Double Fine's Schafer sees 'big future' in crowdfunding

Double Fine head Tim Schafer talks about the crowdfunding trend, using the model regularly, and how the options give it more flexibility in making deals with publishers.


Double Fine's announcement yesterday of a new crowdfunding campaign for the turn-based strategy game Massive Chalice came as something of a surprise. Though it was one of the first to have a successful Kickstarter push, most other developers haven't returned to the well. But Double Fine head Tim Schafer talks about crowdfunding as a viable option going forward in general, for this and future projects.

"I don't think [crowdfunding is] limited, really. I see a big future for it," Schafer told Kotaku. "We definitely have to treat each one like an original story. Each Kickstarter pitch is a story and I think we have a different one this time, with having a fresh-faced project leader like Brad Muir doing it. And he's doing it with a new IP that's not a sequel or an old genre like I was doing [with Double Fine Adventure]."

That doesn't mean publishers are being shut out completely, though, but Schafer says the freedom will help them get better deals on that end too.

"We still work with publishing partners that we like and who are good. The difference now is that we get to choose to only work with the good ones," he said. "We don't have to take a bad deal just to stay in business. We have this other funding option. The deals are going to have to get better in order to lure us back to a situation like that. The things you have to give up are often, like, IP rights and you don't get any royalties until you recoup, say, three times the investment for us to except them. All these nasty things. It'd have to be a pretty sweet upside to compensate for all of those."

He says he wants "every Kickstarter to do better than the last," but recognizes that the first one had a sense of "novelty" that might have bolstered it. The first one set a goal of $400,000 and ended up making more than $3 million. This one, by comparison, has set a goal of $725,000 and has already reached $500,000, with 27 more days to go.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 31, 2013 8:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Double Fine's Schafer sees 'big future' in crowdfunding.

    Double Fine head Tim Schafer talks about the crowdfunding trend, using the model regularly, and how the options give it more flexibility in making deals with publishers.

    • reply
      May 31, 2013 8:17 AM

      Not surprising when you look at publishers that Double Fine left: Majesco, Activision, EA, THQ. Publishers like this have had far too much revenue obsession (for multiple reasons), and far too little emphasis on making good games, and potentially having a sustainable relationship with a developer, in order to gain in the long-term.

      If big publishers can't make a model for the long-term, it only proves how broken their current business model is, and that's not the fault of customers who enjoy quality games.

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        May 31, 2013 8:22 AM

        They really have shaken up the game making process I think. It seems to be heading towards where music is at, where you have your big dumb mainstream stuff coming from the big name companies, and once they are established they go indie and take their audience with them and work directly with them.

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        May 31, 2013 8:44 AM

        "Not surprising when you look at publishers that Double Fine left: Majesco, Activision, EA, THQ."

        Well THQ is no longer around while Double Fine is. I don't know what that tells us.

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        May 31, 2013 9:58 AM

        everyone company has a revenue obsession, it's just how much it drives their decisions. Tim and DF are probably comfortable working on more games for shorter duration with a bit of flux in between. Other companies are not.

        I completely agree with you, but let's be real. everyone wants cash. The big publishers, the ones who are public, are on the quarterly grind that DF and inXile and others are not. That is probably the biggest difference.

        What I would like to see is a salary comparison to working for EA vs. working for a company like DF. Are the bottom rung coders and artists making the same? less? more?

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          May 31, 2013 1:03 PM

          DF's offices are in the middle of San Francisco, a city where the taxes are high, the rent is astronomical, I doubt anyone is getting a crap wage there because they simply could survive here.

          Also DF is an industry darling in the bay area, working on some wicked projects with a cool company vibe, I can imagine they aren't hard up to find people to work there, even if the salary is a bit lower.

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      May 31, 2013 9:05 AM

      The thought of going indie one day is the only thing keeping me alive, so I really hope Tim is right that crowd funding is here to stay.

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      May 31, 2013 10:08 AM

      who better to ask for money than existing fans with little to no business sense?

      • reply
        May 31, 2013 1:18 PM

        Double Fine's Schafer sees 'big future' 'big money' in crowdfunding.

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        May 31, 2013 6:31 PM

        "Caveat Emptor" works both ways, but at least funding a Kickstarter is more ethically sound than preordering a game published by EActiUbiTakeSquareEidos sight unseen, only to have it watered down by the same systemic problems common to multiplatform games in the past 6 years.

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          May 31, 2013 6:37 PM

          sure, I just don't think it's a surprise that a developer loves the idea of getting funding from someone who isn't going to even ask things like what their milestone schedules are and then have some ability to assess whether that's remotely reasonable.

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            June 1, 2013 3:16 AM

            For twenty bucks, I could care less. I'm investing in the studio and the people, and at the end of the process I get a game for my trouble. There simply isn't enough at stake to warrant such oversight. That's what makes crowdfunding so interesting: the risk is exploded over thousands of backers and becomes essentially meaningless.

            And besides all that, DF are more transparent than most through their 2PP docs. I'd pay money fofr those alone.

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