Publishers are really starting to become irrelevant in the gaming industry. With new sources of financing becoming ever more popular like Kickstarter and Patreon, publishers are really missing out on some of the games that people are most excited for.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve seen a number of games that have received a ton of funding from the community through Kickstarters because publishers were too worried about taking a risk to support a creative project, instead going for the easy money with annual releases and brand name titles. Thankfully, with services like Patreon and Kickstarter around, we get to see most of these creative visions come to fruition, and while they’re raking in millions of dollars for doing something gamers have wanted, I can almost guarantee you publishers are scratching their heads about why they didn’t take that risk.
The most recent example is Yooka-Laylee. For years, publishers have pretty much denied gamers a revival of the 3D Platformer. In comes Yooka-Laylee, which raised over 1 million dollars within its first day of launching a Kickstarter. With 40 days to go, the game is now sitting at over 2.2 million dollars. No doubt, just about everyone in the industry has seen how successful this Kickstarter is and will inevitably try to replicate its success.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is another example of this. Multiple publishers turned the game away because they didn’t think gamers wanted a realistic medieval RPG and would rather have yet another fantasy based RPG game. Yet again, the Kickstarter for Kingdom Come was among the fastest to reach 1 million dollars on Kickstarter and the hype surrounding the game is super high up there.
Another way things seem to happen now, is a game is taken to Kickstarter like Into the Stars, is successful, and then when a publisher sees less of a risk, decides to take it on their roster as Iceberg Interactive have with Into the Stars.
Sure, these games may have only raised a couple million dollars upfront which probably doesn’t impress big name companies with huge multimillion dollar budgets, but if smaller developers are crafting these creative and influential games on such a small budget, publishers should take notes. These are games that would earn publishers respect from fans, for doing something different, even if the final product isn’t the super stellar experience everyone was hoping for. Ubisoft’s Child of Light and Valiant Hearts games are a great example of this theory in action.
It’s pretty funny to see gamers prove to publishers time and time again that they’re missing out on potentially big sells because of their reluctance to take risk. That’s okay though, because as I said, Kickstarter and Patreon have opened up new avenues for developers to self fund their games and make sure they have complete control over their creative vision, which is usually a good thing for consumers.