KICKSTARTED IN THE HEAD – Crowdsourcing and the Future of Games
Many of you were sitting waiting for hours in an activation queue for your always-on DRM EA-Maxis lovechild to actually launch the singleplayer mode, mainly because it was for your own benefit. They’re helping! They did that for you, America! I always love it when a game developer waters down a game series, strips out a bunch of fun game mechanics (like subways), and then treats me like I’m a criminal for wanting to give them $60, or you know, play the actual game.
The most messed up part of this debacle is that Maxis are amazing developers. SPORE was kind of a wet fart, but it was an interesting failure and didn’t leave too much of a stain. But this crap is seriously starting to get old.
At the same time EA was scrambling to fix the problem (UPDATE: they still haven’t), a small developer called inXile Entertainent launched a Kickstarter campaign for a spiritual sequel to a 1999 isometric RPG called PLANESCAPE: TORMENT. The game is called TORMENT: TIDES OF NUMENERA, and guess what? As of the publication of this article, it’s raised $2.3 million on Kickstarter without a single publisher and traditional investor, meeting its original goal of $900,000 in less that SEVEN HOURS. In the era of an emerging, and totally boring, console war between Sony and Microsoft for the next generation of dull, brown corridor shooters, the Internet development model is evolving in a way eerily reminiscent of Skynet. It’s like it knows what people want before they do, and presents them delicious, seductive games on a silver platter to the right audience at the right time.
For better or worse, crowdsourcing, with Kickstarter in particular with its multi-million dollar success stories, has fundamentally changed the landscape of independent games development. There’s still going to be the separate spheres of how games get made, from the triple-A publishers to the basement developers. The crowdsourced game has emerged as a viable, powerful, and permanent institution for industry veterans and beginners alike.
But how did we get here?
In A.D. 2011, ennui was beginning…
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