GAMING BLEND

Obsidian: Kickstarter Isn't What The Industry Needs, It's What Players Need

By William Usher 2012-04-08 15:07:16 discussion comments
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In a lengthy interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, chief creative officer Chris Avellone from Obsidian Entertainment talked about working with inXile on the upcoming Wasteland 2 as well as the role of KickStarter in getting games made that players want.

After that amazingly candid RipTen interview with inXile's Brian Fargo, a lot of people are now pining for more industry-inside info and poring over the finer details of the way the gaming business works. Avellone and crew from Obsidian are now helping Fargo and crew at inXile on Wasteland 2 since the KickStarter reached over $2.1 million in crowd-sourced funds. Rock, Paper, Shotgun asked if this is the sort of thing that the industry needs to bring developers and gamers close together and Avellone responded with the following...
I’d argue Kickstarter isn’t what the industry needs, it’s what players need. Who’s to say “dead genres” are dead? Are they? Who made this decision? And worse, who decides that those games won’t be financed? Publishers have every right to watch their bottom line, but for a long period of time, that was largely the only financial model developers had – and the only way most players were going to see games get produced.

Kickstarter changes that, and asks the players what they want. You’re not asking a publisher about an R.O.I. You’re asking players if they’d pay to see a genre they love be produced. It’s voting, it’s targeted people directly. It’s a fresh perspective, and I think it’s a great agent for change for games that often wouldn’t make it past a publisher pitch stage – adventure games, for example.

That's a good point. We're oftentimes badgered as gamers about complaining about the current state of the industry as if it's some fault of our own. In a way it is...many gamers (mostly casuals) buy games being vastly misinformed about the product, and unknowingly support trends that lends credence to publishers, focus group managers and investors that the industry needs more dumb-downed AAA experiences and less originality. It's the very reason why Fargo was constantly shot down by big publishers when pitching Wasteland 2 to them...it wasn't a first-person shooter and it wasn't Gears of War.

Avellone went on to further clarify his stance on KickStarter, though, stating that...
Not to say the traditional model should be discounted. It’s a different beast with different expectations, and there’s definitely a core audience that supports it. Comparing the two models, I don’t feel Kickstarter is at the level yet where it could fund an Uncharted 4 or the latest Call of Duty with the same production values, for example, but those two titles are still something the public will want that only a publisher can deliver on.

It's funny but Chris also mentions that KickStarter could also be used for more than just games, such as a KickStarter for Joss Whedon's much beloved but mainstream-failure 'FireFly'.

Brown-coat fanboy-talk aside, RPS moves into some other interesting topics including the possible resurrection of Alpha Protocol, which in my opinion was a better choice-driven experience than Mass Effect, but Avellone stomps on hopes and dreams with this little revelation...
We would love to work on an Alpha Protocol 2. We had a lot of high hopes for the sequel. SEGA owns the IP, however, so a true sequel would be unlikely. A spiritual successor using what we’ve learned and what more we wanted to do in that world – both narrative and game mechanic-wise – would be pretty exciting. Still, doing an AP2 would be an expensive prospect, so Kickstarter may not be the avenue for that at this time. We’ll see.

The entire interview is an interesting read, there's no industry-breaking comments but there's definitely plenty of insight to be had by checking it out over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. For more info on the the Wasteland 2 KickStarter feel free to visit the Official Page.
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