Linux Gaming News

Kickstarting an idea: “Wasteland 2″ approaching $2 million

Who needs investors who take a piece of ownership when there are believers in love with an idea?

Speaking directly to fans of the video game art form, Brian Fargo pokes fun at the state of the industry in a five-minute-and-thirty-four-second-video pitching a sequel to a post-apocalyptic computer game he made in the late ’80s called “Wasteland.” In the video he’s seen pitching the idea to a child executive at a fictional game company who is only familiar with “Angry Birds.”

The kid asks when the original came out and Fargo answers 1988.

“I’m pretty sure my mom graduated high school that year,” the kid says.

Later the video turns serious and he lays out his plan for the sequel, how it will play and introduces the team he has on board to make it.

“I’m hoping this sort of fan funding brings back a genre of product that I love to play and I love to make,” he says.

This is a Kickstarter pitch, a rapidly growing form of patronage that crowd-funds ideas into reality. The Kickstarter website has seen $175 million pledged by visitors to ideas in technology products and the various arts. The creators pitching their ideas on Kickstarter use that money to bring their product to market.

Fargo’s sequel — to be built by his company, Newport Beach-based game developer inXile Entertainment — has blown away its original goal of $900,000 with just under two weeks of fund-raising left. The “Wasteland 2” project is already one of the most highly funded projects on the three-year-old Kickstarter site and it’s approaching $2 million in funding backed by nearly 40,000 people.

“I’ve never had more pressure to deliver a game in my life. There’s no retailer in the way, and there’s no publisher in the way,” Fargo said. “I’m just standing here eye to eye with my fans.”

Last year Patrick O’Neill of Huntington Beach used Kickstarter to raise $68,000 for the Olloclip, a 3-in-1 lens system that clips around the corner of the iPhone for a wider range of shots. The fund-raising allowed him to avoid having to find an investor. It’s now sold in Apple Stores worldwide.

Recent college graduate and Laguna Niguel resident Jeremy Canterbury set a goal of $7,500 for the initial production run of an inexpensive camera dolly he plans to sell for $70. There’s still a month of fund-raising left, and his project has exceeded his goal raising in excess of $10,000 from just under 100 backers.

Creators come to Kickstarter with a project and a funding goal, pitch their idea in a video, provide a summary of the project and its goals and then promote it across the social corridors of the Web.

Backers come to support a project, get access to updates about its creation and receive rewards promised by the project creators for varying levels of support. A $15 pledge to “Wasteland 2,” for example, delivers a copy of the game when it is estimated to be done in October 2013 and rewards step up in increments to more than $10,000 which includes a private party and other goodies, including “a shrine erected in your honor” in the game itself.

Fewer than half of the projects on Kickstarter reach their funding goals; they are funded on an all-or-nothing basis. In other words, money isn’t charged to backers until the fund-raising deadline passes and the project meets its goal. Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut of the funded projects and Amazon, which processes the payments, takes a 3 percent to 5 percent cut as well. So at least 90 percent of the money pledged goes to the people who posted the project.

“Kickstarter is a way to shorten the distance between the artist and the audience,” said Justin Kazmark, a spokesman for the company. “It was founded on the idea that there’s value in the world in ideas beyond those which make money.”