Poll

Which of these games have you played?

Night in the Woods
Kentucky Route Zero
A Hat in Time
Thomas Was Alone
Hyper Light Drifter
Tadpole Treble
The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
None of these
All of them
The Wonderful 101 Remastered
Mercenary Kings
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Yooka-Laylee
Jotun
Hollow Knight
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
Freedom Planet
Mighty No. 9
Shovel Knight
Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

Author Topic: Kickender: A brief history of crowdfunded video games on Nintendo systems  (Read 33392 times)

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Offline Mr. Bungle

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The Background
Around 2010 the popularity of websites like Kickstarter allowed people to source small contributions from a large number of individuals to fund their video game projects. The projects began with modest amounts and supported indie sized games but have grown to include projects in the millions and large scale development studios. Many of these projects seem to target gaps in the market for abandoned IP or spiritual successors. The quality has been mostly high as many of these projects have received lots of fan support and a development team that believes in the project. Naturally many of these games have come to Nintendo systems and due to the time period it has mostly been Wii U and Switch, with some appearing on both. So, let's take a look at these games and share our experiences with supporting such projects.

The Games
The list of games below has information in the following order:
Game Title (Developer, Campaign End Date-Game Release Date [Elapsed Time  in Days], Amount Raised (USD), Platforms, NWR Reviews)
  • Kentucky Route Zero (Jake Elliott, 2/6/11-1/7/13 [701 days], $8,583, Switch 9.5 from NWR
  • Thomas Was Alone (Mike Bithell, 5/8/12-6/30/12 [53 days], $2,452, Wii U, Switch
  • Project Giana (Black Forest Games, 8/31/12-10/23/12 [53 days], $186,158, Wii U 6.5 from NWR, Switch 6 from NWR
  • Mercenary Kings (Tribute Games, 8/31/12-3/25/14 [571 days], $116,064, Switch 9 from NWR
  • Freedom Planet (Galaxy Trail, 2/14/13-6/21/14 [492 days], $25,472, Wii U9 from NWR, Switch 9 from NWR
  • Shovel Knight (Yacht Club Games, 4/13/13-6/26/14 [639 days], $311,502, Wii U 10 from NWR, 3DS, Switch
  • A Hat in Time (Gears for Breakfast, 6/28/13-10/5/17 [1560 days], $296,360, Switch 7 from NWR
  • Mighty No. 9 (Comcept, 10/1/13-6/21/16 [994 days], $4,031,550, Wii U 5 from NWR
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (WayForward, 10/4/13-12/20/16 [1173 days], $947,937, Wii U 9 from NWR, Switch 9 from NWR
  • Hyper Light Drifter (Heart Machine, 10/12/13-5/31/16 [962 days], Switch 9 from NWR
  • Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall, 11/22/13-2/21/17 [1187 days], $209,375, Switch 9 from NWR
  • Tadpole Treble (Matthew Tarranto, 12/7/13-5/6/16 [881 days], $34,250, Wii U 8.5 from NWR, Switch 7 from NWR
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (King Art Games, 5/23/14-2/20/15 [273 days], $171,593, Wii U, Switch
  • Jotun (William Dube, 8/21/14-9/29/15 [404 days], $64,265, Wii U 8.5 from NWR, Switch 7 from NWR
  • Hollow Knight (Team Cherry, 12/19/14-2/24/17 [798 days], $57,138, Switch 10 from NWR
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Koji Igarashi, 6/12/15-6/18/19 [1467 days], $5,545,991, Switch 8 from NWR
  • Yooka-Laylee (Playtonic Games, 6/17/15-4/11/17 [664 days], $2,881,700, Switch 6 from NWR
  • The Wonderful 101 Remastered (Platinum Games, 3/6/20-5/19/20 [74 days], $2,235,545, Switch 6 from NWR

The Highlights
Starting with the NWR review scores we can see that these projects are hit or miss. The best reviewed games in the list are Shovel Knight and Hollow Knight which both received a 10 from NWR. The lowest score is unsurprisingly Mighty No. 9, though Yooka-Laylee was not much better. We are still waiting on that 3DS version Inafune  >:(

Turning next to the amount raised by the campaign we see amounts ranging from a low of $2,452 (Thomas Was Alone) to a high of $5,545,991 (Bloodstained). It is worth noting that Iga had the record for the most raised in one of these projects until Shenmue III came along.

Lastly, we consider the time that elapsed between the end of the campaign and the initial release date. The fastest time from date to date was 53 days, which is actually a tie between Thomas Was Alone and Project Giana. The longest span between funding and release was 1560 days (just over 4 years) which occurred with A Hat in Time.


The Comments
Sound off in the forums with your experiences with these games.
Did you support any of these projects?
Were you satisfied with the end product?
What is the future of crowdfunding in video games?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 04:36:27 PM by Mr. Bungle »

Offline Adrock

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Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero was a mostly by the numbers Shantae game. That isn’t bad per se. The game was fun, just less fun than its excellent predecessor, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. And while the sprite work in 1/2 Genie Hero is very good, I found it less charming than the pixel art of the previous games in the series.

For a Kickstarter game, WayForward Technologies had been making games for so long that there were no major controversies. Well, announcing a physical version well after the Kickstarter ended was not great. I suppose that was more timing than anything. I believe WayForward Technologies was going to self-publish digitally. It didn’t have a publisher at first then it got one. That says more about the perils of crowdfunding so I can’t really blame WayForward Technologies for that because it wasn’t as if it was dishonest about anything. I ended up double dipping and getting the physical version on Switch. Anyway, the studio knows what it’s doing so I don’t remember any issues coming up during development. It delivered the product that was promised. The Kickstarter didn’t hit some of the stretch goals I felt would have really helped the game stand out from the rest of the series like animated cutscenes and voice acting. However, I’ll die on the hill of “Dance Through The Danger”. It’s corny but still so so good.

I do kind of wish WayForward Technologies would settle the F down with the sexy anime girls, but that’s basically the company’s calling card for its original IPs. I find at least mildly off-putting.

Development for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was rocky. ArtPlay missed several deadlines and had to bring in other developers to help out. There were definitely growing pains for Koji Igarashi as this was the first major game he produced outside of a corporate structure. There were pros and cons. Konami told him to make a Castlevania game by X date for Y amount of money. He worked surprisingly well under those restrictions though it probably stifled him creatively.

For a Kickstarter game, it mostly delivered. There are no Wii U or Vita versions and one major stretch goal had to be scrapped/replaced. The Switch version was largely butt for about eight months. Considering a bulk of sales came from the Switch version, the biggest audience for this kind of game is with Nintendo so that should be the lead platform next time. It’s easier to scale up than down, and Ritual of the Night wasn’t exactly a graphical showcase so I don’t think IGA loses anything by targeting a lower spec machine first. Honestly though, I hope Igarashi ditches 3D models in favor of sprites.

Overall, once the Switch version received the second major patch in early 2020, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was almost exactly what I wanted as I hadn’t played a Metroidvania since Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.

I contributed to the Indiegogo for Indivisible which I regret because I’ve seen it on sale physically for $30 recently (though I technically have two copies so maybe I’ll sell my unopened physical copy as “rare” in a few years). More importantly, Lab Zero Games is more or less defunct largely because studio head, Mike Zaimont (Mike Z.), sucks as a human being, notably an insensitive “I can’t breathe” joke on a live stream then numerous counts of abusive and other problematic behavior.

Due to the dissolution of Lab Zero Games, development on stretch goals ended and the final update was released in October 2020. This was definitely my least successful crowdfunded game. Indivisible released, and from what I played, it’s perfectly fine though the presentation is rough around the edges (i.e. inconsistent cutscenes and voice acting in that both are sometimes absent for whatever reason).

As for the future, we’re well past the peak of crowdfunding. Stories of games that delivered have largely been overshadowed by the controversial ones like Shenmue III, Star Citizen, Unsung Story, and everyone’s favorite punching bag, Mighty No. 9. I think some games will still get crowdfunded though we may not see another on the scale of Shenmue III and with good reason. 🤷‍♀️

While I didn’t contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, I’ll talk myself into buying Blasphemous eventually (sub-$10 is likely my line). Additionally, I’m looking forward to Hazelnut Bastille, another game I didn’t crowdfund. I absolutely will contribute to the Infinity Kickstarter in June. It’s a nearly finished Game Boy Color RPG finally getting completed by some of the original development team. I want that physical cartridge.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2021, 07:07:51 PM by Adrock »

Offline NWR_insanolord

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I played a bunch of these games, but I didn't contribute to the crowdfunding of any of them. I kind of gave up on game Kickstarters long before most of these games were on there.
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Offline Mr. Bungle

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For a Kickstarter game, it mostly delivered. There are no Wii U or Vita versions and one major stretch goal had to be scrapped/replaced. The Switch version was largely butt for about eight months.
Overall, once the Switch version received the second major patch in early 2020, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was almost exactly what I wanted as I hadn’t played a Metroidvania since Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia.

I supported this one when there was still hope for a Wii U version, but later transferred my pledge to the Switch version. I did wait on playing until the major patch was released so I never saw the quality of the initial Switch release. I really enjoyed the game and hope to revisit it someday. Also, I'm curious what is next for Iga.

I contributed to the Indiegogo for Indivisible which I regret because I’ve seen it on sale physically for $30 recently

I felt this way with Yooka-Laylee. I supported at the $24 level and just got a Switch download code. Then a short while later I would see the physical version of the game, which I prefer, for this amount.

Offline Adrock

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I supported this one when there was still hope for a Wii U version, but later transferred my pledge to the Switch version. I did wait on playing until the major patch was released so I never saw the quality of the initial Switch release. I really enjoyed the game and hope to revisit it someday. Also, I'm curious what is next for Iga.
I only played the boat area before the patches. The input lag was enough to get me to stop playing. ArtPlay quickly announced it was actively working on getting the Switch version up to par. WayForward Technologies did a great job. There were only a couple spots post-patches that could have used some extra work. For the most part, the game ran well.

Once the final stretch goals are met, I imagine IGA will start working on a sequel. Anything else is probably too risky for a studio as small as ArtPlay.

Offline Mr. Bungle

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I did a quick search of Kickstarter to see if there were any big projects since The Wonderful 101. I did not find any, but found a few campaigns raising money for a printing of NES cartridges for games they had made.







Offline GK

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As bland as Mighty No.9 was I'm still glad I backed it. If only for the Mighty Gunvolt spinoffs. Those are solid.
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Offline TOPHATANT123

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Interesting topic, never donated to a Kickstarter but I wouldn't be opposed if the right game came along.

Offline ThePerm

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If I remember correctly I got Shantae and Shovel Knight as apart of a humble bundle. I got Yooka Laylee because I was excited about it.
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Offline GK

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Did Timespinner ever get a Switch release? I just remembered backing it, but I got it on Steam.
Mission...complete?

Offline Mr. Bungle

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Did Timespinner ever get a Switch release? I just remembered backing it, but I got it on Steam.
Here is a review for Timespinner (Switch) on NWR

Offline Order.RSS

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Seeing them all lined up like this does highlight how crowdfunding is a really viable path in the right hands. Sure, some projects will disappoint (thinking of Mighty No 9, and I'm not sure how well Shenmue 3 is regarded either), but there's some genuine GOTY contenders here between Shovel Knight, Kentucky Route Zero, and perhaps Thomas Was Alone.

Sure, we're only seeing the ones which even make it past the funding and creation phases, so there's a real survivorship bias going on, but there's a lot of at-least-decent games in this list.

Playing Giana Sisters right now, and I couldn't have told you it was a Kickstarter product, feels pretty polished. I've never really backed a project on there, but I respect the hustle.

Offline ThePerm

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After 20 years of wanting Shenmue 3 I bought it... and have had it since it came out and haven't played it yet.

I wanted to play Shenmue 1 and 2 first, because I hadn't played them in 20 years, but got bored in the middle of Shenmue 2 and never picked it back up. I think you can transfer over your gumball characters too.
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