Project Eternity campaign pulls in more than $4.1 million

The Project Eternity Kickstarter came to a close yesterday, collecting more than $3.98 million, making it the crowd-funding site's most successful videogame project. Add to that the more than $140,000 in PayPal contributions, and Obsidian Entertainment blew past all its stretch goals with more than $4.1 million.

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The Project Eternity Kickstarter came to a close yesterday, collecting more than $3.98 million, making it the crowd-funding site's most successful videogame project. Add to that the more than $140,000 in PayPal contributions, and Obsidian Entertainment blew past all its stretch goals with more than $4.1 million.

With the final tally and more than 74,000 backers (including PayPal), Obsidian has promised Barbarian, Cipher, Chanter and Paladin classes, two big cities, a player house and stronghold, lots of races and extra companions, Mac and Linux support, crafting and enchanting, a 13-level mega-dungeon, and plenty more. And since they hit $4 million, it appears Chris Avellone will be forced to play Arcanum.

If you missed contributing to Kickstarter, Obsidian has said the PayPal option is still open, but not for much longer. Development is expected to go well into 2014, but Obsidian has already released a screenshot to tease fans about what they can expect.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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    October 17, 2012 8:15 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Project Eternity campaign pulls in more than $4.1 million.

    The Project Eternity Kickstarter came to a close yesterday, collecting more than $3.98 million, making it the crowd-funding site's most successful videogame project. Add to that the more than $140,000 in PayPal contributions, and Obsidian Entertainment blew past all its stretch goals with more than $4.1 million.

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      October 17, 2012 8:52 AM

      Now the waiting game. I'm hoping for money well spent here, but I'm sure I'll be pleased, since the old school Infinity Engine RPGs were pretty much the ONLY games I played before I went to college. I still bust em out every now and then. The nostalgia factor is high for me.

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      October 17, 2012 10:36 AM

      Warning: MBA geekness speak here...

      I'm really curious how all of this kickstarter funding translates into profit for a company. Subjectively it's money gathered to fund the development of a product (game). So, it is basically seed money or operating capital. It's not revenue. Can they count the games they give out to backers as sales? I don't think so, but I'm out of the GAAP world too long to know for sure. Even if they could count it as a unit sale, what would the revenue be since they took the money as earmarked for operating capital?

      74k backers translates into 74k plus lost sales since we all get 1 or more copies of the final product.

      If you don't have the cash to fund your own development, you usually get an advance from a publisher or borrow the money. The advance goes against future sales and it's the publisher banking on the success of the game. Borrowing money means you have to pay it back with interest. I don't believe that's done very much these days, although I guess the advance from a publisher is kind of loan but the payments are mitigated from the game sales with the interest pre-buried in the total reclaimed sales figure. BUT, kickstarter funding doesn't fit any of that. They don't have to pay it back to us except in the form of the stuff we're promised for being a backer. No interest payment. No commitment to sales potential.

      So, I guess my point is they get to take this $4.1 million, and just sink it into the game. Period. In the finance world, this is probably viewed as a Gift since there are no financial or monetary strings attached (again, outside of the promised goods some which do have a physical cost). The game could make no sales at all and it wouldn't technically be a financial failure since they don't have to pay the $4.1 million back to anyone. That's just such an odd situation from a finance pov.

      Then, does $4.1 million from 74k backers, @ roughly $55 per backer, translate into a game with the potential for large sales to attract a publisher? Or, since this is an older genre is this an expression of the limit of peak of game sales? All speculation and is part of the reason why they chose to do kickstarter to mitigate the potential loss.

      You can guarantee the entire industry is watching this like to a hawk to see how it plays out. The finance guys especially are the ones watching closest. Is this the way of the future? It could be, but I think as a potential backer I want there to be a firmer line a developer has to meet with some kind of proof of concept before they can ask for funding like this. Obsidian has a great pedigree to call us to arms, but lets be honest that they didn't have a lot of concrete content to share with us at the start. They gave more in the frequent updates, but if this becomes more common, how much do we want upfront before we open our wallets? Not trying to negative, but we will get burned on these eventually. As backers, where is our comfort point to adopt this as our new model to get the games we want?

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        October 17, 2012 11:07 AM

        I suspect that we'll find that burnout point once one of these big projects takes all the money, and then fails to deliver up to the hype. Say P:E comes out and is a turd sandwich; suddenly, everyone who's backed a project prior to that is looking at Kickstarter like it's the evil uncle who raped them as a child. I suspect if P:E DOES actually fail, we're going to see a rapid retreat from this style of funding without a really solid build already set up for what the developers want to do.

        This is the only game I've backed, and if it comes out (in 2 years...ugggghhhh) and sucks, I will probably never back another game because there is simply too much risk for my hard earned monies for me to gamble on a complete unknown.

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          October 17, 2012 1:24 PM

          Well, I think you, me and everybody else that backed P:E knows that it simply isn't going to be a bad game. It's going to OWN unless some third party somehow intervenes and something happens to Obsidian itself.

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          October 17, 2012 8:02 PM

          I think these Kickstarter guys have no idea of the risk that they are taking. By putting their names and studios on the line and with no one else to blame if they fail, they will get absolutely skewered if the game sucks or there are major problems in development. I'm not too worried about Kickstarter burnout in general... people will continue to fund developers they feel they can trust. But if (for example) Obsidian really blows it, they won't be able to do a crowd-funded game ever again. And there are a lot of ways they could screw it up even if the game is good. (Too short, way late, doesn't have unnecessary but expected features, etc.)

          That said, I love the Kickstarter trend and I hope it keeps going. I just hope these guys are also careful not to be overly ambitious. My sense is that the Double Fine guys get this, and Uber seems like they might, but some of the others, I'm not too sure.

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        October 17, 2012 11:46 AM

        Obviously, they are hoping that, come 2014, they'll be able to sell the finished product to a larger audience. There are plenty of people that are not comfortable with the idea of putting down money (whether strictly as a pre-order, or as a show of faith) for something that won't be out for two years. I'm sure OEI hopes that the 70k+ backers translate into a few hundred thousand (at least) buyers, even without consoles or a huge marketing budget.

        However, even if that does not happen and the finished product doesn't bring in a huge extra influx of cash, they'll have gotten to spend two years making the game they wanted to make for 'free' (provided their budgeting was correct). Further, if the game is well received (even without additional sales), it has the potential to lead to expansions and other games.

        In today's economy, that sort of freedom is pretty rare.

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        October 17, 2012 2:36 PM

        What I'm hoping to see overall is better quality games. You have the immediate benefit of a developer working on a game that they honestly want to work on, followed by money that they get to dictate what to put into.

        The whole Publisher, developer relationship reminds me more of gamers feeding the people in the carriage. The people in the carriage then toss the scraps to the horse pulling them.

        And when the horse dies, they butcher it and feed it to the other horses.

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          October 17, 2012 2:40 PM

          I'm a little worried about these projects running out of money before the game is finished. What would happen then?

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            October 17, 2012 2:51 PM

            No updates & no answers from the developer, and a bunch of upset individuals. I'm certain it will happen for some of the projects. It's an investment, and like any you can lose it.

            I tossed $100 towards PE since it's a genre I love & miss, and Obsidian is an established developer. Also did $30 for Grim Dawn, since I enjoy that genre also.

            Unfortunately I think a lot of people go into this thinking they already bought the game, when it's possible you may have instead paid off somebodies mortgage.

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              October 17, 2012 10:05 PM

              I donted to Takedown and pledged to Ground Branch and I seriously doubt I'll ever see either of them, but I just want a game like that so bad that I still wanted to give it a shot.

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        October 17, 2012 8:30 PM

        It will show up as a asset cash balance offset by a retained earning entry on your balance sheet. It shouldn't even hit the P&L unless you want to show it as other income or something.

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          October 17, 2012 8:31 PM

          I get that the spirit of Kickstarter is that this isn't retained earnings however from a accounting perspective the cash will be offset as retained earnings.

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          October 17, 2012 8:50 PM

          ah, interesting... thx

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      October 17, 2012 11:29 AM

      2014 is way too far out for me to drop any money on this game... I'll wait till it comes out then decide...

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        October 17, 2012 11:48 AM

        Hopefully, when it does come out, it will be good, and you'll give it a try. Then, you can thank those of us who, by backing it, gave you the opportunity to try it two years from now. :D

        (In all seriousness, I do think that there are plenty of people like you, and hope that translates to decent sales in 2014 (again, if it turns out to be good))

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      October 17, 2012 12:18 PM

      PREORDER FUNDED

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      October 17, 2012 2:30 PM

      I can't wait to see how this game turns out. I've been meaning to replay Planescape for years, this was a good reminder

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        October 17, 2012 2:37 PM

        Yeah, I've never actually finished any of those games except for BG1. I already have them from GOG, I just never seem to have time to actually install them. Maybe someday when I'm not writing a thesis and have a real person job with free time.

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          October 17, 2012 3:26 PM

          Yeah i know exactly what you mean.

          I envy you though, playing through Planescape the first time back when it came out was an epic experience.

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      October 17, 2012 2:44 PM

      Quality game development doesn't mean they have a clue how to manage money. I'm guessing it'll be fine, and I threw $20 at them in support of the concept, but it will definitely be interesting to see things unfold.

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      October 17, 2012 3:25 PM

      i wonder about the market size / fan base for this kind of game. I gave my money during kickstarter, just as many others clearly did... but will there be anyone left to buy the game after it's made? will these development funds be all they need?

      Im gonna go out on a limb here and say that traditionally publisher / investor funds backing a project covers the development, and then they make that money back, plus some extra as profit, from sales.

      Worst case scenario is that no one buys the product once it's released, because everyone who is interested already gave to the kickstarter. Are there enough potential customers left?

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        October 17, 2012 5:12 PM

        The sales of BG: enhanced should be a good indicator of what PE could pull in.

        Until then all we have really is Dragon Age as a benchmark to gauge with. It's the most recent and similar game to compare with. BG:2 was basically in a different era of gaming.

        http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.274668-Dragon-Age-2-Sales

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          October 17, 2012 5:26 PM

          stylistically similar on PC but with a console port and massive marketing I'm not sure how much we can draw from it

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        October 17, 2012 8:25 PM

        on second thought, i wonder if all revenue from sales goes to paying back publishers / investors in traditional cases. if that's true then any sales made once a crowd-funded game is released would be profit to the devs?

        sounds yummy

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      October 17, 2012 6:23 PM

      Update 28: Lead Obsidian developer Feargus Urquhart dies his hair blond, empties Obsidian bank accounts, and flees the country.

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      October 17, 2012 7:11 PM

      I see kickstarters as more of a gamble and there are more than enough finished games out there to invest time into so no thx, I don't pre-order ever so I definitely am not throwing down cash for something that might or might not be finished in a couple of years..

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        October 17, 2012 7:34 PM

        This was kind of a special circumstance. A bunch of talented developers decided to get together an make a make good old fashioned RPG, but couldn't get funded for such a preposterous idea. That's where we came in.

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          October 17, 2012 7:43 PM

          That's the kind of thing that makes me laugh. The PROFESSIONAL funding people were like uh no, this isn't worth the money. Then all the Internet experts came out and said yes it is! Has anything of substance actually come out of a kickstarter?

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            October 17, 2012 7:50 PM

            yes FTL and it is one of my favorite games to come out this year. also the PROFESSIONAL funding people are too busy pumping out COD 10 and other moneygrabs to bother with anything like this.

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              October 17, 2012 10:16 PM

              I'm going to have to see a therapist or someone about my FTL problem.

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            October 17, 2012 7:56 PM

            Except these funders all people who want the buy the game so much that they are willing to donate/preorder on the gamble that it will be done.

            Makes all these professional funding people look like they might not know they they're talking about.

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            October 17, 2012 8:39 PM

            FTL and Diamond Trust of London have both come out recently and are pretty cool games.

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      October 17, 2012 10:11 PM

      Hopefully Obsidian won't have to rush this to market because of publishers now. I expect a complete game that is not riddled with bugs.

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      October 18, 2012 6:24 AM

      Forcing anyone to play Arcanum should violate a few points of the Geneva Conventions.

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        October 18, 2012 6:49 AM

        Guess I'm out of the loop on the Arcanum hate. This game?
        http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/arcanum_of_steamworks_and_magick_obscura

        Reviews and scores seem positive. What am I missing?

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          October 18, 2012 7:24 PM

          For one, the combat system is horrendous. I don't know how in the 9-Hells I beat the game once, but I decided to give it a replay about a year ago.

          So there I was - clear across the screen from the nearest enemy. I'm a gunslinger, they're a close-combat enemy. I figured that going 'old-school' would be fun, so I turn on the 'Turn Based' system. Using most of my AP, I fire a round. Then I reload.

          And then the opponent runs clear across the entire screen and pummels my face, all within their turn.

          And 'Real Time' combat doesn't fare any better. As soon as combat starts, any close-combat enemy will just run up and beat you senseless before you can even get a decent shot to connect. I tried this about a dozen times before throwing my hands in the air and deciding to re-play Fallout instead.

          Neither system is balanced at all. For 'Turn Based' it borrows some concepts from their experiences on Fallout, but then shits all over them in execution. I understand that the 'Real TIme' system was shoe-horned in because Arcanum arrived at a time when 'Turn Based' RPGs were frowned upon (think: Diablo and Baldur's Gate had both proved to be tremendous successes.)

          For two - even though fan-made patches have made great strides in fixing the holes left in Arcanum, it's still a goddamn mess. During Troika's years, they became known for shipping bug-ridden products (see: Temple of Elemental Evil and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines). I remember hitting a stupidly nasty bug that would, at random, render the entire landscape inside a cavern as a mess of pink noise. Fumbling my way around was an awful experience, as Troika had long-since folded and the only tech support offered (by way of the leading Arcanum fan-site) didn't have any solutions to the issue.

          Troika - known for great ideas and horrible executions. Ugh.

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      October 19, 2012 12:47 PM

      Really interesting article about the dangers of Kickstarter. Also speaks to one of my points about bringing a game to market. It's hard. But, I think in the case of the dev in the article he was just inexperienced about game development and since it wasn't his day job couldn't give it the attention it really needed. That 'shouldn't' happen with Obisidan. But, the danger itself is still very real for all 78k backers.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20003916