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UK devs on Kickstarter: Pitching to crowdfunders just like pitching to publishers, says Ste Pickford

Zee-3 on the industry's deja vu
UK devs on Kickstarter: Pitching to crowdfunders just like pitching to publishers, says Ste Pickford
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With Kickstarter finally giving the green light to projects based in the UK, we decided to get in touch with British-based studios for their take on how the crowdfunding tool may impact the dev scene on these shores.

Next up: Zee-3 co-founder Ste Pickford.

"We're a bit ambivalent about Kickstarter at the moment, and haven't quite decided whether or not to try and use it to help fund one of our projects," Pickford told us via email.

"Opening it up to the UK is undoubtedly a good thing though."

It's Pickford's belief that Kickstarter appears most useful for developers with an existing reputation and fanbase something previously suggested by other developers we've spoken to or people making traditional or especially niche releases, like RPGS or roguelikes.

The irony

"Ironically, these are still often the sort of games that can get publisher funding as well," added Pickford.

"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.

"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.2

The irony for Pickford, he suggested, is that these are "exactly the kinds of games we tend to make!"

Just like old times

"One of the reasons we went indie was that it was becoming very difficult to secure funding from publishers when presenting original R&D concepts," added Pickford.

"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.

"When you're designing something original you can't present that kind of information at the beginning, as it's going to take 90 percent of the development time to actually work out what the game will be and what it will look like."

Pickford said going the crowdfunding route has the potential to serve up the same problems, forcing developers to explain in advance how the game will look and work, making it "not so different to pitching to publishers, really."

Another option

Nevertheless, Pickford believes Kickstarter is undoubtedly a good thing and serves as "another option for many devs."

"I'm wary of believing that it will aid innovation and originality," he concluded.

"I think, like Valve's Greenlight, there's a danger that it will subtly encourage developers to be conservative and pitch familiar, obvious, genre-based concepts, to ensure success, just like in the old publisher system."