The video game business, and the entertainment industry in general, is a tricky place. Making a major release costs a lot of money. Getting a lot of money means getting a major publisher to back you. Getting a major publisher to back you means proving that your game will make tons of cash, and the only way to be sure of that is to make a game that has made money before. It is a vicious cycle that leads to cookie cutter games and the original ideas of developers trampled by safe design. Until now, the only other option was to make due with whatever budget you could sweep together. Coming soon, there will be another option. The good people at 8bit funding will help to bring the community together and make your idea a reality.
The idea is a simple one, and it is not new. 8Bit funding will help you set up a method for you to accept donations/investments so that you can call upon the gaming community as a whole to chip in to finance your project, so called “crowd sourcing” funding for your project. Kickstarter has been doing this for a while now, with terrific results. The two sites are more alike than they are different. Both will allow you to set up perks to encourage investors to contribute certain amounts, for instance. That said, 8Bit funding isn’t just a duplicate of Kickstarter. For one, by using Paypal for their payment system, 8bit funding will be able to open its doors to international projects, rather than the US only policy currently in place for Kickstarter. Most importantly, unlike on that page, where game projects have to compete with projects of every conceivable other type, 8bit will focus exclusively on video games. The benefits of this cannot be overstated. It means that you know from the start that the only people looking at your project are enthusiasts in your field. You don’t have to worry about dumbing down your language or appealing to the least common denominator. If your idea is a revolutionary departure from the norm, or a clear and brilliant evolution, you won’t have to waste time explaining the current state of games or why your idea is different. Instead, you can focus on illustrating just how cool your idea really is. It allows you to make the most of your pitch time.
We here at BrainLazy were able to take a look at the site in development, and even in its embryonic state, it is enlightening. Users submit a video and explanation of their idea, as well as their fundraising goal and what sort of perks they are offering. It will be listed, with all of the standard automatic sharing on twitter and facebook integrated. Judging from the sample projects, a submission doesn’t necessarily have to be a full game to earn a place on the site. Components or engines are valid entries as well. If this is indeed the case once the full site releases, then I can foresee instances where even failed fundraising attempts produce positive results. Picture this, you list your soft body physics engine for funding, and if fails because no one can figure out what it should be used in. Meanwhile, it catches the eye of an aspiring developer of a hackey sack simulator who just can’t get the sack to bounce right. A partnership is born. One key point to remember, and another motivating factor for those involved, is that you submit this project on faith that you WILL finish it if you are funded. A “take the money and run” approach will not be tolerated, so that should light a fire under the butt of any developer lucky enough to meet their funding goal.
The site opens its virtual doors on January 17th, and there are already ten or so developers lined up to share their projects at launch. If you are an aspiring developer with a brilliant idea, but you just haven’t had the cash to get it rolling, help is arriving. 8Bit funding will give you a chance to raise the money to do your idea proud without having a bunch of nervous executives breathing down your neck, pressuring you to trend toward the mainstream. If it is successful, this should be a huge shot in the arm for the indie community and, really, gaming as a whole, as a wave of uncompromised originality is unleashed on the world. At best it could convince the big developers to take more chances with their products. At the very least it should provide a whole new batch of proven concepts for them deem safe to add to their cookie cutter arsenal. Either way, the gamers win.
8bit funding launches Jan. 17th at 8bitfunding.com. Check it out and help usher in a new age of indie gaming.