Kickstarter has been good to Chris Avellone. The creative director of Obsidian Entertainment recently celebrated as Project Eternity cleared $4.1 million raised, and he’s also aiding with the design of Wasteland II, which hit almost $3 million in April. Despite the early successes, he told GamesIndustry International in an interview published today that he worries about “Kickstarter exhaustion.”
“[T]here’s the danger of when the first big failure comes out on Kickstarter, I think people will be even more hesitant about donating,” Avellone said. “It will be beyond exhaustion level; it will be ‘I’m not sure this process is going to pan out.’ I feel like Kickstarter is still in its infancy when it comes to the process; I feel like we’re in the honeymoon phase.”
Avellone said it goes the other way, too: when the first successful Kickstarter game releases, it may encourage backers to give even more. Whichever direction the crowdfunding service goes, he said it’s been tremendously helpful for developers, and not just monetarily. He said inXile Entertainment quickly discovered its Kickstarter backers were ambivalent toward social elements and voice acting in Wasteland II thanks to the transparent design process.
“They don’t care about that stuff, and if you know that in the first thirty days, you save so much time and so much resource you would otherwise just be pissing away,” Avellone said.
Though Kickstarter has been ballyhooed as an end to publisher dominance over the gaming industry, Avellone thinks they’re more like two separate, interacting markets.
“We’re not even really competing per se. They always have the voice-overs and the bells and whistles, like you have to push the physics engine and the art engine with all of their stuff, because they’re targeting a much different audience than the small selected target that we’re doing with our games. The Wasteland II target isn’t necessarily the same thing as the Call of Duty target, obviously, and there’s always going to be Call of Duty games funded by publishers.”