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Indie developers cool on Kickstarter's kick-off in UK

A playground for the big boys?

Indie developers cool on Kickstarter's kick-off in UK
Indie developers are unsure as to whether Kickstarter's launch in the UK will have a big impact, pointing to the increasing prevalence of well known, US-based outfits taking to the crowdfunding platform.

That's based on a sweep of British studios conducted by PocketGamer.biz, with many developers welcoming the addition of a new way to fund projects without personally committing to the platform.

Pixel perfect?

According to Albino Pixel co-founder and technical director Dave Allanson, Kickstarter's run to date has suggested it isn't a platform primarily designed to aid indies.

"I think it is a useful tool if you already have a following like Tim Schafer or you're wanting to bring back a cult IP, but I don't think it will be a revolution for the UK market," said Allanson.

"There are only so many projects that people can fund, especially as you wont see anything for a long while in a lot of cases."

Indeed, in his view, it's almost too early to judge Kickstarter's suitability. Its real test will come when "failed or misjudged projects" begin to stack up, as they inevitably will.

"As the number of projects and countries Kickstarter is available in increases the likelihood of this happening is growing."

Original thoughts

"I think a potential drawback of the system is that the games that are going to be successful will largely be those that have a heritage that backers know," added Lady Shotgun design director Anna Marsh.

"I think something that's totally original and new will have just as hard a time raising funds this way as via a standard publishing route."

Likewise, while Zee-3's Ste Pickford welcomed Kickstarter's UK launch, he's equally unsure it'll become the main way indie projects will make it to market.

"I know the point-and-click genre was out of fashion, so Kickstarter was a success for Double Fine, but I think that was an anomaly rather than indicative of a trend," added Pickford.

"I'm not sure crowdfunding via Kickstarter is going to work well with genuinely original games, where there's gameplay R&D going on as part of the development, as it's very difficult to pitch R&D projects with pretty graphics up front."

More interestingly, Pickford also suggested taking to Kickstarter may, for many, prove not to be so different to the processes they're trying to get away from.

"What publishers want to know from the beginning is exactly what the game will be, and see exactly what it will look like - the dreaded vertical slice," he added, suggesting potential crowdfunders want to know the exact same things, which means promoting a Kickstarter campaign is a remarkably similar process to pitching to publishers.

Money matters

According to onimobi founder Dave Mitchell, the amount of money required to promote a Kickstarter campaign means it might be wiser to sack off any attempt to crowdfund and "spend all that marketing effort to sell the game when it's released" instead.

"Putting up a project on Kickstarter is easy enough, but you need to drive traffic to your project - it isn't magically created by setting up on Kickstarter," he added.

"Really successful Kickstarter projects have often been well known companies or brands, and they've been able to drive traffic by the power of their existing audience."

Of all the developers we spoke to, most said they would consider using Kickstarter if the right project came along, but – like Andrew Smith of Spilt Milk Studios – many now understand what a "huge undertaking" crowdfunding actually is.

"I think it is a viable tool for any dev with a strong IP, truly innovative and appealing game idea, or who wants a proven - and safe in the minds of the fans - platform through which to offer something a lite bit different," added Smith.

"It'd be a shame if the big companies wrestled their way in, but it could happen."
You can read the take of York-based Revolution Studios, which has already utilised Kickstarter to fund the development of Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse, here.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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David Vallejo
Well this is an interesting article to read today; considering I just started my Kickstarter today(plug for iMech Online's Kickstarter http://kck.st/SWBFrP). As an indie developer, I hope its not true that this is only for the big guys. Considering that when you try to get funding from angels or publishers it all about who you are and where you have worked. My game is almost complete and the money is for servers, content and some small marketing. So the money will help to make the game better, so there is no worry about vaporware or that since we are not famous people we can't deliver. The game is a real game so I hope its a bit different and that makes people interested. I look forward to any follow up articles that you write about this subject because its hard as an indie to get funding to make your game cool. Well I guess I will know in 30 days if it is true that its only for the big guys or if there is hope for us indies.