 GMT By Dave Cook

Project Zomboid’s Chris Simpson has written a superb guide to alpha funding and sandbox creation, in which he warns that getting funded on Kickstarter is becoming harder over time.

Simpson’s article can be found on Indie Games and it gives first-hand insight into alpha funding and stressed that his game has proven successful without the need for crowd-funding or Steam. He said he’d perhaps like to appear on Steam at some point, but is taking things slow to avoid risks.

“We’re yet to appear on the Steam store or even Early Access, however this is our choice,” he explained. “Our own reluctance to ‘blow our load too early’.

“Despite the ecosystem of Steam seemingly being centred around the the summer / holiday sales, we still value our first appearance on there enough to not want to risk going on before we are ready (first impressions, and that). Which may be in part silly and unnecessary (more on that later) or may turn out to be one of our smarter moves. We’ll see.

“I may not know much about what life is like for an indie dev on Steam, but we’ve been through a fair bit on the outside. And to those starting their journey, this is where you will spend a fair amount of time.”

He then shared his own experience of being an indie and selling a game through alpha funding, then explained why he felt Kickstarter is perhaps a dead end for some studios.

“We’ve all seen it. You can smell it in the air,” he continued. “The Kickstarter bubble is strained to breaking point and looks set to burst, if it has not already.
Thankfully, alpha-funding seems to bypass a lot of the growing cynicism levelled at crowd-funding, since people who purchase actually get something for their money right there and then.

“There is also a proven history of the developer that prospective customers can look into, to make sure the game is in active development, and that the people they are paying are trust-worthy and capable.

“Furthermore it’s a lot more tempting to dive in if all your friends are already playing, regardless of how you may feel about it in principle. I can only imagine the popularity of alpha-funding growing as the popularity of Kickstarter game funding begins to wane.”

We’ve seen a rising number of alpha-funded games reaching prominence, most famously Notch’s Minecraft and recently Introversion’s Prison Architect to name a few.

What do you make of Kickstarter? Is the bubble ready to pop? Is alpha funding more viable? Let us know what you think below.

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13 Comments

  1. GrimRita

    With so many high profile projects hitting and exceeding their funding goals, it’s hard to see how this chap is right. Of course, there will be a time and place but right now, I can’t see kickstarter going anywhere soon, especially when the big ticket items are published.

    I’m considering using KS for a project I have been working on and to take it to the next level would probably use KS.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. TheWulf

    That’s a little silly.

    Bubbles have burst in the past but that’s in part due to their model, the only kind of bubble that can/has burst in regards to Kickstarter is developers thinking they can make millions with a project, so they set unrealistically high goals and make their games more ambitious than they should be.

    That some projects don’t understand pacing isn’t indicative of a failure of Kickstarter on any level, it’s just that some projects don’t understand pacing. They don’t get that it’s better to get the core game finished, and then to run later Kickstarter campaigns for DLC, rather than trying to create a massive game from the outset.

    And if you’re making all sorts of promises that you can’t keep, then you’re also going to have a problem because people will have expectations of exactly what you’ve promised them. Thus, keeping your promises on a very small, very achievable scale is necessary. Then, once again, your project can be expanded at a later date.

    An example of a successful Kickstarter is Lifeless Planet, which is a small scale exploration/puzzle game with a good story. A lot of it has already been completed, and the developer has had much to show in the way of playable demos and trailers. He’s also taking feedback from the players with every demo he creates, which is brilliant.

    However, many games have absolutely nothing to show for their projects yet, and some have been around much longer than Lifeless Planet. They’re failing to deliver because their projects were too ambitious, and it’s taking them longer and more money to produce those games than they thought.

    So what we see happening is that people are naturally becoming wary of ambitious projects, choosing instead to put their money down on either reasonably achievable ones, or ones that have a certain amount completed already (such as a playable demo). Those tend to be successes no matter what, and they continue to be.

    It’s all about scale. Sometimes you need to cut back.

    The reason Project Zomboid wouldn’t do well on Kickstarter is, quite frankly, it’s a bit of a no-show game when it comes to actually being a finished product. It’s a game that was too ambitious and too giant for its own good. They made too many promises and they created something that was bigger than them and they’re having a hard time dealing with that. If people can “smell” anything, it’s a lack of success and poor project management. And I genuinely feel that Zomboid does suffer from that.

    So Kickstarter is just fine. Small, achievable projects will succeed, projects with good demos will succeed, and giant, ridiculously ambitious projects which make impossible promises will be seen right through by everyone.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. TheWulf

    @1

    Yeah, exactly. I don’t think it’s that Kickstarter is going to fail, I think it’s more that they know full well that their ow project would be doomed to failure on Kickstarter, but they can’t exactly say that.

    Kickstarter has just evolved to a point that people know what to look for, and Project Zomboid falls under the overly ambitious category where you’d be worried to put any money down on it. I think it’s more just wise consumerism and that’s pretty great. I just wish people outside of Kickstarter would exercise wise consumerism.

    That said, I wish you well with your project!

    #3 2 years ago
  4. benjymous

    @Dave Cook

    That’s Chris SIMPSON.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @4 Cheers, bloody sleep deprivation

    #5 2 years ago
  6. labrooks

    #6 2 years ago
  7. lemmy101

    Hey, I just thought I’d post a comment here since this small part of my post has square focus in this article, I’m worried it may sound a little ‘boo kickstarter’ in isolation. I should add that I don’t think it’ll be the case that projects will no longer get funded on kickstarter.

    More that prior to now, the potential for funding on kickstarter seemed somewhat of a ‘gold mine’ to many. By a bubble popping I mean more that the gold rush has ended, not kickstarter itself.

    Just there’s a certain amount of time in anything like this before cynicism sets in and the difficulty of getting funded, and it’s like we’ve recently come full circle with the company that brought all the attention on Kickstarter for game funding being on the receiving end of some substantial venom (not that I particularly agree with the venom in this particular case), rising expectations of what should be available to potential backers and so on.

    This is only going to get more difficult as time goes on, and at least from what I’ve noticed, Kickstarters are already starting to offer alpha access with their Kickstarters more and more and people are increasingly coming into them from a more negative point of view from the off.

    Just in short, I’m not down on Kickstarter, and any views expressed were ones out of disappointment, not ‘neh neh alpha-funding is better! :P’

    and we have never ever, once, even considered doing one ourselves (which would be distinctly money-grubby of us considering we’re doing ok without) Kickstarter should be solely for people who need Kickstarting, not topping up their moneys on a 2 year old alpha game.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. absolutezero

    Kickstarter outside of Video Games is a glorious melting pot of insane ideas and genius innovations. Unfortunately for us inside the Video Game section is a bunch of old ideas dressed up in new clothes.

    Not a developer with a history, even if the recent past is filled with rubbish I should add, then theres a good chance that your game is going to be a success. As long as its CRPG or Adventure game of course. Don’t get too excited.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dave Cook

    @7 Hey thanks for that extra insight man :D I wasn’t trying to over-blow the Kickstarter angle in the piece, so apologies if it sounded too strong. I’ll soften it a bit just now. Many thanks for your input.

    Dave

    #9 2 years ago
  10. lemmy101

    Oh it’s cool :) I just wanted to clarify my position a little more, thanks for posting it!

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Dave Cook

    @10 Any time man :)

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Beta

    The problem is, people coming on and expecting to make millions in pledges and be an instant success.

    Kickstarter is ideally suited towards small businesses with a good idea and a realistic goal. Not everyone is going to have Double Fine level success (although look how it’s working out for them.. They were too ambitious)

    The fact of the matter is Kickstarter is as strong as ever, you just have to work harder to get people’s money.

    I’m still an active Kickstarter backer and every project I’ve backed has exceeded it’s goal.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. GrimRita

    As the Shadowrun guys have said – Kickstarter allows developers to actually be creative again, without the worry of a publisher ‘dumbing down’ their original idea.

    Personally, I think its fantastic and I can’t wait to pitch my idea up there but getting the marketing etc right is going to be key. I expect a dollar from everyone ;)

    #13 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]