Enough with the nostalgia Kickstarter

After seeing games receive some major successes on the online “crowd source” investment initiative known as Kickstarter, it’s not hard to see why developers are jumping on the band wagon. But as more and more games pop up on Kickstarter, it’s hard not to notice the amount of projects looking to the 80s and 90s gaming to entice donations..

While there’s sure to be some fans don’t mind slapping down $10 for a bit of nostalgia, key word being ‘some’, it can only take a game so far. Recently, CGM reported on the cancelled Kickstarter Inherit the Earth 2, a sequel to the 1994 game Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb. Joe Pearce, Creator of the project, of Wyrmkeep Entertainment, said bluntly that there was no way the game would get the funds it needed based off a hundred fans looking for some nostalgia. With just over $8,000 pledged and 20 days to go to reach their $135,000 goal, it became clear it wasn’t going to happen.

So, what was Inherit the Earth’s problem? The game needed more appeal, and not just to a small group of people who may have played the DOS original all those years ago. The game also boasted having the same feel as its predecessor, not giving people who hadn’t played the previous title much to go off of. Kickstarter projects have a tendency to start off with fans throwing money from all directions, commenting and letting the developer know how happy they are, but often this honeymoon phase doesn’t last long.

Gas Powered Game’s, Wildman is currently experiencing this, with approximately $300,000 of the million they posted as their goal.. Wildman isn’t marketing an old game experience, but rather the opposite. CEO of Gas Powered Games, Chris Taylor told CGM in an interview he hoped his past games such as Supreme Commander and Dungeon Siege would help Wildman get pledges, for fans looking for the same type of quality game.

“This was not the case,” Taylor later said.

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After doing Kickstarter for about eight days we can see that it doesn’t work like that,” he said. “It’s not about the development studio or about me as a designer, it’s about the concept of the game.”

It’s been made clear by potential investors that though they may like Gas Powered’s other titles, it’s not enough to convince them to lay down their cash. Instead they are looking at Wildman’s concept, trying to decide if they want it developed based on what they’ve seen of the game so far.

double fine productions kickstarter record breaking fundraising double fine adventure slide

But not all games have failed or struggled because of their nostalgia based pull-in, and this is where Double Fine Adventure comes in. Double Fine was advertising a good ol’ nostalgia game, but in a different way. Double Fine reminded potential investors why they liked point and click adventure games, and let them look at a new title with no past game baggage, and it worked. Double Fine Adventure got over 80,000 backers with $3,366,371 in funds after only asking for $400,000. This game appears as a beacon of hope for indie developers wanting to push the nostalgia aspect. Actually having successful Kickstarter retro games such as, Double Fine Adventure and Wasteland was a major factor for indie developers hoping on board the retro train. If the RobotLovesKitty husband and wife duo can get Legend of Dungeon, a pixel game that made over $25,000 more then what they asked for, then what do other indie developers have to lose. 


pixel art

So why might gamers not want to fund games with a retro game feel?

Perhaps they want something new and different. It’s safe to say almost everyone who’s been gaming since childhood loves to pull out the N64 or Genesis every now and then. But that doesn’t mean that point-and-click adventures are going to come back. While I don’t discourage developers creating 80s style games and using Kickstarter to push the idea, they shouldn’t rely on old fans with a pang for nostalgia to fund the project.