Larian on Kickstarter–An improvised start

Everbody’s asking me – are you mad ?

Launching your Kickstarter campaign in the middle of Torment’s campaign ?  (In case you didn’t know yet, Larian launched a Kickstarter campaign for Divinity: Original Sin today)

Well…

And you are doing this without any notable PR ? Are you bananas ?

Well…

And you’re doing this during the week of GDC and PAX ?

Well…

it’s a long story…

Since I don’t have that much time right now because I find myself doing plenty of work I thought I was only going to be doing next week, I’ll keep it short, but it is worth writing about.

You see, we didn’t plan on announcing our Kickstarter today. But somebody else decided for us, and that somebody was…

Myrthos !

Yes, the Myrthos from RPGWatch, my first stop in the morning to get my RPG news. He wrote a really positive hands-on article about Divinity: Original Sin (calling it Divine Divinity on steroids) for which we’re really grateful, but…

He published it today!

And… we only expected it to be published once the Kickstarter page was live, next week…

So…

Everything suddenly went into overdrive. Now for clarity, Myrthos is not to blame – it’s bad communication on our side combined with the complexities of running a Kickstarter campaign from Belgium that caused this, but that’s a different story altogether. But still, it did leave us with a major problem.

Because if he published, then the others were going to publish also, maybe, we didn’t know. And there are about hands-on 70 articles lined up to give the KS some momentum, but obviously, we’re not going to manage to get all those articles online right away, not if we don’t give any heads up…and when all the journalists are busy covering GDC/PAX follow ups…especially after we asked them to wait for so long and promised to give them a date up front (which we couldn’t because we only this morning(sic) received approval for KS (which was actually fast given that we submitted it last thursday or so) etc…

So, what to do?

A) Go live tomorrow (so we could at least prepare a bit more and perhaps get the translations in)

b) Go live now and improvise

c) Go live when we expected to go live (next week), at the risk of not having the Kickstarter link in the articles, but with the advantage of being well prepared

I’m pretty sure several of my publishing friends (and fiends) are laughing out loud right now ;)

In the end we figured b) was the best option, but really we have no clue.

It does have the great peculiar advantage that it got us improvising, which is a situation in which we’re usually at our best  (and tbh enjoy), but really, it’s not exactly ideal.

Anyway, we’ll discover the result in a few days I guess and right now we’re trying to make the best of it.

I’m in any case very nervous about it all and hope that I made the right decision re: taking Divinity: Original Sin to Kickstarter. This particular article at PCGMedia has it right – I am afraid of damaging the game if the Kickstarter fails – that would really be a sin.

This obviously is to be continued but at least now you know why the campaign suddenly appeared out of the blue.

And what your next stop on the internet should be. Come on, what are you waiting for ?

Back the Kickstarter campaign for Divinity: Original Sin now! ;)

  • JackDandy

    Hope it will pick up steam in the following days or at least keep going at it’s current pace.

  • http://twitter.com/Roqsan Roq Marish

    Was a no brainer backing this, was literally just waiting for it to appear with my mouse button poised over the pledge key. Have been a fan since Divine Divinity appeared seemingly out of the blue.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Thx Roq! Appearing out of the blue is apparently something we’re good at ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/katrien.cornelis Katrien Cornelis

    First kickstarter I ever backed..just yesterday I was whining that i wanted to purchase/support/whatever you guys, already have a connection to D:OS and today..tadaaa :) kickstarter..beta <3 sorry the alpha was a bit too far fetched for my budget..but still jeej! Seeing you're at 931 backers now, steady she goes..I think maybe you guys should already make a small list what happens when you reach like,erm..1.000.000$ ..Don't know which game had that..Was pretty awesome

  • AlexF

    This is a really funny story, depending on what angle you look at it from. I do hope you guys find the humour in all of this. First there is the Torment campaign. They are at 3.1 million at the moment but the great rush is usually at the start of the campaign and at the end, especially with a streatch goal of including Chris Avelone at 3.5 million. You can be sure that they’ll get at least that much.

    Then there is the Veronica Mars movie kickstarter. What does that have to do with anything? Well I don’t think the audience for a hardcore turn based RPG and a movie fans of the tv-series have been asking for for years but at the moment they are at above 4 mil with 16 days to go and practically no updates and stretch goals to spur people on. Some of the kickstarter audience is bound to throw their money there.

    Then of course as you mentioned, PAX, GDC, it’s not only that the journalists are too busy to report on a new kickstarter project but there has been a huge stream of gaming news these past few days. New games announced, etc.

    Also Bioshock Infinite launched 2 days ago, that has taken a lot of the media attention and will probably continue to for a good while longer.

    All in all your timing is pretty bad. However 10% of the goal in just one day is not bad at all. You have 29 days to go and in about 2 weeks almost all of these distractions will have gone away. You may not have caught a big kickstarter launch rush but I’m sure if you’re close to the goal in the last week you’ll see a boost in contributions from fans just so that all this work and excitement for the project doesn’t go away. Have you seen the kickstarter for Project GODUS? For most of it’s run everybody thought it was gonna fail. They ended up getting 75.000 pounds more than the asked ammount. Also once media attention starts to shift you may see a surge mid campaign. It can happen.

    If I make a suggestion, you are in the unique position of owning a lot of your ips. I don’t know how much revenue you make out of the other three divinity games but if you don’t think it would hurt their sales much (and if you have the rights for them) you could offer them as rewards in low to medium tiers. People may like the extra incentive of getting something for their money as soon as the kickstarter campaign ends and not have to wait for the actual game. A bolder suggestion would be to involve Dragon Commander. I’m not suggesting you selling it cheap but for example if at 200 dollar tiers and up you offer a copy of Dragon Commander as well. If you don’t think that’s financially viable you could have it as an addon for any tier. Let anyone add 40-50 bucks to get a copy of Dragon Commander and to sweeten the deal give it to the backers a week early, or when you would send the press copies for the reviews. Think of it as a small part of the Dragon Commander preorder money going towards Original Sin.

    Anyway I wish you luck with this campaign. The kickstarter page is very well designed and the game looks great in the kickstarter video and the other previews we’ve seen so far. I look forward to playing both Dragon Commander and Original Sin.

    • Raze

      One of the $65 tiers includes a digital version of Dragon Commander and Original Sin. The release price for Dragon Commander will be $40, so an addon option would have to be a little cheaper than that (depending on how much Larian is willing to cannibalize Dragon Commander pre-orders to help Original Sin).

      I’d like to see addons for some of the physical swag, though from what I’ve read (in passing) physical goods are not necessarily effective at fund-raising (a change of supplier or higher than expected production run could reduce or eliminate the profit intended to go towards the kickstarter project).

      • Vometia

        Yeah, I’d like to see some physical bits and pieces too: that’s the sort of stuff that usually grabs my attention. There was some nice signed things at some of the higher levels but they were a bit too rich for me!

  • Gui ‘Baalka’ Z

    First of all, I wish you good luck for this campaign. I’m pretty sure tons of fans are ready to back as soon as they learn of the project, and your good communication campaign so far will surely help it. I hope you did the right decisionn conerning the launching date, but I believe you did well not waiting.

    “And what your next stop on the internet should be. Come on, what are you waiting for ?”

    In fact, the only thing i’m waiting for right now, is a more European-friendly backing system. I guess you’ll launch preorder/backing via paypal or so on your website later to avoid ‘stealing’ the KS backing, but right now it’s a bit frustrating : first, I don’t like much the idea of paying 18$ more to ship a Larian’s game here in Belgium (and I suppose you pretty well understand my opinion : it’s somewhat ridiculous). Second, and more important, KS is credit cards only (it’s understandable given how the funding works), while these aren’t as popular in EU as in the US. I know many people who would want to back but simply can’t.

    Well, once again good luck, keep doing the great job. And, right, I’m curious to see how much you’ll be able to raise and which stretchgoals you’ve prepared (or will improvise) for us.

    • Raze

      They are still working out the shipping within Europe.

  • arne

    I don’t have the insight to reason whether this early release was a bad thing or not, but it ís really exciting! If my estimations are correct, as soon as kickstarter succeeds further development of DOS can’t possibly take more than 3 months on a budget of 400k right? And the list of extra stuff you want to add … is that realistic? Not to forget all the extra npcs, dialogues, objects and names you’ll have to create … It sounds insane! You did the math for yourself I hope? What a mess!
    Anyway, I had a little question, will the Larian vault have the soundtracks of DOS and DC for sale? That might just influence which reward I’ll kick in the end.

    Enjoy the coming moth!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sami.haila Sami Haila

    It’s funny how I picked Divine Divinity out of a used basket only to find that it was missing a disk and now I’m supporting Larian with everything I got. Still I think this is the least I can do to improve a game that is probably the only game at the moment I’m waiting to be released. All the love and luck in the world for Larian and I hope this gets through to the masses so that it gets kickstarted. Hope you guys make it so I can play it =).

  • Steve Townsend

    I think this will work out just fine. Larian output always figured to have more of a slow build than a “open…funded!” Torment type of deal, in my view. Though NEXT time, you might find a bigger, ready pool of day one backers. I’ve been hoping for months you would offer prepurchase of DC and OS, whether via KS or not, so I got my wish (though I think I put in enough cash to buy > 1 copy, hmmm)

  • Bedwyr

    Bedwyr the dwarven blacksmith backed it. Best of luck Swen and everybody at Larian.

  • LC

    Nice read! I like your personal enthusiasm and dedication to the project. Backing Original Sin instantly was a no-brainer. :)