For those of you that haven't heard over the last few days Tim Schafer's studio Double Fine Productions decided to use Kick Starter to fund a new "classic point-and-click adventure utilizing modern touch technology." As of this writing there were over 25,000 donations totaling more than $1,000,000 with over 30 days left to donate.
However this is where my point comes in. I think Double Fine Productions using Kick Starter is a BAD THING!
Please before you grab your pitchforks and torches bear with me for a minute. Why are the customers now funding the games we want to play? Isn't that what buying the games is supposed to do? I understand that companies need money to work on projects and they need an initial investment to begin work. That is where a publisher comes in. Normally a publisher takes the risk and in doing so sets up milestones for the developer, paid structure based on said milestones, and in doing creates a sense of urgency for the developer to get the product finished.
Normally when a publisher invests in the game they get something out of it. Either its IP control or at the very least they get the profits from the sales. With Kick Starter everyone giving money is giving a donation not investing. The only reward you will see is the game being made at which point you have to pay more money to buy it. If this game is funded completely from donations then the game should be free. Now before anyone says "games take more than "X" amount of money to make" think about what they are making.
According to the Kick Starter page, the game will be in development with a small team over a six-to-eight month period. The game is described as "a classic point-and-click adventure utilizing modern touch technology." So it is safe to assume it is going to be an iOS or tablet based game. This is not going to be Star Wars TOR or Call of Duty in cost to develop.
My other main issue is the "who" part of this argument. I always felt like Kick Starter was a way for smaller studios and people who didn't have the resources to find a way to fund a project. Double Fine has roughly 50 employees and it feels not like they "couldn't" get the funding but more that Tim Schafer doesn't want to deal with the hassles of publishers. (Not that I blame him for that.) Tim Schafer has a name that can get publishing deals done and could secure funding when needed. I think that they are playing off of the fans that would love a new adventure game and that are still stuck in the past reliving memories of Day of the Tentacle and Escape From Monkey Island.
Lastly think of the future. I worry that other studios that may not need the service start using it and those smaller independent projects might have no way to get funded. We could see many of the more unique and fun games that have come out recently fade away.
You may now pick up your pitchforks.