Following in the footsteps of Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo everyone and their mother are taking to Kickstarter to get their projects funded. The trouble now is quite a few of these projects are flooding in as companies have seen their success and started dipping their toes in to test the water, and this has lead to some posting up of some less than impressive Kickstarter pages.
One such example is MonkeyPaw and GaijinWork's "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter page. At the moment the page is at 387 backers, $35,819 pledged of the $500,000 total, and has 28 days left to go. I'm no fortune teller but something tells me that instead of snowballing in popularity there is going to be a sharp drop off in backers. Here's why I think this will be the case:
-They didn't learn from other Developers and their Kickstarter mistakes
I am referring to the last high profile project featured in gaming news which was Serellan LLC who pitched their hardcore tactical shooter project. The problem began when the team hit $70,000 and the backer numbers started to drop off.
Rather than admit defeat Serellan LLC re-evaluated their pitch. Christian Allen the spokesperson for the project then got in touch with Kotaku and was given an opportunity to talk to the gaming masses by posting up an article. The article posted was titled "I messed up my videogame Kickstarter. Now, I'm fixing it."
In the article he pointed out three primary points where he thinks they went wrong:
1. Lack of instant name recognition that Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo have.
2. The video wasn't exciting or high quality enough and simply not up to standard.
3. They were too vague, lacked assets to show, didn't differentiate themselves from competition and "the name SUCKED"
In response to these points they got a video production company to work on their pitch video, they hired the actor Matt Corboy to help promote , they commissioned concept art by Charles Guan, they got music produced by Rich Douglas, and they created a new logo for the game and renamed it "Takedown". Up to that point I had been on the fence about backing the project but this honest effort to turn it around prompted me to back the project.
Now this change happened a day or two before the "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter went up. Looking at their page it is easy to see the points Christian Allen prioritised for the Serellan LLC project also apply to this project.
As far as I can see there is no spokesperson for this project, the only name dropped is Victor Ireland who started up Gaijinworks and no offense to Victor but unless you are a Shigeru Miyamoto the typical gamer won't always know who you are. Since this is all about localisation of "Class of Heroes II" and future Jrpgs if successful why not hire a prominent voice actor or voice actress? maybe Ali Hillis the voice of FFXIII's Lightning? it could boost the popularity of this project by quite a bit.
Another point is currently the Kickstarter page has no video at all to summarise their project or grip any potential backer. There is however a summary, recently added, which gets to the point of the matter: They want to create a better physical deluxe pack and better localisation for Class of Heroes II. I still don't think this does enough to pull people in. It certainly didn't get me excited to back this project.
Now in terms of how vague it is, it was certainly vague at the beginning. It began with a speech about how there was always a demand for more Jrpgs and the good old days of the Jrpg market. That sounds great but what is the project about? Luckily as I mentioned above they have just rectified the vague intro now with a short and to the point summary at the beginning which is clear for backers what their money is for.
Now looking through projects I have backed, Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, The Banner Saga, Takedown, they have all had a fairly decent reward structure. I usually donate at the $15-$30 mark where I know I will get maybe the first part of the game or even the entire game for the money I am pledging. In the case of the "Class of Heroes II" Kickstarter you have to pledge at least $59 to even get the game. So what do you get in the tiers below that?
-$5 - A thank you email and your name will make it into the game code (the actual code, not the credits where people will see it.)
-$10 - A Class of Heroes II themed thank you letter and your name in the game code.
-$20 - Previous reward and a limited edition game poster and downloadable soundtrack.
Then it goes straight to the $59 pledge where you get the previous rewards and actually get the game and the physical deluxe pack, plus a commemorative bronze lapel pin. I think you can guess where most of the backers are.
There are a few backers at the lower tiers but I can't understand why a lower tier donation would be appealing at all to anyone. You are paying to help localise and bring into existence a deluxe pack that you will have to go out and buy or maybe you won't buy it, and you get a pat on the back for your money. MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks have certainly tried to make it appealing with their inspiring talk of the golden age of Jrpgs and showing the market Jrpgs are still in demand, but gamers very rarely will support anything out of the goodness of their own heart even if it benefits them in the long run to have better localisation standards.
-Limited platforms and region locking
The actual game will be coming out on PSP, and if you think that isn't limiting enough, it is also only playable on PSPs that play North American games. So that means no PS3 version and no PC version even though Steam have thrown open the doors to Jrpgs. The only other option is through PS Vita and its backwards compatibility downloads but to even get the downloadable version of the game you have to pledge $100 or above.
I'm not privy to what goes on beyond closed doors at MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks so maybe they have considered it, but for this to really take off I think having the game on as many platforms as possible in a downloadable form would make sense and be a great way to actually get people interested.
I mentioned the goal before, but just to refresh you: MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks are looking for $500,000 for a niche game localisation. I'm not an expert or an analyst but I just can't imagine the project hitting that goal.
Even Serellan LLC and their Takedown project which pitched a tactical shooter had a more realistic and modest goal of $200,000 and those guys are struggling to even reach that goal with maybe 3 days to go. Their Class of Heroes II introduction on the golden age of Jrpgs is inspiring but the entire Jrpg fan base are not going to get behind it, not even all the Jrpg fan base who have a PSP are going to get behind it.
The previous projects that I mentioned all started off very quickly and had a large percentage of funds at the beginning some meeting their goal and surpassing it easily and some who got maybe close to 50% and are working hard for the rest of the funds for the remainder of time. At the moment Class of Heroes II has $35,819 of $500,000 which is a slow start for a very large goal.
Despite all my criticism, I do wish MonkeyPaw and GaijinWorks the best of luck and I hope they prove my amateur predictions wrong. Unfortunately I just can't see this project building steam.