With the gaming scene seemingly moving on from the traditional platformer to pew pew, veterans responsible for Banjo Kazooie think it's time to bring the humble platformer back.
Making a game isn't exactly an easy feat. Even when you have all the talent in the world, you still need what moves it: money. Where does one get cash for projects? The usual business act of getting loans is a given, but now crowd funding has made getting that extra dollar more accessible than ever before. Utilizing Kickstarter, Playtonic has managed to raise over 2.6million dollars thus far which is pretty amazing.
Raising money doesn't always equate to a successful project, ask Tim Schafer how that turned out. Scrolling down to the FAQ on Playtonic's Kickstarter, you'll notice a couple of questions concerning the budget. The one we'll be focusing on concerns the budget not being high enough.
Isn’t £175k a little cheap for the game you’re promising?Gamers on Twitter have been pointing out a couple of pieces written by Kotaku (updated title) and Polygon respectively. Specifically, their apparent lack of in depth research. Kotaku's Patrick Klepek responded to Yooka Laylee fans complaints with the following amendment to the article that implied Playtonic is lying about their budget:
Indeed it is, but that figure alone doesn’t give you the whole picture. We’ve already put a plan in place using personal finances to get the game done no matter what happens, however this extra money can be used by us to hire a few more talented people, get the game done sooner and allow us to commit to more features and platforms too.
As stretch goals are reached you can see exactly what additional extras that money unlocks and we’ll be transparent with our development not just because it shows fans they can trust us, but we’re so excited to be developing the game and can’t wait to share the journey with them too!
Update (4:50 p.m.): Hey, everyone! The headline for Worth Reading has been changed. How come? Previously, it was written as “Some Kickstarters Are Lying About Game Budgets,” which echoed a line in my piece about how some Kickstarters are “lying” about their budgets. My language was too blunt and, in an attempt to shorthand an article I was highlighting, did a disservice to the Kickstarters whose budgets were being described. While some Kickstarters may be misleading people about their budgets, the ones highlighted in the article I was linking to and referenced in our own article here, have explained to potential backers that the amount of money they’re asking for doesn’t constitute a full budget for their game. Some backers may not realize this, but the information, to some extent, is there. That makes these Kickstarters and their approach worth writing about, and it makes the phenomenon of asking backers for significantly less money than the cost of development worthy of discussion, but it doesn’t constitute lying. I apologize for my mischaracterization.The continuous use of the Yooka Laylee header image is either bold or completely disrespectful given the original implication. With 20+ days left as of this write up, Playtonic has more than exceeded their original goal of £175k (275.5kUSD) - monetary funding wasn't the issue, deceptive journalism was. Even if you do some edits, the Internet has this habit of archiving everything. For any amount of people who read an article before it was updated, that is the number of people you've lied to. Considering the topic, that's a bit ironic. To be fair, Patrick did go above and beyond a simple title change. Have to give credit where it's due.
The reason this is a big deal is that these large sites can potentially deliver a lot of misinformation from a single click due to high traffic. Not only was this dishonest for readers, but it's also blasphemous to Playtonic and any other game studio reputations. For Playtonic, this is a labor of love. Factor in funding in excess and we may see another success story. Needless to say, this is good news for gamers who grew up during the N64 era when Rare was at its peak.
An important thing to keep in mind is that anything can happen within a Kickstarter campaign, an interview with Corey and Lori Cole of Transolar Games confirms this. Adding another layer of complexity, sometimes a Kickstarter may be used to raise money for specific goals such as hiring a team of artists. Not every project involving game development had Kickstarter in mind for 100% funding of their entire project. Knowing this is crucial in understanding how Kickstarter is being used in various ways.
When your goal is to create a brand new game for the market, it's unrealistic to expect services like Kickstarter to be a guarantee. There's still hard work which requires planning; you almost have to have a backup plan in case you don't meet your goal. It's a good idea to have a break down list to keep track - even more so when you wish to be as transparent as possible with your supporters. In case there is an excess of donations, this is when you may have fun with stretch goals, but only when everything else is accounted for.
If there is any take away, it's this: always do your basic research first. When doing editorial pieces, you have to go through an editor first before your piece gets published. Sans urgent news that needs posting ASAP, this is standard practice. What that means is that someone had to okay this pieces which doesn't inspire very much confidence in a news/media outlet. Only time will tell what becomes of Playtonic's Yooka Laylee, but at least wait for the final figures before accusing a game studio of fleecing their fans.
I've read Patrick's article and do see his perspective of a Kickstarter budget vs the "real" one. Still doesn't justify a sensationalist headline - at least he changed it. Game development takes some serious planning and a budget to make dreams happen. Never judge based off a Kickstarter before looking at the whole picture. Those are my thoughts, I'd love to hear yours down below!
Update: So uhh... somehow we missed that it's called Playtonic and not Playtronic and published it with Playtronic littered everywhere. We have fixed that in all cases aside from the URL which we can't fix without breaking links. We offer our apologies for this mistake and thanks to everyone who pointed it out.