One reason so many developers have turned to crowdfunding is to escape publishers, but what if you want a publisher? What if you secretly crave their help and love and approval? Square Enix is wading into the crowdfunding waters with a new program named Collective, which also has hints of Steam Greenlight.
Developers can submit ideas to the Square Enix Collective for members of the gaming public to gawp at for 28 days. If an idea's popular enough, Squeenix will step in to make sure the dev is able to make it then launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Why would anyone want this? Well, it's also teasing the possibility of getting to make new games using some older Eidos IPs.
Attempting to lure devs in on the Collective website, the publisher says they will get to "showcase your project pitches to a dedicated, core gaming community and get feedback on your plans," and "Talk directly to the people who could be the ones to fund or buy your game, and start building momentum behind your game idea." The public feedback could conceivably be replaced by simply thinking carefully before launching a campaign, mind.
Collective community head Phil Elliott told Gamasutra that it wants developers "to walk away with the majority of the sales revenue, and we want to reinvest any profits back into the platform."
One strength of the Collective is that Square Enix will carefully vet pitches to ensure the developer can deliver on their pitch, which is supposedly to make potential backers feel more confident. However, well, several years of the Kickstarter boom have clearly shown that people will back almost anything as long as it sounds nice.
Publishers certainly have a lot of experience in areas that developers might not be so good with, but devs can bring them in for these specific tasks anyway. Wasteland 2 developer inXile brought in publisher Deep Silver to help with boxed copies, physical backer rewards, and localisation, for example.
So why get involved? Well, the Square Enix name does carry a certain prestige, it has oodles of experience in launching games, the Greenlight-like step would build hype pre-crowdfunding, and the opportunity to work with those mystery Eidos IPs is a little tempting. If Squeenix thinks a developer's pitch would fit with of those idle franchises, which will be revealed in November, it may let them use it.