Double Fine raised over $3.3 million through Kickstarter to fund their adventure game Broken Age. However, that's not enough for them to develop the game that they want. Instead, they're turning to Steam Early Access in order to get additional money for development.
"Even though we received much more money from our Kickstarter than we, or anybody anticipated, that didn’t stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money," Double Fine boss Tim Schafer said in a backers-only update on Kickstarter. "I think I just have an idea in my head about how big an adventure game should be, so it’s hard for me to design one that’s much smaller than Grim Fandango or Full Throttle. There’s just a certain amount of scope needed to create a complex puzzle space and to develop a real story. At least with my brain, there is."
The studio thought that they could get funds from porting the game to other platforms, or releasing special bundles. These ideas wouldn't be enough, though. Nor would funding the game with sales of other Double Fine-published games. Creating another Kickstarter "seemed wrong."
Traditionally developers sign with publishers in order to secure funding for their projects. However, Schafer says that this wasn't an acceptable solution. After all, the whole reason Double Fine had turned to Kickstarter in the first place was to circumvent publisher control and make the exact game they wanted.
"Then we had a strange idea," Schafer said. "What if we made some modest cuts in order to finish the first half of the game by January  instead of July , and then released that finished, polished half of the game on Steam Early Access? Backers would still have the option of not looking at it, of course, but those who were sick of waiting wouldn’t have to wait any more. They could play the first half of the game in January!"
Steam Early Access, used by Arma 3 and Edge of Space among titles, allows developers to charge for games prior to their release. Therefore, Double Fine could sell the first half of Broken Age to the public, and in turn use that money to fund the second half of the game. The second half would then be released as a free update in April or May. In other words, you don't have to pay for two separate products here. If you've backed the game, or purchased it through Steam Early Access, you'll get access to both parts as they're made available. Also, backers will still get their promised beta before the first half's release.
Double Fine's solution sounds fair. It's not screwing over the backers in any way and, from the sounds of things, isn't compromising the scope of Broken Age. This game was the first big Kickstarter and I've been praying that it doesn't end in a big clusterfuck. If things had gone south, it would've ended up hurting the chances of other developers seeking Kickstarter funds. For now, though, it looks like Double Fine has justified backers' faith in them.