The Needles

The Needles: "Crowd Contributed" Game Development: A Grim Dawn Breaks

Andy Chalk | 9 Feb 2010 21:00
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That funding model is what Bruno described in the Grim Dawn forums as "crowd contributed." The idea is simple: Give a dedicated community of fans the chance to kick some money into the development process through a very early pre-order option, then use that money to add some extra zing and throw a few bonuses to early supporters. Everybody wins, he said: "The core fans who would buy the game anyway will be getting more and the extra content and polish will hopefully add value to the game that results in extra sales for us that we might not have otherwise made."

"Crowd supported" is obviously akin to "crowd funded," but Bruno pointed out that the latter description of Grim Dawn on some sites is inaccurate. While the response from the community has been "overwhelmingly positive," near the end of January he estimated that contributions up to that point would account for less than three percent of the game's total budget. "Though the number of pre-orders has risen above our expectations, it is still only a very small percentage of our total project budget," he explained. "We've seen sites touting this as a new 'crowd-funding' model. The volume is certainly not that high yet and we really see this as just a way to budget in some additional content."

So why not go fully crowd-funded? For one thing, the idea didn't occur to anyone until the game was several months into development, but, more practically, there's just not enough crowd to provide the funds. "We're talking about hundreds of people pre-ordering thus far, not the tens of thousands it would take to fully fund a project of this size," Bruno said. "It is enough money to add a little bit of content to the game and we're happy with that but it certainly isn't anywhere close to fully funding development."

"I think it would be tough to begin a project reliant on a pure crowd-funding model from the get-go, especially without the unusual dedication of the Titan Quest community," he continued. "There are a lot of upfront costs that occur with opening a business and beginning a new project such as legal fees, software licensing, etc. How would you get people to donate to an unknown project/team before you had any work to show?"

Which of course leads to the obvious question: What happens to all that pre-order money if, despite everyone's best efforts and intentions, the project falls through?

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