Friday, February 10, 2012

Did Double Fine Kick Started a Revolution?

This is the news everyone is talking about since yesterday. The highly successful fund rising made by famed studio Double Fine of legendary game creator Tim Schafer. The studio was able to rise more than 1 million dollars in 24 hours, a feat in itself. This money will be used to make a point-and-click adventure game (think Day of the Tentacle or, if you are younger, Back to the Future - The Game). Many are already saying how Double Fine started a revolution in the way games are funded. In my opinion, not quite.

Today, games are usually funded by the publishers. The developers shows them what they want to do and if the publisher feels the game can be successful, they give the money to developers, as an investment, in hope not only to see the money back but to profit from the venture. Of course, since they are the ones risking the money, publishers usually watch very closely the development and not rarely interfere in it. So, for a studio, it is a dream not having to submit to the publisher's will while making the game.

So, of course, Double Fine can do a game as they want to since they have no strings attached in that money. But not everyone can pull this trick. Schafer's fame and previous record of good games is greatly responsible for this success. If a unknown developer tried it, it would hardly garner enough attention and expectation to get something close those values. If I started to try to fund a PVC game, I doubt I would be able to rise a dime.

So, the fund rising would work greatly for well known names like Schafer. Maybe Suda 51 or Hideo Kojima could do the same trick.Or if some great franchise with a loyal fanbase, like Chrono Trigger or Megaman is promised. But those are very well know names in this industry, with a great record of great games under their belts. Beginners would hardly do the same.

Also, big franchises would never pull this out. If Activision tried to do a fund rising for the next Call of Duty, everybody would laugh. probably very, very few would contribute in it. And also, the money Double Fine rose is hardly that much money for a game complex as an FPS.

A point-and-click adventure is hardly a money consuming genre, with need of dozens of programmers. It is a relatively cheap genre to make. But if someone tried to do a game with the technical scope of, let's say, Skyrim, that money would barely be enough to do a month of developing.

In the end, I think Double Fine success must be seem as what it is. A victory for Double Fine and just for Double Fine. It will not revolutionize the industry at short term. I can't even see a change in the long term. I am happy for Double Fine and curious to see what game will come out of this. But this is not something who will become common place in the industry.

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