Evolve in London 2012: Part 2 – Show Me The Money!
If you’re reading this, the world did not end on December 21st. However as it is Christmas time, it will have felt like it has for your bank account. While we have enough time recovering from an annual event we have plenty of fair warning over, what do you do if you are wanting to start up something new? Maybe it’s a new piece of technology or getting first out the gates for a new gaming platform. If you’re in the developer game, here’s a few things we learned at Evolve in London 2012.
Remember Palmer Luckey of Oculus in Part 1? Oculus had won the Kickstarter game by raising over ten times the requested funds for a new piece of virtual reality (VR) technology. But every Kickstarter story is different, as attendees learned through a panel discussion at the close of day.
Discussion ranged from “Why are you doing a Kickstarter?” to “What happens if you can’t fulfill a pledge?” The solution to the second question is basically that it depends on the people pledging. They may be open to alternative gifts, they may want a refund, or they may be okay with the situation if it means the game gets made. The most interesting solution, caused by miscommunications with Apple’s App Store, lead to an extra app version of game for pledges above a certain level being put through on the App Store’s free app of the day and the qualifying pledgers being sent a link through to it.
From a consumer point of view, that first question is the biggest sticking point. We can understand people looking for funding money because they don’t have the funds. But when larger companies that can afford to make the investment start leaning on the Kickstarter communities, something’s a-miss. At best, these companies could make the argument that it’s really to judge market interest, although that does bring to mind the immediate follow up of “What the hell is your marketing department up to?” At worst, it’s a mish-mash of greed, arrogance, and laziness. Kickstarter is a place for projects which need that direct contact between creator and consumer.
That was the thought that followed this attendee home; could Kickstarter be falling into the wrong hands? Do the corporations need to be explicitly rejected by Kickstarter’s moderators? Already there are moves to have physical projects be backed up with working prototypes and not just concept art, following repeated delays. Could further changes be on the cards?
There are other ways to look for backing. Aj Grand-Scrutton told the story of how he started all over again, going from a reasonably successful developer to in charge of his own company and work out of his mom’s garage. His company, Dlala Studios, created one of the first games for Windows 8, Janksy. (The main character can be followed on Twitter @JanksyInSpace).
This is very much the opposite of Kickstarter in that here we have two producers working together to create a product which compliments both their work. Microsoft was one of the sponsors for the conference, but Grand-Scrutton’s thanks for support from the company seemed genuine. It’s a partnership which may only be possible during the early days of a new platform, however hopefully these partnerships will last the life of the console and maybe even the next.
For those wanting to get in on Windows 8, Game Jam sponsors Train2Game have put together a 2D engine for the system. It’s a very visual tool with the user creating the graphics first. He then defines the object actions and the program then creates the game. Tweaking is required; while the demonstration was well-practiced, it was still less than 40 minutes from import background to a simple yet functioning game.
Anyone wanting to go further into funding and financing for games will need to talk to Adam Martin, the founder of Red Glasses. Not only does he know the difference between funds and finance, he’ll even tell it as a re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.