MechWarrior Online didn’t go down the Kickstarter route, but it did leverage crowdfunding to ensure Piranha could deliver a higher quality product.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Infinite Game Publishing parent company boss Nick Foster said that MechWarrior Online was traditionally funded at first, but then used crowdfunding to make up any shortfalls.
“We’ve raised minimal investment funds to build a viable product for each of our games. We then launch it [in beta] and use that minimum viable product to start generating an income stream,” he said.
“We keep a very close partnership with our developers and use that income to reinvest in the game, build out the features that the users want, and head into a period of ongoing development. New content, new features.
“The product will be a lot better for players because of the crowdfunding. It’s allowed us to maintain a higher level of ongoing development in the product, than if we were waiting for momentum to build immediately after going live. In the next few months, we’ll be able to release a lot more features.”
Foster said this business model allows the game to go live even with a modest initial investment, but still build momentum towards a longer tail than a traditional straight-to-retail release.
Of course, it’s not something every game could so – MechWarrior has an enormous, eager fanbase.
“There are at least 14 million fans of the franchise in North America. That helps. You get press,” Foster noted.
“People understand right away what they should expect the game to be. You have your players before you start generating revenue.”
MechWarrior Online raised over $5 million through the sale of Founder’s packages. Of the more than 70,000 sold, 35% were at the $30 level, 30% at the $60 tier, and the remainder shelled out $120. Its open beta has begun.