The halo effect

Not so long ago, in fact, just a few weeks ago when I posted my last blog entry, I said that Kickstarter might not be the right route for our future projects. I argued that it’s a limited pool and that it would be wrong for us to fish in it if our games are earning sufficient money for us to invest in our future projects.

I immediately received a few strong reactions, both publicly but also privately about how I got it all wrong, and that in fact I should steer Larian back to Kickstarter. The reasoning is that successful crowdfunding projects send more people to the crowdfunding scene and that benefits the smaller projects. This is referred to as the “halo effect” and one particular bright person compared it to “a restaurant sitting alone or on a block with many others. They all do better with more traffic”.

I have to say that that got me thinking.

This image is now part of Larian's history

Blasting through our Kickstarter goal was a very important moment in Larian’s history and we’re forever indebted to the people who made it possible.

Just today there’s been a report from a consultancy firm called Ico partners that there’s less money going to fewer game projects on Kickstarter. They project that Kickstarter earnings in 2014 will be half of what they were in 2013, and blame “the lack of low-hanging fruit, a waning enthusiasm – partly driven by some high-profile failures – and the introduction of some serious and well publicized alternatives”, the latter referring to the rise of Steam Early Access.

According to the article quoting the Ico report, half of the money in 2013 was brought in by the big names and the question is raised whether it’s really a case of waning popularity or just a gap in the schedule because all those big names are now busy delivering on their promises. And if the latter is the case, the question remains if this indeed negatively affects the smaller projects because less people are attracted to the crowd funding platforms.

While this is in no way an announcement that we’re preparing a new Kickstarter campaign, I am genuinely wondering if we shouldn’t start reconsidering our position. There’s many advantages to starting a new game via Kickstarter. The main reason that we’re not doing a new campaign is that we don’t want to be seen as abusing the system.

Crowd funding is a wonderful invention and something that has changed the lives of many independent developers. It has rekindled innovation in an over-consolidated market where the traditional powers now have you pay extra to fight the coolest bosses. It should be cherished and protected at all costs and gamers would do well to prefer buying their games via crowd funding lest they find themselves playing games designed by whoever talks best at some marketing meeting.

So, if it indeed is the case that a return to crowd funding by past success stories helps boost the scene then I’m all pro. Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds.

I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts about this, especially if you’re somebody who crowd funded before. Is it ok for a company who’s enjoyed a certain level of success thanks to a crowd funding to return to crowd funding? Is it something that should be encouraged so that more people discover crowd funding? Or is something that should be discouraged because the pool of crowd funding is limited?

Share your thoughts!

  • Menthol_Penguin

    There is also an argument that you get better feedback from kickstarter backers as you get your games out, in some for or another, sooner. In that case you can start refining your game a lot earlier and get a feel for what people really want.

    I also think that people are more cautious on kickstarter now, there’s a lot of projects I won’t back because I’ve been burned too many times before, but I like Larian and you’ve delivered magnificently on your D:OS one so I’d pretty much always back your stuff. I feel like it was a bit of a bubble at first on kickstarter and it’s now slightly popped, leaving those that can really prove they can handle a kickstarter as reliable choices. Those that can’t, maybe won’t get backed again.

    I sort of think there’s a difference between Early Access and Kickstarter though, but the two could definitely be combined (well, that depends on how Early Access workds). Early Access is for when you have something but that something is not finished. Kickstarter is more for when you don’t have anything just yet, and therefore Early Access isn’t an option. It’s a bit simplified, you do need something working for a kickstarter to be successful. Maybe it’s possible to do a kickstarter to get to a beta stage, and then release onto Early Access and carry on from there, it’s probably not ideal though.

    All in all, I’m a fan of crowdfunding, I love getting to see games adapt and change and getting in early with them.

    Anyway, there’s a huge ramble for you, hopefully it’s coherent!

  • Andrew

    After DOS I am quite happy to donate again and I am sure any game you propose will benefit from the crowd. Crowdfunding tests the games appeal with the target market so even if it doesn’t work you can then refine your ideas going forward. But you guys will for sure succeed, have no doubt!

  • John Parkinson

    It’s perfectly ok for a company who has had crowd funding success to return to crowd funding. You’ve proven what you can do, you’ve proven it worked well bypassing the more traditional funding methods and that’s something I think people will be willing to support again *plus* more people who now know with much more certainty that you can be trusted with their money.

  • Geert van der Heide

    The discussion of whether establised studios could still use Kickstarter is very interesting, and you bring up some good arguments both in favour and against this idea. You’re very noble in wanting to leave the crowdfunding pool for other developers to fish in, but the Halo-effect may indeed be strong enough to warrant studios like Larian to continue using Kickstarter.

    Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with Larian using crowdfunding again. So long as you guys are clear in saying where your other funding is coming from, how the money comes together from different sources and why you’re asking for Kickstarter users to chip in. Many fans of Larian would be happy to throw money your way if it means we get better and bigger games from you guys. In my opinion, Kickstarter can be used both as the sole means of funding, as well as in combination with other sources (such as profits from previous games or funds from investors). There have been other Kickstarter projects who’ve said something like: “The game is already getting built regardless, but your backing us can make it that much better”. I see no problem with this, so long as its communicated clearly. And the smaller studios that are just starting out can benefit from the popularity of high-profile campaigns, both through the attention these bring to the Kickstarter platform and through “kicking it forward” (highlighting other studios’ projects to your fanbase).

    But whether you decide to fund the next game with or without the public’s help, I’m sure we’ll be seeing great things from Larian in the future. I’d back you again in a heartbeat. Thank you for another informative blog post!

  • http://www.NFOhump.com/ Sabin Figaro

    I posted this on another site, so I’m just reposting verbatim;

    Good read and it certainly made me think too. D:OS turned out to be, to put it bluntly, a masterpiece – and if relying on Kickstarter brings more titles like this? Well, I’m for it. There’s been a lot of high-profile failures lately, including some low-profile ones too, but at least Larian delivered on 90% of their promises (NPC schedules, day/night cycle, fewer companions, etc) and there’s very little chance of a Larian failure.

    ***There’s many advantages to starting a new game via Kickstarter and the main reason we abandoned the idea of a new campaign is that we don’t want to be seen as abusing the system***

    This bit is different though, I would absolutely agree that big publisher-backed companies would be seen to be abusing the system by running to KS (I’m actually looking at Obsidian here…..) to raise funds, but in the end … does it really matter anyhow? We obviously want these games and if KS is the only way to raise cash then so be it. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with Larian, or indeed most other development houses, using Kickstarter if publishers are unwilling to take the chance on backing it then I think we should. I also think that we need more high-profile SUCCESSES like Divinity or Wasteland 2, that will help counteract the growing negativity and burnout due to the failures.

  • Clément Polge

    First of all, hi, and congratulations on the release of Divinity, which is the best game I’ve played in a long while!

    I don’t have much to say about this subject, but I do want to say this: whatever road you decide to take, I’ll be supporting you, because your transparency and honesty throughout the whole process (both developing D:OS as well as your functioning as a company, like this very post) earned you my trust as well as, I’m sure, the trust of many other gamers, that you’ll do what you feel is right rather than what is easy/convenient/most profitable.

    If you go on kickstarter, I will back you, and spread the word, and I do believe that it could indeed create curiosity for smaller projects (I backed several projects that I only heard of from the KS newsletter of big projects).

    If you decide not to, I will probably still buy the game, and talk about it to my friends.

    Because in the end, it’s about trust, and you have mine.

  • Rasmus kristensen

    I would not mind another kickstarter, paying now or later is no big deal for me. But it all comes down to if the studio can keep the promises they make. saying we will make a RPG with 100 hours of main campaign and then realizing with 40 hours is not something i find interesting. So make a kickstarter and all the things that WILL be in it. But it might also be dangerous if the bigger studios decide to do kickstarter/pre-order 1-2 years before the game is out. It´s all up to the studios integrity.

  • Phil

    I don’t care what you use. If it means another game like Original Sin, it really doesn’t bother me. Not only are you one of the very few success stories from Kickstarter (for larger types of games), you created something that I hadn’t experienced for years. For a long time I enjoyed gaming, and then my enjoyment started to fade as the years went on. I constantly questioned whether or not I had grown out of it. I didn’t play as much and I became less and less excited with games.

    However… this year, between Divinity: Original Sin and Wasteland 2 that has all changed. I stay up night after night playing until all hours of the morning.

    What you create is what I beleive games should be like, and what I also beleive they would have been like if gaming hadn’t been dominated by the masses. We NEED more games like this, and more importantly, developers like you.

    If you use Kickstarter, I will pledge again. No question about it. Just please keep the physical goods as I love your collector’s editions.

    Thanks.

    • Marcin Mika

      Hey Phil! I suppose you will enjoy Pillars of Eternity as well. The sad news is that there is one but. In 2015 there won’t be such many good RPG as in this year. I believe only Witcher 3 will meet my expectations

      • Fox

        Pillars of Eternity got knocked back to 2015. Thankfully. God only knows what Obsidian was thinking, giving themselves only 4 months to take a game from an alpha build to release.

        And in addition to Witcher 3, there are also several big JRPGs due out in 2015. So it looks to be a good year, too.

    • chickenhed

      +1. Well said. It doesn’t matter to me what Larian uses to fund their games. If it’s crowdfunding, I will back it. No questions asked. Original Sin is utterly and totally spectacular. I will throw money at the screen to get another game like it. Whether its a sequel, expansion, or new title.

  • Yonan

    The Divinity Kickstarter was managed well and produced a great game. If Larian has another game they want to make that I also want to play I’ll happily pledge on kickstarter again. Proven track records on kickstarter help a lot with securing funding so it should hopefully be even easier to convince people to back next time. There are “kickstarter companies” in tabletop gaming such as Mantic that fund multiple large product lines one after another via kickstarter and while game development takes a lot longer, it’s not a stretch to posit that video game companies could too. If Larian also goes digital only (an important lesson you learned iirc) that should improve the process substantially on your end too. Generic FPS #847 won’t fund via kickstarter but great under-served genres will continue to fund however I think – there’s a lot of older gamers around that are willing to pay (and risk) a little to get something the industry seems hesitant to produce.

  • Andy

    Without crowdfunding, Divinity Original Sin wouldn’t have been what it had become now. Look at all the reviews, all the praising, and those happy posts and then free DLC came out, priceless.. or is it? If you had half your budget, think of how far you would’ve come. We people love your game, and as it turns out.. it’s a great one. I backed you for a reason, and i’ll do it again. I’d rather pledge my money to a company listening to their audience rather than a moneygrabbing corporation. I’m sure many will agree with me.

    Swallow your pride, and do what’s best for everyone! keep your employees happy, keep your audience happy, and if you’re personally still not happy afterwards, I am out of suggestions.

    • Andy

      Wait, I do have another suggestion.

      Release a vague CGI trailer of Divinity 4, and have people pre-order it. After 2 years, release 70% of it, and sell the last 30% as 6 seperate annual release DLC’s.

      • Marcin Mika

        That’s brilliant! I hire you!

  • Aysir

    I think coming back to Kickstarter would be could for the crowd-funding platform. It’s a good way to communicate with a wide fan-base and like you said, it will help other projects gain notice. Most people don’t come to Kickstarter and find the little projects – they go there for the big ones and then stumble across the lesser known ones.

  • Kieron Henry

    I think people’s biggest concern when crowd funding is the uncertianty of the final product (And if there will be one)

    I think from the amazing game you guys produced, going another kick start will bring a lot of attention and I know for one I would get in on that :)

  • Ossi Hurme

    Personally I’ve only backed three games. All of them had gameplay to show (you guys being the first of them).
    Still not gonna back based on just ideas and concept art no matter how great you guys are.

  • Tynam

    Speaking personally… about half of all the Kickstarters I’ve backed in the last two years were linked from some _other_ project I’d already backed. So I think the “halo effect” idea has a lot of merit.

    Certainly, I only heard of / backed Divinity due to other Kickstarters I was involved with; and in return, your endorsements led me to others of interest.

  • Ryan

    You should do both. Try to finance yourselves while at the same time using Kickstarter to ensure you have what you need to make an even better game this time around and can continue as an amazing and independent studio. Just try to upgrade the quality of Kickstarter rewards and we’ll keep investing. As a Kickstarter investor who has invested in a large number of projects, I believe that consultants report is wrong about the game funding and it is because of lack of quality games currently attempting crowd funding right now and the failure of some unknown brands to make good on their promises . Divinity and Wasteland and a few other major success stories are enough to keep us coming back so definitely consider it.

  • Paweł Fijałkowski

    I just want to mention, that D:OS got higher User Score on Metacritic than Wasteland 2, Broken Age or Shadowrun Returns – all of which earned more funding than D:OS. So, we should consider your game as a good example of a truly successful and promise fulfilling Kickstarter project! Come back to Kickstarter. Don’t make us ask to take our moneys :D

  • Paul Bucy

    I think by crowdfunding you have the ability to go in and give the people a better game by giving them what they are asking for instead of developing the game in a insulated environment.

  • ThePockyPrince

    I wish I had the money at the time to support you, but I didn’t. I would be perfectly willing to throw cash your way, more as a prepurchase than anything, but little extras are always nice too. What you’ve done with Original Sin is prove that you can be as trusted as your company has always been, and – even if something should go wrong – you’d be there first apologising, and righting the situation. I’d say go for it, it’s not abuse if you have support enough to complete a Kickstarter! :)

  • Blob

    I’ve largely kicked(!) my Kickstarter habit, but I still back the occasional project and I’m more inclined to back someone who has proved themselves (e.g. Larian) if the pitch is interesting, rather than inexperienced developers who frequently bite off more than they can chew, although I’ll make an exception for a really interesting pitch if I think it could use the encouragement and support, even at the much higher risk of failure.

    I suppose the big exception was InXile. I know not everyone was happy to back their second project until they’d seen the first one finished, but I considered them a very special case.

    Anyway, it’s not like Larian are suggesting overlapping projects for crowd funding and I don’t consider you’d be “milking” the system. If you made another good pitch in an area I am interested in I can almost guarantee you my money. Just no platformers for me, thank you.

  • Icinix

    While I definitely appreciate and understand your original commentary on why you shouldn’t return to Kickstarter, the last couple of months have shown why it’s important that larger more polished groups like yourselves should have some involvement with it.

    Prior to some highly publicised crowd funding scams there was a lot of coverage across most media for Kickstarter productions and as such a lot of money was poured into this endeavors and we are now bearing the fruit from that. Now though, increasingly sights are turning away from coverage of it for fear of being an accessory to a scam or just being associated with them in such a negative way. As such, some fantastic pieces of art are being left behind to attempt to make it in an already saturated traditional market model. A market model which simply doesn’t have the capacity or flexibility to support and cover the number of items it should.

    It also means those successful are more likely to fall in line when it comes to development practices that may not be the best suited for consumers. Copious paid DLC and DRM are two that spring to mind readily.

    If groups like yourselves continue to be involved, it continues to not only stand as a beacon which brings others in, but raises the overall quality and encourages good business practice and provides alternatives for those who want to avoid those traditional methods.

    Right now the games I’m playing are Wasteland 2, Banner Saga, Original Sin and Star Citizen.

    It’s more than just coincidence that the four games stealing my time (and for the last couple of months) are all from Kickstarter. It’s because they’re free to be art. They’re free to be good for the consumer.

    You don’t have to use Kickstarter to do the whole game – but by staying involved with it and programs like kick it forward – you’re going to help ensure more quality art makes it way from concept to final.

  • Claven

    It’s perfectly okay in your case, Swen. You have proven you will deliver a quality game in more or less the promised time frame, but most importantly, that your efforts are absolutely worth investing into.
    I regret not having backed DOS (although I have bought it on release day) and will definitely trust Larian with my money should you indeed return to crowdfunding.

  • Minttunator

    I say yes. Sure, there is less easy money to be made on KS now but someone with Larian’s cred will still make some money, no matter what. Hell, inXile went back to KS before even finishing their first KS game and they made 4M on Torment – granted, that was the sequel to the greatest video game of all time, but it still shows that if you have an appealing project people will support you. It also gives your new game a ton of visibility and publicity, which is never a bad thing, right?

    Especially if you follow the same model that you did with D:OS (i.e. mostly financing it yourself and using the KS funds to enhance/improve/expand the game) I don’t think many would complain. From a personal perspective – after how great D:OS turned out I would gladly give you guys more of my money for a new KS and I’m sure many D:OS players agree.

    A small suggestion, if I may: I recall you saying that you were burned
    out with doing the physical rewards – you should probably look into
    outsourcing that part of the process so you can focus more on the game
    itself.

    PS: You really should post on the Codex more! :p

  • http://thevproject.blogspot.com/ MaJu V.

    “The main reason that we’re not doing a new campaign is that we don’t want to be seen as abusing the system.”
    That’s such a Flemish way of thinking :-)
    Personally, I loved Divinity OS and wouldn’t mind another Kickstarter Project. But keep in mind that you don’t set your own goals too high and deliver on what you promise. ;-)
    The problem with Kickstarter (and other user donation sites) is that there are several projects that gathered a lot of attention, but end up failing to deliver. People will remember those projects more than the many successes that Kickstarter already made possible (like Pebble, the Oculus Rift, this game, etc).
    So not only would you benefit from the return to Kickstarter (you’ve already proven yourself once, so it’ll be easier to gain trust from backers), Kickstarter itself would benefit from your return as you would become some sort of poster child for the site (whether you like that or not).

  • Joel Finch

    I don’t have a “Kickstarter only” budget that I must spend on crowd-funded projects no matter what, so whether Larian offers a new Kickstarter or not, it doesn’t mean someone else will get backed by me. I back the things I like, whether by Kickstarting before they’re made, or buying after they’re made. I actually prefer the Kickstarter approach because I hate wasted effort and resources and I only want things to get made that people actually want. Kickstarter lets customers vote very directly, in a way that traditional methods don’t allow. My view: Kickstart again.

  • Roman Zorin

    Guys.

    I’ve played almost all your games over the years and had tremendous fun with them. After Original Sin I would gladly give you money on any platform you are going to launch.

    One thing I believe is worth mentioning – kickstarter needs more games funded via it that ROCK. You launch kickstarter, you make promises, you keep them. That is what YOU do. That will help to increase trust to games crowd funding.

  • Washington Irving

    I’ve pondered this too, why go Kickstarter when you have Early Access? Isn’t EA pretty much the same, only for less hassle? (minus the “DRM is satan!” people) You sold more copies on EA, after all.

    All in all, it seems to me that a properly presented KS is better than no KS – you’ll probably still make a million or so for something like D:OS because it’s a cheap preorder, you can get swag / collector’s items, and it feels good for your fans. The marketing effect would also probably enhance the EA sales.

    Ethically, it would be best if it were a kickstarter for something more strange and risky, like say Dragon Commander. OTOH it probably wouldn’t do as well as your ‘flagship’ RPG.

    Otherwise you can just set up a Founders program like Stardock’s. For their next game in the Elemental series, it was pretty much a 50% discount, and a Founder’s Vault with access to design documents, internal communicates, screenshots etc.

    Anyway, it’s a tough choice. There ought to be a platform called ‘Prestarter’ that lets you gauge interest for kickstarters and feedback for the pre-launch phase :)

    • Phil Elliott

      Check out Square Enix Collective – it’s a platform a bit like the Prestarter idea you’re talking about.

      • Washington Irving

        That’s pretty neat.

        Some comments:

        - Take off the “This is where the magic happens…” paragraph, or make it a once-off thing, it’s annoying to see it on every project page.

        - Grey font is hard to read. Unless you don’t want us to read.
        - Gallery display – should play video if you click anywhere, not just the play button in the centre
        - Not sure if possible, but maybe incentivize people by ear-marking early bird slots?

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/adam.skinner Adam Skinner

    There is no onus on you to use a third party site to secure funding, regardless of the beneficial knock-on effects of doing so to others.

    You should use Kickstarter if you think it makes sense. If there’s a better solution out there that will better help you secure funding and/or be less of a hassle, then by all means use it. Your job is to get good games out of the door, not to be a poster boy.

  • Fimbul

    i’m a kickstarter backer and backed quite some games in the past as some other projects. i, for myself don’t back so much and by far not that high anymore. this has different reasons. there are not so many of my taste, the campaigns got less catchy lately, there is a lack of high quality, imo. and i got more cautious because of mixed expiriences.
    many projects don’t fulfill the high expectations they seed. this is partially the problem of “selling” an idea and that everyone has an other picture how it should be. then is the general quality which is often questionable and that you have to wait way longer than first promised.

    i got more wary in terms of fulfillment and promisses, even i’m mostly the only digital guy. but when i see the goals and the stretch goals, for what little money they want to include stuff, then i barely belive they can make it and think it will end in disaster.

    in generall are the backers less generous imo, because of my reasons or others. maybe they just wanna see and play what they already backed before they do more (as me). campaigns that try it a second time with better presentation and lower goal have problem to succeed, even their goal is under the amount of pledges they got in their first try. this was different just a year ago, where a restart often brougth the wanted success.

    in my opinion should larian go back to kickstarter, quality is much needed there. DOS was the best i got from kickstarter. Battle Worlds: Kronos was quite ok. for the most other games i’m still waiting, from some i never heard again.
    my kickstarter profil is Fimbul too, if you want to check what i backed.

  • Vilyaroo

    I backed Original Sin and I’d definitely back a similar game again, regardless of if it’s the company’s first or 500th time using Kickstarter.

    Kickstarter is great because it really gives you a closer “bond” to the game or project, as you actually helped funding it from the beginning rather than simply buying it once it was finished. I think it’s great to get your audience involved like you did last time, and there’s nothing that makes people feel involved as much as them feeling they invested in the making of the game. At least it works that way for me!

  • DagonsLair

    A few thoughts :
    - Your successful Kickstarter campaign, your great game quality and your excellent game support will make people who already pledge for you, do it again (I’ll do it for sure).
    - Having too many project pledged, but not yet released makes people restrain to pledge for new projects. The pool of crowdunding is limited, you’re true.
    - There IS a halo effect, when huge projects are successful, it makes people know kickstarter works, however…
    - …there is ALSO a kickstarter erosion, it’s a fact. People pledge less for less projects (it’s not “new stuff” anymore, and some projects burned some backer enthusiasm),

    So there’s no bad option.

    Swen, I think you are asking yourself too many questions. If you NEED kickstarter for your next game to be up to your quality standards, or if it allows you to make the game you want, just do it. If you don’t need kickstarter and you have enough money to make the game you want to do, just don’t.

    Plain & simple.

  • Arild Jacobsen

    It would certainly be interesting to see if a second Kickstarter by a proven party would be more or less successful. The success of crowdfunding (both the individual projects and the concept itself) is dependent on trust, and I think the more trustworthy parties prove the efficacy of the concept, the more public trust will be available for the smaller projects as well. You may be disadvantaged by an expectation that you’ll surpass your previous project (a tall order indeed!), so you’ll need to do good expectation management or alternately blow us all away by doing even better the second go around ;)

  • Alex

    I have greatly enjoyed using Kickstarter since I found it, and while it is true that some of the projects have been small independent games I more looks for games that I want to play and use it as a chance to ‘pre-purchase’ them. I feel that this is a good use of Kickstarter and should not just be limited to small independent companies. I like being more involved in the games as they develop, but more I like having a say in what the developers choose to put out there and with Kickstarter I get a voice. If you put out a game that I have no interst in playing then I won’t fund it, I also won’t buy it should it get funded, but if it is a game I am looking forward to playing I will fund it (or at the very least watch it and get it when I have funds available). Even if you can make your game with in house money I would still recommend posting on Kickstarter. Help great an early enthusiams for your game. Get people who want to be Beta players in at ground floor where they can help out right off. Personally I would have gotten Divinity Origina Sin at some point if I hadn’t funded it, but that may have been after it hit a 75% discount in the future, I think that the $45 I payed for the game (and extra copy for my brother) was well worth it not only for the game but to be part of the process.

    I hope that you keep with Kickstarter as well because I want Kickstarter to keep being a place that people can go to to fund and pitch there games.

  • enderandrew

    I’m a big proponent of crowd funding and Kickstarter. I blame the media for saying there are tons of high profile failures and scaring people away. Sites like Kotaku almost daily say that you should avoid Kickstarter because it is all scams and failures, when in reality I think only 2 of the top 100 funded games on Kickstarter failed to deliver. Both were audacious projects from people who never made games before.

    2% failure isn’t anything that should scare people away.

  • LC

    I think there is one aspect about which you haven’t talked so far, Swen: PR and the word of mouth.

    Kickstarter and crowdfunding isn’t just about getting the money you need for a project, it has proven its worth as a valuable instrument to gain public awareness and to attract a loyal fanbase as well. You asked yourself why Divinity: Original Sin was so successful although there almost wasn’t any kind of marketing effort during its release period. And you said it yourself: it was mainly the word of mouth of the backers and fans of the project (which includes games journalists) which drove sales. How was that possible?

    Well, if you ask me you perfectly used kickstarter (both during the original campaign and later in many of your updates) to present the qualities of your game as much as your capabilities and qualities as a developer. You established Larian as a game developer who values honesty, transparency and sympathy. Many people of your target audience now speak of Larian in the same sentence with CD Projekt Red when it comes to “good” developers and customer friendlyship. I doubt that would be the case without the kickstarter campaign and your frequent video updates.

    Of course it helped a lot that you made an almost perfect kickstarter pitch in my books: you presented a working prototype with a strong vision already in place, you presented yourself as a capable and symathetic developer and you just asked for a friction of the funds needed for the game. That last point brings me to my own recommendations for the future. You aks yourself whether you take away funds from other projects. Well, it’s hard to answer. Something like the Halo effect is definitely possible, but it’s just a theory and we don’t know for sure whether it applies in any case and how big its effect would be for a certain project, especially compared to other effects like funding drain from other projects. But I think there is a reasonable way to use the benefits of the Halo effect without threatening other projects at the same time: use kickstarter again but more for the benefits of PR than for the benefits of funding. Use you own money or search for private investors to secure funding for the biggest part or the core game itself before you come to kickstarter to ask for some additional funds for something you we call stretch goals (like you already did for Divinity: Original Sin). In a very positive scenario that would lead to a better and bigger game, a valuable interaction with the community and also to a Halo effect, leading people to kickstarter again without asking for too much money to drain possible funding of other projects.

    About other possibilities: I don’t think something like Steam Early Access is capable of delivering the same “positive emotional connection” than kickstarter does. Early Access is a valuable tool to secure funding and to gain feedback from early adopters and fans but it’s quite weak in communication and PR. On the opposite, for some or even many people Early Access has still a negative feel, more about ripping off customers than interacting with them. I don’t know a single Early Access game that was capable of creating such a positive energy than a lot of the good kickstarter campaigns I took part in. In terms of creating a loyal fanbase and establishing yourself as a customer-driven independent developer kickstarter is worth evey penny, even if you only as for a little amount of money.

    In the end you’ve already proven to be capable of running a successful kickstarter campaign. For you as an indie developer kickstarter is imo extremely valuable, even more for PR and fanbase building and strengthening than for money itself, and for the whole crowdfunding world a new Larian kickstarter campaign could indeed create a Halo effect if the campaign is set up with the right parameters (funding goal not too high, good tier management). So my recommendation is that you should really think again if you really want to avoid kickstarter for your new project. If you’re able to come up with a similar strong alternative to kickstarter in terms of community building and early interaction go for it. If not think again if it’s really the right thing to deny yourself the possibility to run another successful kickstarter campaign and to strengthen your own company and trademark just for the sake of a possible (but not confirmed) drain of funds from other crowdfunding projects. In the end, you as a CEO of Larian have a responsibility for your company and employees first and you should care about your own and their success, don’t you think?

  • Viggo

    It IS okay as long as their intentions are good.

    As for abusing Kickstarter… it serves backers as well – when a game is crowd funded there won’t be any cases of marketing departments messing things up, “This game needs more dubstep – kids these days love that.”, “If you want your bills paid, you’re gonna start charging people for red boots DLC!” blah blah blah.

  • http://dreamingxashley.deviantart.com/ Aisling

    I’d be happy to donate to a Kickstarter for DOS if it meant that you would make the game fully mod-able this time…

  • Somewhat Swedish

    I think its perfectly fine, I kickstarted a lot of projects, Original Sin, Wasteland, Tides of Numenera, Project Eternity, Shadowrun, Star Citizen, Star Command, Broken Sword, Doublefine Adventure and Massive Chalice. What is common for all these projects is that they promised to deliver something that I was craving. So if you are going to attempt something new, then by all means go kickstart and do the pitch. It is a good way to learn if people are interested in your concept.

    Personally I dont care about the alphas and betas though, I kickstart because I believe in the vision and hope to enjoy the complete product when it arrives. I do not want to ruin my own experience by participating in tests when there are plenty of finished games I could spend my time playing instead.

  • Darthdavy

    I think it’s very ok for a company to return to crow funding who already enjoyed a successful crowd funded project. However I can certainly understand a company doesn’t want to crowd fund a project again if they are financially capable of funding their own project. Crowd funding is something that must be encouraged as much as possible. Crowd funded thrives on the masses and how more people engage themselves into crowd funding how better the phenomenon can be evaluated and how better a company can evaluate their project when they want to turn to crowd funding. The pool of crowd funding is indeed limited but I don’t believe or think that limit is reached yet. There is also another way at looking it: if a company can’t crowd fund its product, is the product than really worth making?

  • Jonathan

    I feel like Crowd funding has a lot of benefits. I feel like developers listen to the wants of their audience more closely when funding is tied to them. I don’t think Original Sin would have been as great as it was had it not been for the open alpha/beta and the kickstarter.

    If a new kickstarter also leads to other projects getting backed, that is good too.

  • Bonsaimancer

    Just do it, Swen ;)

  • Arthur Ganem

    D:OS is my first experience on Kickstarter and I loved it from the start till the end. I think this is the future of gaming. Maybe with more interactions between devs and gamers. (Check out what Amplitude studio did with Endless Legend).

    Please continue and lead the way ! ;)

  • bunimomike

    Whatever you do, just make sure it’s reciprocal. From a single, large-sum investor to a Kickstarted project full of thousands of fans, it’s all about looking after each other. Just like any other healthy relationship. I believe you Kickstarted the last 25% of Original Sin and perhaps that’s the way to go for the next project. Fund a lot of it yourself but recognise when you need a bit of (our) help.

    Whilst I’m new to your games (starting with Original Sin) it was so good that I would definitely join in with other Kickstarters if you went down this route once more and I’ve not Kickstarted anything until (potentially) now.

    Hopefully, whether it’s funded partially/wholly by the fans or from investors/profits you have, you’ll always listen to the fans and take on board the precious feedback that can elevate it to greatness. Equally, to ignore feedback when it comes from the vocal minority. That can ruin things.

    Best of luck with whatever you do. You have made yourself a very loyal fan with Original Sin. Long may my excited trepidation continue for whatever you do next. :-)

  • Korron

    I don’t think it was fair to tie the financial interest of private investors and the goodwill of backers together in a project. D:OS was rushed (noticeably so) because of it. However, I don’t think turning to kickstarter again is unfair. I think most backers just back the projects they want to see created, and that’s not at the expense of backing another smaller project. I at least don’t back most smaller projects because I feel they over promise on small budgets (the few I have backed are because I’m now part of the ecosystem), and don’t have the experience to manage scope. Although it’s becoming clear that this is an issue with large developers as well without the crack of the publisher whip. Maybe steam early access or independently crowdfunding your project are better routes if you feel hesitant.

    • LC

      D:OS was rushed because of kickstarter??? Please explain.

      • Korron

        No, financial pressure from outside investment caused Larian to release before they were ready.

        • LC

          Well, without kickstarter the game would have been released MONTHS before it was released so your argumentation is imo very weak here. But yes, they finally had to ship the game because they’d made contracts with distributors and they’d already pushed the release back several times. I don’t see why this is in any way unfair to either private investors or backers. It’s imo just a reality of game development that you have to ship a game and that you can’t develop and polish it forever without making substantial income.

          • Korron

            Guess they should have asked for more money to meet their promises then, huh? Obviously I backed it, and didn’t think it was a problem knowing that initially. I’m sorry, but if you think the oblique journal entries and poorly designed pixel hunting puzzles to progress the primary storyline aren’t a result of poor iteration due to rushing the product out to market then I can’t help you. Wasting time on tasks that are objectively not fun is poor design. It was clear that large swaths of the game were not polished even if there are parts I really enjoyed (like Cyseal). My argument is based on what Swen admits in his previous blog post. I don’t begrudge that being a reality of game development, but I do think it is entirely unfair to let pressure from private investors influence the release of a product that you’ve solicited a community of fans to preemptively provide funding for. If Larian pitches a new KS, and says we’re going to independently fund the rest of this development when the KS money runs out, I’d back that.

          • LC

            It makes no sense to discuss with you. You seem to misinterpret your personal opinions as facts and so there is no topic to talk about. Have a nice day.

          • Korron

            Nice talking to you as well buddy. Thanks for the riveting conversation. I just didn’t put my blinders on and check my ability to criticize the game at the gate because “oh this is a callback to oldschool rpgs”. Even if there was some things to like about the game, I think the whole experience is lacking. Mark my words, Larian wouldn’t have received the critical praise that it did if journalists weren’t rushing to get their reviews out the gate, and didn’t respond to fans initial reactions. The late game was not fun, and the transition to Luculla Forest was terrible. Fanboy gonna fanboy though.

          • LC

            You don’t criticize you still think that your opinion was somehow an objective fact (hint: it’s not). Nobody says that you have to like the game. But many people do and perhaps you should just accept that instead of searching for excuses like “they rushed the game” or “they rushed the reviews”. Imo both is not true. There were even reviews appearing two months after release which praised the game.

            If you already think that your opinion is fact and everyone else is wrong why even talking? There is nothing left to discuss then. Again, it’s pointless.

          • Korron

            I don’t remember soliciting you for an opinion, but you’ve clearly staunchly defended this game from the beginning. “A lot of people liked it, therefore your experience is invalid” isn’t an argument. My opinion of the overall quality of the game and what lead to it is subjective (again I’m mirroring a lot of what Swen said in the previous blog post though), but some of the game design choices were objectively not good and affected my enjoyment of the game. Or do you mean to tell me you enjoyed hunting for hidden switches with a frustrating camera to progress the story? You didn’t find yourself constantly going online to find solutions? Here is a comment from a positive reviewer: “I’ve been referencing guides while playing Divinity. So many quests have obscure, weird solutions. I’ve enjoyed the game more this way”, and they go on to give it a pass and a good score. My observations are shared by a lot of people who have retroactively decided the game wasn’t that great upon completion, and I do suspect Swen’s last blog was an explanation for those shortcomings. The design choices on top of the dozens of times my game locked up, crashed, and entered a non-exitable combat state on the release day and weeks after has lead me to conclude they rushed it, but frankly I’m not here to convince you of this. Larian is fixing the game, but I don’t appreciate them setting a release date and then not delivering in a lot of ways that could have been avoided. I don’t have time to restart playthroughs of games anymore, and I would have had a better experience with this game if I’d waited a year after release to buy it. I’m still going to buy Larian games that are good after they’ve been “released” and patched, but if they come to KS to ask for more money they better have a better plan to see this game through to completion upon release if they want my money. I bet your European. You have a very European brand of smugness.

        • Logan Rogers-Follis

          Pure KS backing would be the best method with no other “outside investors” to muddy the waters. Still I do not see any signs of “rushing” from Larian on D:OS, but instead a company that knows there will be bugs and are right there taking care of them.

  • Paulli

    I’m a early backer and I followed every step of the way with great enthusisasm and great interest. I was delighted to have the opportunity to play the game at the studio and have a dialogue with you guys. Sadly I haven’t launched the game since it was released. I’m sure it’s linked to the fulness of my schedule but I also think I had too much information. So, rest assured if you ever make another campaign, I will back you up due to the sheer awesomeness of your games and your great spirit and kindness but I probably won’t watch everything so as not to spoil the game for myslef.

  • Washington Irving

    The nearly unanimous comments here pretty much prove that it’s a good idea to go KS again. Hell, even the RPG Codex was positive about it.

    Some talking points for the new campaign:
    -”Back by popular demand! You, our fans, asked for it!”
    -”Join us in crafting the next Larian offering! And get it for 30% off retail price.”
    -”Did we mention cool swag?” (btw, you have to do better than the last kickstarter this time…)

    You should also look into letting the fans get more deeply involved. For instance, with editing tools out, you could hold a contest for users to create a concept area / module and use some of the KS funding to help make an official DLC / expansion out of the best one. Could be exciting stuff.

    As a final note, you should first do good on all the stretch goals you promised for D:OS – schedules and Phantom Forest dungeon.

  • Jacob Marner

    I backed the kickstarter at one of the higher tier ($600) and I did not regret it. Kickstarter was great for DOS, but now that you have paved the way and made some money I don’t think Kickstarter is a good choice. You will just be considered greedy by some critics. If you want community feedback you should go with Steam early access instead.

  • Kozzy12

    You guys did Kickstarter the way it is suppose to be done, I would LOVE to help support the next Larian game. Rethink you’re stance on Kickstarter imo! Loved DOS and Wasteland 2! Keep up the good work!

  • Martine

    Bonjour,

    Le jeu est magnifique et très bon, très fun à jouer.
    Au début j’ai trouver que le jeu est difficile mais après quelques lvl la prise en main c’est fait et ça n’a été par la suite que du bonheur !!

    Merci..

  • Dimitar Georgiev

    DOS was my first Kickstarter funding campaign(thankfully not my first Larian game) I think your version of Kickstarter funding is the right way to go by your version I mean making the game with what funds you secured and then finishing the development cycle with help from Kickstarter,for me personally your way of including your fans in alpha & beta stages of the game and asking them for their opinion is the way to go.

    In my opinion the future of game design is lying in communicating with people while the game develops of course that doesn’t mean the developer should be answering fan boy complaints all the time because this would lead to tossing out the original idea for the game that was established by the studio.

    I personally am not only willing but for sure am going to donate if there are any future Larian Kickstarter(or something similar to it)campaigns.Oh and also I would love to see Kirill finally getting his orchestra such damn shame he got sick and is he alright?

    Also lastly I want to thank to everyone in Larian studios because you are my favorite developer along with CDProject Red and for me personally your Kickstarter campaign was one of the most entertaining things I have experienced to this day I still scream of of joy every time I see there is an update.

  • Fox

    Re: Kickstarter’s decline: I think it was inevitable. Partly due to the high profile failures, but also because there are really only so many developers out there consumers can or should trust. Especially considering how most Kkickstarter proposals are for projects that are only in pre-development and have very little to show, and are woefully under budgeted. Your proposal for DOS was by far the best proposal I’d seen on Kick start writhe game had already been in development for a long while and what little you showed of it was crazy impressive. But if that proposal had come from anyone other than Larian, I probably would not have donated. I’d have said, “Its too ambitious and you don’t have a track record of ever developing anything like this before.”

    Most KS games, even those few with big names attached, come from Indy Dev teams that have never published a single game before. That’s a problem.

    I think the real measure of KS will come when (or if) the big successes try to repeat for a sequel. I think InXile or Obsidian or Larian going back to kickstarter will indicate whether or not KS will continue to be a viable funding model. I think it will.

    But this is one case where Marian’s low public I visibility hurts everyone. DOS really is the model/quintessential success story, yet its overshadowed frequently by the big failures, Tim Schafer, and good, but much less ambitious games like Wasteland 2. I think there’s more I should say to articulate my opinion here, but its hard to type for very long on a touch keyboard so I’m going to move on and wrap this comment up quickly.

    ___________________________________________

    The big question is: what should Larian do next? Well, my immediate response is: I trust you. You haven’t made a bad game yet, and in fact you have established a pattern of consistently making games bigger and better.

    Personally, I’m greatly hoping to see either a DOS expansion or sequel. I love the engine and cannot imagine the elemental magic ever getting old. If you decide to do a wholly new game, I think you should do the same as you did with DOS: build up a solid alpha, then come to KS (if necessary) to make it bigger and better.

    If (and I’d prefer this eventuality–I said that, right?) you do a DOS sequel or expansion, I’d say do the same thing: make what you can with what you can, and if you think you need more money to make it better, come to crowd funding.

    ______________________________________

    Thee one big problem I see with KS isn’t practical, its ethical. We already see this from our Most Hated Publishers like EA and Square Enix, where they are attempting to get crowd funding for games they could easily finance themselves. In short, I think that if you have the money to develop a project on your own, you should do so; using crowd funding for resources you don’t really need is unethical. From what you’ve said, Seen, DOS sold very well… and you’ve already got a very solid engine built. So it really comes down to this: can you afford to finance your next game ENTIRELY by yourselves, or not?

    • Phil Elliott

      Square Enix isn’t trying to Kickstart our own games; Collective is about trying to give independent teams access to our channels. We take a small fee for the work we put into that, but we don’t take any IP or creative control over projects, nor force anybody to work with us if they don’t want to. We’re supporting those teams, nothing more.

  • Robert Bocian

    Hi Swen . first of all , please forgive me for my language – i learned english using a computer -just that -no school , anyway , i think , wrong – im 100% sure that wchich way you choose to develop new game (via kickstarter , or founded by yourselves) it will be ok , no abusing here , Larian has a history , you made very good games , and we gamers trust you , so if the kickstarter can help you develop something fresh -so why not using it ? , ,

    • Fox

      Your English is pretty good, especially if it was self-taught.

  • Arne

    First off, sorry to disappoint you, haven’t crowd funded a project of my own, just a backer here. Second, what’s all the fuss with this “crowdfunding” concept anyway? If crowdfunding is what Kickstarter does, then it is by it’s own description (from the backer POV)

    “”"”"”"”"”What do backers get in return?

    Backers that support a project on Kickstarter get an inside look at the creative process, and help that project come to life. They also get to choose from a variety of unique rewards offered by the project creator. Rewards vary from project to project, but often include a copy of what is being produced (CD, DVD, book, etc.) or an experience unique
    to the project. Project creators keep 100% ownership of their work, and Kickstarter cannot be used to offer equity, financial returns, or to solicit loans.

    What are the fees?

    If a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter applies a 5% fee to the funds collected.”"”"”"”"”"

    The way I see it, and please, correct me if I’m wrong, crowd funding is just a fancy way of preordering, and frankly, that’s been done for ages. No shame in doing that again. It’s just a ‘modern’ way of preordering, that’s been made possible through latest internet innovations. And it’s one way that is directed very directly toward the client. The things people enjoy by crowd funding would be

    (*) The excitement of stretch goals

    (*) Order the game for a discount

    (*) Get access to *exclusive* content (mostly digital, so reduced costs for developers)

    (*) Get regular updates on progress

    (*) Have a community with both the developers as other backers

    You have stated in a number of posts before Larian is doing a lot of things by it’s own lately, like for instance, not relying on publishers anymore, and it has paid off until now. So let me ask you a question: if you were indeed to fish in ‘the pool’ once more, would you consider to do this by yourself and not through a third party like Kickstarter? It’s not that you don’t have the means to do so! And there were drawbacks with Kickstarter, obviously:

    (*) To get more funds DOS was included in Steam’s early access. The number of backers has an upper limit, and so does the available number of pledges, and there’s only one month.

    (*) There’s a fee to pay, and Larian is supposed to fund other projects on KS as well (or was that not required, but you just did it anyway? In that case, bravo!)

    (*) There’s the extra fuss that naturally comes with dealing through third parties

    In conclusion, do I think you should go crowd-funding again? Is the pool going to run dry? I never believed there was a pool, nor that crowd funding is in it’s essence anything new, so if you can guarantee the same quality (or better) of handling things the way you did with DOS (including regular updates, guarantee the game really is going to be released, making clear from the beginning what can be expected of the game and what not, a prototype demo presentation, shipment and preorder bonuses) then hell yeah, why not? That’s something people here agree on at least.

    PS : can you please release any news from your latest project? I haven’t contributed to Larian’s forum for over 3 months since the game’s release, and I really, really miss all the people’s excitement, discussions and chats on an unpublished game. Nowadays it’s just bugs and hints involving quests, which is awfully boring. The Forum Well Has Run Dry! Please Refill!

    PPS : I do believe the prototype is very important, but some people apparently do not. With Original Sin we had a very clear idea of what the game was going to be, and I can imagine you would have had much more discontent backers if it had just been a fan art compilation as Kickstarter presentation video. Am I correct to assume you got to Kickstarter when your own funds started diminishing? That was an exemplary way to go! The question if you should rely on crowd funding funds from the very beginning, I guess it’s clear from my statements it’s not the way I prefer, but there seem to be plenty enough opinions from other people here already, I’ll leave it to them :)

    • Fox

      The pool is the fact that there is a finite number of backers with finite funds. Then you consider that not all projects are created equal: higher-profile projects may increase Kickatarter’s visibility as a financing platform, but they also soak up a lot of that pool. For every $1,000,000 that gets donated to Larian or Obsidian or Lord British or wherever, that’s maybe $10,000 that does NOT get donated to Random Indy Dev Team #12.

      For example, Project Phoenix is a game of the type I adore. But its being developed by a company with zero experience. The big names attached to the project probably would have been enough to get me to donate…. But Larian and Obsidian both had KS projects, too, for games equally “up my alley.” So what do I do? I take what little free income I have and give it to the developers who have a proven history–whom I know to be reliable. So I supported Pillars of Eternity and Original Sin at the expense ofroject Phoenix.

      Multiply my individual case by several tens of thousands: you can see how some developers worry about crowd funding being a well ready to run dry.

      • LC

        Well, Steam kind of proves every day that the Halo effect works. That’s the core principle of their “we let you activate external keys on our platform” philosophy. They don’t earn a single buck by that directly but they rely on the Halo effect which indicates that people likely buy other games once they are on the platform. It’s the same principle on kickstarter. Once you get interested by a high profile project on kickstarter you likely stop by once a day or once a week and it’s likely that you also search a bit through the kickstarter catalogue which you wouldn’t possibly do if you didn’t already back another game.

        So yes, the pool theory is true but for a certain audience, namely people who regularly back projects on kickstarter and look into new project on a regular basis. But on top of that high profile projects attract a bigger crowd, especially consisting of people who don’t use crowdfunding on a regular basis. They are not part of the classical pool. It’s those people who could outperform the negative effects of the pool drain with the positive effect of the Halo phenomenon. In some way high profile projects work as marketing and PR not only for the project itself but for crowdfunding and kickstarter in general because it gets a lot of media attention and public awareness for a certain time.

        Another effect you should keep in mind is the ratio of failure. Having high profile projects on kickstarter from experienced and proven developers likely increases the rate of success. And crowdfunding and kickstarter need success stories to maintain trust in the principle both in the eyes of the general public and in the eyes of the individual backers.

        Of course we don’t have solid numbers or statistics on all of these effects. These are only theories and we don’t know for sure how much influence they have and which one is likely bigger or smaller in a certain situation. ;)

    • Arne

      The only reason to use Kickstarter for crowd funding is it is the most popular platform. Is that enough? Let me think this through…

    • Arne

      So I think we got the answer tonight right? For those that weren’t there in Kortijk tonight, Swen explained the money gained from Kickstarter wasn’t the main reason why Larian did it (though it’s a nice sums, it is not really THAT big for a professional team of 30-40 people). Instead, the primary goal was to get noticed, mouth-to-mouth advertisement and just get as many warmed up for the release as possible. Later on they understood that there was also a second more important goal than the KS funds; that’s when everyone who backed the Kickstarter campaign gained early access. User input and such was one of the main factors that lead to DOS’s success. Many people on early access -> many more suggestions.

      So in conclusion, I’d guess you have little reason to host your own crowdfunding website if money is not the main issue. And yes, I do believe other people would benefit if someone who actually delivered on KS would return, so that once more a little from that fading faith is recovered. Funny actually, you should consider having KS to pay you to do another KS campaign, halo!

      Question answered. Topic closed.

  • otsego

    This may be long, and you may want to wait for a quiet Sunday afternoon (if you read it at all).

    Hey Swen,

    Kickstart a game that is NOT a Divinity game. I know that is Larian’s specialty and trademark, I know that’s the world you folks are comfortable creating within.

    But after all these years of playing Larian games, I want to see you guys go outside your comfort zone. I want to see what Larian can do beyond Divinity (YES that pun was intended). ;)

    For almost 20 years your studio has been focused mainly on Divinity games (and they’ve all been awesome by the way — I typically play Div:Div and Div 2 once a year), but now that crowdfunding is in place and you’ve been successful with it, this seems to perfect opportunity to try something completely new. YES use crowdfunding again (Kickstarter is the best for publicity, but I’d personally donate to your own fund so you can avoid the 10% fee), but DON’T do it for another Divinity game.

    Considering that must of us have put our money and faith into RPG funds that promise something new from the by-the-numbers trash that Bethesda and Bioware offer these days, I think with the success and faith you’ve gained with D:OS. you will do well with a campaign that offers something fresh.

    Don’t take this as a complaint that this fan has seen enough of Divinity; this franchise has been a staple for me for a decade and I yearn for more. But I also yearn for more Larian. I know your studio has it in you to stretch beyond your bounds. You are ARTISTS (yes, I mean that). Use your newfound funds and fanbase and publicity to try something new.

    As a side note — the next time you’re in Vancouver, I owe you a beer.

    P.S. DON’T cease to offer physical rewards! My reasons for this would span another long post, despite knowing how much you hate the process and cost of providing them ;)

    • Fox

      I’d also like to see what Larian could do with a new setting. What kind of setting would you like to see?

      I’d want something that could work with the DOS engine. Maybe a steam punk Victorian setting like Arcanum? With elves and orcs and magic… And trains and guns and zeppelins. That could be really cool and “technology” (like guns and bombs) would be an easy way to introduce a new dynamic alongside the staple magic and melee playstyles in DOS.

    • Katrien Cornelis

      I would love a sci-fi RPG made by larian.I mean the humour and questing and fighting of larian.. in a star trek setting. It would make my nerdy heart go *boom* (and my wallet)

  • Jim “Maestro” B

    Yes, I believe there’s a halo effect.
    As a personal anecdote, when I think of Kickstarter, I think of 4 games: WL2, PoE, Torment, and D:OS. Between those 4 games, I contributed more than any reasonably sane man should (certainly more than I’d ever admit to my wife!).
    And yet, even though that’s what KS means to me, when I look at my Kickstarter account, it says I’ve backed 17 games. I couldn’t even name half of them off the top of my head (although when I look through the list, I do get excited at what my future playlist will look like).
    I think it’s been over a year since any of those big 4 were on KS (wasn’t D:OS the last one?), and I haven’t contributed to any other KS projects since then. I definitely suffer from KS fatigue, and pretty much ignore any KS projects that are posted on rpgwatch now (note that this is partly fueled by the arrival of a newborn son who is now 1 year old…I don’t have time to play much anymore!).
    However, when a big player gets my attention for a major Kickstarter game that promises to keep alive my favorite types of games in (almost) AAA trappings, I have no doubt I will be back. One example is the company with some remnants of the old SSI company, the maker of the Gold Box games. If they did a Kickstarter (which they say they aren’t), I’m pretty sure my wallet would open so fast I’d get whiplash. And when I do dip my feet back into the KS pool, I have no doubt I’ll track the comments during the campaign, and that’s when I’ll come across random links to other projects. Will I back 17 more games? Nah, no way. But it seems likely I’d come across some projects that strike my fancy.
    Right now, KS isn’t even on my radar….

  • Fox

    One thing I forgot to add, that I must, since I know you’re reading these comments Seen: DOS has a huge problem that needs to be solved ASAP in a patch or expansion.

    I’m talking, of course, of the LIZARD PEOPLE! DOS is sorely lacking in Lizard NPCs, Lizard companions, and Lizard villages. Their absence, in fact, is by biggest/only disappointment with DOS.

  • Stanley Breskin

    I believe the reason Divinity Original Sin was successful as a kickstarter project was because what you showed as early game play footage was already very mature. There was a feeling early on, that you were going to deliver a product, rather than that you had an “aspiration to attempt to do a project”

    I think that your success and the success of pillars, wasteland 2, numenera had also contributed to a “me too” push by some developers who are badly miscalculating their ability to deliver a product on a right budget. $1m is not a lot. $5m is arguably not a lot for a modern game. I’m still flabbergasted that Divinity and Wasteland 2 are as awesome as they are on a sub 5m budget.

    Swen – go to Kickstarter, but when you already have a vertical slice in place, and ask for money for extra polish and features and to keep yourself self-published (also steam, but not greenlight. Early access when you are beta-ready is fine).

    Everything Larian did on kickstarter was perfect and early access to steam was also well timed. But I also get the sense that you had 6 months of crunchtime and that your team wouldn’t want to do that again if at all possible. Your crunch, judging by your updates, was all due to the additional goals etc that probably were under costed / under estimated in complexity, significantly during testing. And you guys have a mature engine and an awesome team.

    In conclusion – if you take the same approach as you did with DOS, but have fewer technically demanding and testing intensive goals that are not formally part of your initial vertical slice (npc schedules), and learn team-specific lessons, then you will have another successful Kickstarter.

  • Juergen

    Making use of this “halo effect” is actually pretty common even though it is not always called that way. In my field of expertise, real estate economy, retail shopping centers/mall are typically planned with this effect in mind in such a way that a tenant mix is created with different shop types in terms of their attraction potential. Usually several “magnets” (something like an apple store for instance) are located within the center in order to draw visitors and costumers into the center and in order to guide the visitor traffic through the center/mall. These stores generate business not only for themselves but also for other stores, often smaller one, less known and more specialized (like a comic book store, or a jewelry store). These smaller stores are the “suscipients” of generated traffic.
    With that being said it certainly seems plausible when the overall game investment has been declining in a comparison year of year when at the same time the bigger kickstarter campaigns by the “big players” for this kind of market are missing. I can only speak for myself and without the bigger kickstarters like Double Fine and Wasteland I might not have visited the site at all and not backed the 10 to 12 campaigns. I bet that something like Banner Saga – even though it turned out good in the end – wouldn’t have gathered that much support on their own than it did in the wake of the bigger campaigns.
    Returning to my initial analogy to the halo effect, it certainly remains to be seen whether Larian with a new kickstarter could already be strong enough on their own to create that kind of effect. Because if I look back at the campaign and remember how well it was done in comparison to other campaigns and how much to actually show off Larian did have compared to the vague promises and pure imagination of others the actual turnout in terms of money was rather weak. I certainly was scratching my head about all the time. Granted with the successful kickstarter, the highly praised and critically acclaimed game (deservedly so by the way) the good will by people could be a lot higher to pledge and the press could be way more forthcoming in reporting and generating buzz than it did on D:OS. But this might also heavily depend on the proposed game (its genre & setting) and the material used to present it. In closing I can easily say that I would back again if you were to make a new crowd funding attempt and I might even pledge higher than I did last time

  • warg

    Dos was the first project I supported (since I love DD) and quite a few after that. I think the main thing is if a smaller-bigger project is interesting enough to hop in or not. “Big bum” projects are good to keep the mass on Ks so that we always check back to see the newly started ones too. And sometimes it is good to have a break so that we have some time and money to check on smaller projects.
    Since the amount of games is enormously increased it the last years, my main problem is to decide which game to invest in, because after that I only have very limited time to play even one of them. I actually study game design, but it can be very hard to find a ballance which makes me to move forward by learning but avoid getting crazy of gaming withdrawal symptoms… :-P
    So in my opinion it is good to see great projects on ks, but too much simultaneously make it harder for smaller teams. But if we see the talent and honest work behind them, they always can reach their realistic goals. And not to speak of a smart marketing guy, if any available. ☺
    I already started saving money in case you decide to start another project. ☺

  • Logan Rogers-Follis

    I did back on KickStarter and I was so glad to see what you guys
    could do as you knew you had the “pre-sales.” I understand if you want
    to leave this up for others, but I feel that if you must pick between a
    single backer vs. crowdfounding to afford to build another D:OS quality
    game then PLEASE COME BACK TO KS! The quality you provided I felt was
    something we would never see if you had to “cave in” to what a corp
    back. I hate to see you guys work away for “nothing” until you sell your
    next game so if you need some money in the bank to pay the bills while
    building the next game please come back to KS and let us all help with
    that! I want you guys to be driven by the love for games like we are
    driven to support a studio that brings us these kind of great games!

  • Cirsphe

    As a backer, I would more upset if you resorted to the publisher route for any subsequent games. I think there are a lot of people that see kickstarter more as a self-publishing medium and the quality of the games that have been coming out have been amazing, Divinity included. I would rather see Larian studios create another kickstarter for your next game and let the people decide for themselves if you are double dipping or not with their contributions.

    • chickenhed

      Agreed. I too would be upset if they resorted to publishers after the wonderful game that is Original Sin. If their next game suffers at ALL because of publisher interference when they could have used crowd funding (and did what they wanted), THAT would be frustrating.

      • Fox

        I’ve seen some developers consistently say things to the effect of, “We’ve never had any trouble with publishers.” Like Obisidan (see Feargus Urquhart’s interview on MattChat). And then there are developers who consistently say things to the effect of, “We’ve always had trouble with publishers.”

        Guess which group Larian is is?

        …I dunno, Swen; maybe you just have bad luck?

        • Zeriel

          Note that the people saying “we’ve never had problems with publishers” are always the ones who are still reliant on publishers to keep them fed and pay the rent.

          • Fox

            I don’t know. I was thinking of Feargus Urquhart discussing KOTOR2 in particular, and I don’t think Obsidian has any need to tread carefully so far as LucasArts is concerned.

  • Lim Yeow Seng

    Steam Early Access is only for people who wishes to pay to play as Beta Testers. Not me. Also, I doubt a project without even a video of an alpha-footage could get you on that platform. Kickstarter, on the other hand, allows you to do that.

  • http://phhoogeveen.nl Peter Hoogeveen

    I’d like to join the COME BACK TO KS group on this one. I think it’s good. Not only because I love to be kept up to date about the game, but you also get a pretty rare chance to buy some more stuff with the game you wouldnt get the chance to otherwise. I don’t know if I would have bought this game if it was released on steam when it was finished. I miss high-profile KS game campaigns! I backed Carmageddon, Broken Sword – the Serpents Curse, Project Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2, Divinity Original Sin, Star Citizen, Stasis, Insomnia, Jenny LeClue and The Double Fine Adventure (now known as Broken Age) and was very happy to be able to help them out plus I got some nice swag along with it. There’s kind of a vacuum now I think, no new big things. I did think about backing Pathologic, but I’m already buying so many things :P

  • dgian

    As a D:OS backer I would definitely support Larian’s next game project, via KS or by any other means!
    I think D:OS is the most successful paradigm of crowd-funded game. And I’m not talking about economic success, which is mostly your concern, but success in terms of the quality of the delivered product.

    The way I see it is that there are two major categories of crowd-funded projects/games:
    - crowd-funding dependent: The project is tied to the crowd-funding campaign. If the campaign fails, the project fails.
    - crowd-funding independent: The game is released no matter whether the campaign is successful or not. The campaign just helps it become even better. D:OS belongs in this category, and I think this was one of the key factors for its ultimate success. I think you should go with the same philosophy if you’re planning on having a crowd-funding campaign for your next game.

    Regarding the drop in the kickstarter figures, I think it’s normal after the initial hype. Regular backers are becoming more skeptic about it and try to filter the projects that really interest them. They don’t go backing blindly “whatever is moving”. But I don’t think that the pool has reached its limits yet… not even close. I think that there are a lot more potential backers out there. Past successes, like D:OS, can surely play a role popularizing the crowd-funding model, but it might also lead to “monopolizing” it. It all comes down to a) how a project is presented, b) whether it belongs to the dependent or independent category, as this affects the risk, and c) whether the team behind the project is to be trusted. Larian has certainly gained this, almost blind, trust by a lot of people, but will an unknown start-up studio be trusted? In essence, the real question is whether popularizing crowd-funding, will ultimately lead to better quality games or not.

    As an aside, I am more in favour of standalone crowd-funding campaigns, the way Star Citizen did it. In conjunction with a popular centralized crowd-funding campaign, like KS, mostly for advertising purposes. I think it’s more flexible, lasts a longer and might facilitate in providing better feedback between backers-developers.

  • Exodus

    Swen, one part of this that worries me is that you’re thinking altruistically about Kickstarter. That’s a nice sentiment, but you should look after Larian first. If a Kickstarter makes business sense (including our enthusiasm and support) then do a Kickstarter. But if helping the ‘scene’ is a primary motive helping make the Kickstarter decision, don’t do it. You’re gambling your company for others’ benefit. Very noble, but foolish. Why not just give money and make appearances to support them instead?

  • Hiver

    Its like this:

    Your thinking that crowdfunding should not be abused by those who can finance their projects themselves, is correct. Of course.

    Im not really sure how important the “big fish expand the pond” for the little fish effect. It surely has an effect. its different seeing a web page where Obsidian, inXile and Larian are presenting projects then a web page without.

    BUT… there are other benefits to the whole kickstarter idea then just getting the funds.
    Obsidian is already aiming for another, InXile will probably do it too in the future. probably several others.

    So… there will be some big fish in the pond whatever you decide so that effect wont much diminish with or without you there. And its really not the most important thing to look for, even if it sounds like a issue that echoes over the media easily.

    Now… you guys have had the biggest success from all kickstarted projects and companies.
    At the moment, you, the Larian studios, are the best that came out of this whole crowdfunding change.
    This also means that you are, more or less, financially independent now.

    Which in your case, means that you dont really need the money. At least thats the general outlook right now.

    SO – you dont need, should not do a kickstarter to “get the money”. The next game will be financed by you guys anyway. Most of it, certainly. (surely there is a lot of stuff and ideas that can be relegated to crowdfunding… day-night cycles anyone? Or whatever else comes along)

    What you should do, IF you do it again, is do a similar campaign you did for OS. Instead of money, seek community interaction, let people be a part of the whole project and its conceptual stages.
    Thats what we really like.

    The feeling that we get that “we all did it together”. The feeling of “sticking it to the man” – and most of all the feeling that we get that we affected a product and made sure it will be created in a specific way.

    And you dont really need the kickstarter itself for that. Sure you can use it as an additional tool to reach a lot of people and get some good PR. But its not the only tool you have.
    Look at Star Citizen and other companies doing the kickstarter but also doing their own crowdfunding.
    - and there is early access too…

    Crowdfunding is actually a kind of philosophy, a new way of thinking and behaving, quite different then what we live through everyday in a society based on extreme capitalism and profit as most important goal and measure of anything.
    People took a risk with it – and it worked. it works.

    People like that and they dont want to see it go away. They want ti to continue.

    I guess it also comes down to how much interactivity with the “community” you guys really want. Global chat had to go away because of the influx of a lot of new players, your forums are a barely readable mess, steam forums cant be even looked at at all… etc.

    Want to have a bit more peace and quiet?

  • brandon2u

    first, very very impressed with the out pour of comments and suggestions.
    all very supportive … do love the Larian fans!

    Kickstarter is ‘limited’ in sense.
    * yes, people are more cautious after losing money on some investments or not getting what they paid for.
    * yes, there will be ‘lulls’ in good apples hanging on the tree (this is normal for game industry)
    * yes, economically, there will be fluctuation in crowd funding.

    still….

    * yes, you CAN go back to Kickstarter for help.

    Kickstarter campaigns are tough… you will work hard for the money ;)
    Larian has proven themselves reliable, thus minimal investment risk.

    IF you have a large project, specially on the scope of D:OS…
    there is almost no way to fund it without help.
    and, judging by the popularity of D:OS,
    getting help from kickstarter is a given (providing you keep goals realistic).

    i am HAPPY to support another Kickstarter…
    providing it is a game, an RPG, and of very large scope :)

  • chickenhed

    I have NO problem with Larian going back to Kickstarter and crowd funding in general. In fact I hope they DO go back to crowd funding. My reasoning is simple: It allows me to give money to companies I trust during development. Allowing them to develop the game with a stable budget BEFORE hand. That way my voice is heard (financially) while the game is in development instead of only when it is released.

    Some companies, like Larian, deserve the trust we have placed in them. Crowd funding allows them to have a “leg up” during their development and gives them the ability to be more creative while only answering to themselves and their backers. The benefit to this is that as long as they stay true to their pitch, their backers will be happy. We trust them to make the best decisions for their game. That is the way it should be.

  • Michael Matsuhara

    If you do pursue another KS, please don’t put too much on your plate. Keep your promises of your stretch goals and everything should be good :)

  • Nanoloque

    I think that crowdfunding should NEVER be a habit to raise money for projects. If you earn sufficient money to invest in your future projects, you HAVE TO fund them in a traditional way.

    Plus, I think there is a risk that your future games depend on your backers. It reminds me the Mass Effect 3 ending story. Make sure you make the games YOU want, not the ones the gamers, the fans, the publisher or anyone else want. Larian is an independant studio : let it be that way.

    Anyway, it is just my opinion and regardless of your decision to make another Kickstarter campaign or not, you have my support for your future games that I am waiting for.

    • AvtrSpirit

      I never considered the “extended ownership” model that you are talking about. Now that you have mentioned it, crowdfunding does not sound very appealing for a narrative driven game.

      But I do disagree that it should not become a habit. Why not? The backer is “pre-ordering” a game from a successful developer, and making his/her voice heard in the development process. I don’t see a downside.

      If anything, I’d be using Kickstarter more if it had lots of reputable, successful development teams on it, instead of mostly new teams.

  • Stabbey

    I don’t know whether or not it’ll be a good idea. Certainly, the pool for Kickstarter funding is shallower than it was a year ago, but Larian has proven it can deliver a good product through Kickstarter. Think about what Larian made through the D:OS Kickstarter, which was based on Divinity 2: DKS and previous works – the success of D:OS would likely lead to more publicity and success for another Larian campaign. Whether that would lead to greater success for Kickstarter as a whole, or just that specific project, I don’t know. I didn’t end up backing Shovel Knight in part because I spent some money on D:OS.

    However, as to the Halo effect, I think that it does work a bit. In one of the Larian updates this year, Larian mentioned another game in the update, which I backed, and through one of THEIR updates, I saw another game and backed that as well, and ended up backing two more after that which were probably also mentioned in updates from some of them.

    I do echo the comments below who want to see some of the additional content for D:OS like the extra Phantom Forest levels, and I especially want more of Kirill’s orchestral music, once he’s feeling up to it.

  • khaight

    The idea that the Kickstarter funding pool is limited assumes that potential backers view projects as fungible. Just because I might be willing to pledge a hundred bucks to back Larian’s next project doesn’t mean that I’d pledge that money to some other project if Larian wasn’t there. I might well spend it on something totally different.

    There’s also a weird kind of paternalism at play. Larian seems to be worried that I might want to back their project more strongly than some other project, so they want to deny me the chance. They want me to spend my money on my second choice, not my first. I’m an adult, guys. I can make my own decisions about where I want to put my money.

  • Robcat

    “The main reason that we’re not doing a new campaign is that we don’t want to be seen as abusing the system.”

    Well, would you be?

    If you don’t need ANY money from crowdfunding to fund your next game, I concur that it would be exploitative as you would be shifting the risk of investment from yourselves to backers unnecessarily (even if many would probably be happy to support you in this way). However, is this actually the case? Do you really have an excess of money now, and can add all the content and features you plan or might come to desire for your next project? Or would a Kickstarter campaign enable you to make a better game by increasing its scope and/or budget?

    If the latter, I don’t understand what’s causing your reluctance to use crowdfunding again, beyond worrying about ‘how it might look’, rather than how it actually is.

    To my mind, it seems perfectly reasonable to either: a) ask the public for some extra funding to enhance an existing prototype beyond what would otherwise be possible (like D:OS), or b) ask people if they would like to get on-board from the get-go by pitching a concept and explaining how their support would enable a better final product.

    In other words, supplementing your budget with crowdfunding is fine (desirable for everyone even), substituting your own money with crowdfunding is not (or at least it wouldn’t be ethical if you failed to disclaim that you were essentially asking people to take some of the risk of investment from you).

    If (all things considered) you do decide to use Kickstarter again, just be honest and communicate clearly (to backers and media) about why you are returning to crowdfunding and the difference it would make… let us decide if you and your next campaign is sincere and worth backing.

    ***

    FWIW – As a backer I have been much more active (browsing and backing) on Kickstarter when there have been big projects going on. I don’t think the pool is so much limited as it is simply another market, in which your presence is a positive overall influence.

  • Julius

    I join those with “It doesnt matter if company has already done good selling games” opinion. It is a great platform for preorders! And even adding your own stuff into a game. A blog explaning whats going on with the project (these are usual case with kickstarter games) is a great thing. So dont worry. Just make games and let us (gamers) be part of it.
    By the way when serious developers join crowdfunding, crowdfounding itself looks and IS more serious.

  • madgamer

    There is to much garbage campaigns in kick, so we need developers like larian to help showing that kickstarter its not all bad. Me and my brother will back your next game 100% sure ;)

  • Olivié

    Hi Swen and thank you for your honest and interesting blog : I think it’s perfectly fine and not selfish at all for Larian (or any successfull KickStarter dev) to go back to KickStarter with a new project, and this does NOT go in the way of other smaller devs/projects there. Why? Because you “generate money” by motivating people, you don’t “take money” from a finite/limited shared pool. The pool is extensible and proportional to people’s motivation :)

  • Deamento

    I’m not against the idea of a game developer like Larian crowdfunding another game. Seeing as you’ve already successfully kickstarted a game, I think that potential backers would give their money to you rather than another dev who has never successfully crowdfunded a game before

  • nobody72

    There are certain companies that seem to deliver decent value including cdprojek, almost human, and many more. There are other companies that love to nickle and dime and make life not so fun to consumers via overly harsh drm (ubi, ea (origin is ok but the bioware dlc are excessive), ~paradox (their games are a decent price and good value but their dlc are excessive), and many more.
    -
    I think what people are saying is you treat us well as a consumer AND provide a product we like and we are willing to support you so while if you were to launch another kickstart we would be willing to pay upfront in hope that a more enjoyable product is produced and we have a certain amount of faith that if it doesn’t turn out right you will make it right.
    -
    Also to a certain degree crowd funding is fun for the consumer; it makes them feel like they are taking part and have a say in the product (the only thing they have to remember is that it is a presale and not an investment).
    -
    With regards to kickstart well that is an oxymoron. On the one hand kickstart is meant to give a project a chance that otherwise would not be possible so in that sense one could argue that a company with funds to ‘do it on their own’ should not kickstart; but I think it is ok. I don’t know the general statistics but my contributing to another larian game would not prevent me from contributing to an unknown developer; then again i’ve significantly reduce my contribution to small developers because I’ve been unhappy with the win/loss rate.
    -
    I think in a case like Obsidian (project eternity) they would not have made the game without upfront founding so how can one argue that kickstart was bad for them. Same could be said for xile.
    -
    Anyways I can see your predicament but I hope you do another kickstart anyways. I also hope the game is better than D:OS (don’t take me wrong D:OS was fun to play but it has a lot of bugs of the sort that annoy me and I think the story needed more work). DKS has so far been my favorite of the series by a landslide (‘cept the dragon fighting at the very end which I did not like). Mind you DKS had engine issue and some bugs but the game seemed much more cohesive than D:OS – even if D:OS had ?better? ideas.

  • kekec

    I would be glad to pledge for your project again, cant wait to hear that Kirill song again – update we got an update ….. :D

  • Matthew Brown

    I see both sides of it but I tend to fall more on the “halo effect” side.

  • tubby_custard

    The way you did it with D:OS is the best way for an established studio to use crowdfunding in my opinion. Self fund the project until you have something pretty good, then crowdfund the polish pass + additional content.

    My biggest complaint about earlier Larian games is that they were a lot of fun and did a lot of very smart things that you don’t see in many RPGs, but they all seemed to have run out of time or money at some point. That extra year that you bought through Kickstarter really shows in Original Sin.

  • Sami Haila

    Short version: Yes to crowd funding

    Long version: I don’t know much about financing, marketing, game developing or the problems that they bring. I just think that Larian as it is, has achieved a level where you can actually make your own decisions about these things. From what I’ve read and heard of your troubles (mainly the end stages of publishing a game) I agree with the thought that you should indeed try another crowd funding, kickstarter or other such routes.
    My philosophy on the subject is that crowd funding isn’t really a limited pool, or rather it’s limited, but to the same extend as that of the corporate publishers, where they make the decision of what the players want vs. the players and developers making those decisions.
    I believe that even in crowd funding the same principal applies, where the one making the investment is considering if the project is worth investing in, but I believe that the decision is much more open to opinion since everyone is free to have one and there doesn’t have to be only one answer. That seems to be the natural selection philosophy of the gaming industry.
    The way I see it, Larian makes great games. Even your bad ones (if any) are good, or at least better than most altenatives. You guys never cease to amaze me with the things you come up and I believe most people see that. That’s exactly why I would say you should get crowd funding for future projects as well. I know I will back you, kickstarter or no.

  • Hiver

    Thinking about it a bit more… it seems to me that your way of doing crowdfunding, as it was done for OS is probably the best one. Asking for additional funds for specific things and seeking community feedback.
    While the most or practically all of the game is financed by yourselves.

    That shows to the interested public that its a serious deal (on top of actual games released so far), that you are willing to put your own money into that specific idea and so take the risk yourselves too, and generally creates the feeling of security and trust.

    Very valuable things.

    Not to be forgotten or underestimated is the fact that we can get really good prices through crowdfunding. Much cheaper then going through ordinary distribution after the game is released. Who gives how much money ultimately doesnt matter, thats a personal good will, the point is that early crowdfunding does provide reduced price too.

    And if you do setup your own crowdfunding setup, besides Kickstarter and others, all that money goes directly to you guys.

  • Freakydemon

    Crowdfunding should only be used when you need the extra capital. If you can make the game with your own investments or outside investment without going to the crowd, you should probably do it. Kickstarter is for projects that wouldn’t see the light of day without the crowd stepping in and gambling their money for the good outcome of the project. If for example Wasteland 2 & Torment make Fargo a good profit that he can now self-fund, he shouldn’t go back to Kickstarter. People will always fund the big name middle sized developers they know like Obsidian, InExile, Double Fine, etc. Doesn’t make em fund other projects from lesser known studios or even first timers. So if Larian can self-fund their games they shouldn’t feel obliged to make another crowdfunding project just because it might entice people to spend more money on other projects, it’s built on assumptions. The Kickstarter boom from 2012 will probably not be seen again until the big names of 2012 start releasing, if ever.

  • Joachim Pileborg

    As I see it, if you can use your profits from previous games to fund new games, then do it. But at the same time, wouldn’t be nice to be able to do something *extra*, like you did for D:OS? That *extra* stuff is something that Kickstarter and the supporters there are good at. For example, look at The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, the game was already financed in full, but they *still* went to Kickstarter to be able to make it an even better game.

    And if you’re worried about the smaller studios and projects, then just do shout-outs about them. The big projects can act as advertisement for the small even more “independentier” projects.

  • ungenannt

    Most of these analysts are narrow minded.
    Money is not an infinite commodity nor are the people who are willing to crowd fund. In order for the analysis to be accurate both those situations must occur. Simply put people are still waiting for projects they crowd funded to be completed. In other words until the projects which they already funded deliver, they are less likely to kickstart more.

    So do big name projects remove money from lesser products? Yes. But is it harmful to the ecosystem? No. If more projects deliver more people would be willing to put more money into kickstarter. In other words big projects which are successful increase success rate of funding for other kickstart projects. The biggest problem with kickstarter are the individuals who try to start projects but have no idea what they are doing. These are the most dangerous individuals to the kickstart environment, not you.

  • I suck with names

    Due to financial reasons I couldnt back DivOS (I did however buy the CE from your store). If you made another KS I would back it, and I think after DivOS, many others would back it too. It would probably have even more support than the original due to the success of the original. Also it’s another excuse to hear the update song.

  • Fimbul

    I guess Kickstarter has really changed. Uber Entertainment Inc returned to Kickstarter. the idea sounds relly cool, imo, but it’s not certain if they will make it. their goal is pretty high, compared with their first project, but backers are not jumping onboard as when they started Planetary Annihilation. Maybe because not all are fine with the final release of PA and don’t trust the promisses anymore. Looks like, mess it once with your backers and it will hard for you to succeed another time.

    Human Resources: http://kck.st/1vdtHve
    kicktraq HR: http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/659943965/human-resources-an-apocalyptic-rts-game/
    kicktraq PA: http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/659943965/planetary-annihilation-a-next-generation-rts/

  • Znilik

    If I see my behavior with Kickstarters it’s definitely true that big names get me pledge for smaller projects. I have a 100% satisfaction of KS I pledged and that’s been released. In fact only 2 from KS, 2 from Paypal pledge past KS, one from Early Access (only one EA bought yet this was a KS). I have 5 KS pledges waiting release (4 KS and 1 Paypal post KS) and one is already smelling very good and could be released relatively soon. But I’m lazy and almost all pledges was done during a bigger KS project. But also, I won’t pledge anymore for rather big pledges and I’ll probably won’t make any physical pledge anymore.

  • Grinsevent

    I’m quite “not at ease” with you returning to kickstarter … And have to explain a little bit : as you said, now, without publisher (or nice ones who would “just” do the marketing”), you have enough to create new games… And this creation would be successful in the same “pool” you came.

    Furthermore, you can still use Steam Alpha access (without a price higher than what you would have used, if it wouldn’t bother your backers, for exemple) for people wanting to help you find bugs and make the game better. As you said the “pool” is still limited (that’s true), and if only major names can fish in the pond, Kickstarter will become a new way for publisher to grab money (like some kickstarters with “SquareEnix” … Ok, it “may look like independant”, but it’s IN squarenix and they want to make it… but didn’t have the founds …

    But anyway, if you think you can keep up with your community, have a great project (which would blow up our mind too), need founds to make it better (you have founds, but the kickstarter would really help you), it would be a shame not to use your community (and I will be in again).

  • Jesus Alvarez

    I think its a great idea as long as you don’t based your budget solo around it ( Big Studios) . I think most people understand crow funding games aren’t 100% successful but if you do get one i think its really puts it in a positive light. It gives the chance to for indie dev heck even AAA devs to come up with game idea that aren’t normally the common model of a game but to try something new since if it fails the loss wont be so bad.

    It gives it chance for a new ideas but also a chance for fresh and indie DEV to make a game, I do crowd funding when i have some extra cash never really put more than $15 so that is my pov from someone who spends that much on crowd funding.

  • UberDan

    Update ! Update !! We want an update !!!

  • Bonafidelife

    Hey Swen, what’s up?

    1. Great article. Everybody has the right to change one’s mind and should do so from time to time!

    It can most certainly be a good thing for successful companies to return to Kickstarter/crowd funding. I think we are no where near the full potential for what CF can do. This is still the super-early days of CF.

    2. Sorry for this. Feel free to delete this post. This is totally unrelated to the (interesting) article. I am just frustrated about not being able to play Divinity OS, and not getting any feedback (at fb-page/larian forums/anywhere) about this.

    My problem? I cant remap the mouse buttons. I use the mouse with my left hand. I need to remap the keys.

    Approximately 10% of the world’s population is left handed. That’s a lot of gamers to shut out?

    Please get someone on this. It would be greatly appreciated!

    Have a great day!

    / Bonafidelife

  • Grinsevent

    I do have to add some stuff with my precedent post : Batlam, a great (or seemligly great) game got a great start by previous Pillars of Eternity backers with their shoutout … Aura effect is then undeniable…

  • Martin Ockovsky

    I meant to write the day you wrote it but … better late than never I guess…

    I think it’s very simple. You asked for money on kickstarter. Then we as a backers were waiting to see if you will deliver. You did, with flying colours. Divinity Original Sin has everything I could wish for, maybe except for an interesting story. I know a lot of people who bought the game because of my constant talking about it, and they all loved it.
    I know one or two people who didn’t like it because “it felt so immature and the graphics looked like a facebook game” but they pirated it, so who cares.

    I love your game, I really loved each and every one of the kickstarter updates. You are amazing guy, you showed us the human side of the game making process and I enjoyed it immensely.

    I also kickstartered Wasteland 2 and from the beginning I had a huge doubts because of the updates, it didn’t seem right. And now I can play it and I’m absolutely disappointed. I also kickstartered Torment, and I really liked the first short video, so I was thinking about raising my pledge. I thought about it for a long time and I decided not to do that, because I just don’t have any trust in inXile after the Wasteland 2 fiasco.

    On the other hand, I’m more than ready and happy and what not to pledge even more than I did before to your next kickstarter project. And I’m asking you to *please* do it. I want to be there for the whole process, I want to look at your kickstarter updates, I want to read them, I want to finally play the game I backed and know that I did the right thing.

    DOS isn’t perfect, but it’s the game with the best combat system in all RPGs I can think of. It looks beautiful, it’s original, it’s wonderful.

    So please do it, prepare next Kickstarter campaign and for the love of gods, please, employ me. Thank you.

    Have a nice day, good luck with your games, I love you.

  • Gnostic

    Yes please. I enjoy the interaction and updates of high quality project. Will back you with even more money.

    As for halo effect, sure it works, especially when you find some interesting project and present it to your fan base, when these project will have not such attention if you did not do so. Even your presence in the kickstarter is enough to create a ripple effect. Not only your fan base will look at other project, reviewer and blogs will feature news of kickstarter hence bringing even more attention to kickstarter.

    Even Kickstarter itself state that there is an increase in overall funding when there is big projects
    https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/blockbuster-effects

    Kickstarter funds are limited? Yes, limited in the sense that people will not simply back anything anymore. People mature and wise up. If that project is not good enough it will not get funded, below average project will fail. The pool is drying up for them. For really good project they will get funded. In fact, the highest funded project is funded this year
    https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/most-funded

    So much for the woes of this year kickstarter funds is in the decline, It is just no more easy money anymore and people who pass the risk entirely to the backers without investing in the project for a prototype / alpha do less well than people who do the opposite.

  • Kaspar Raave

    You have really good points about crowd funding, Sven, and I admire and respect you for that. Nice to hear that you care, your kindness echoes also in your games (D:OS), which is very rare these days.
    I am one of those who is making his first steps becoming an independent game developer and hopefully if success leads me far enough I can use crowd funding to fulfill my dreams.

    I will certainly support you if you consider to return to crowd funding.

    I really can’t wait for another episode of Larian RPG.

    All the best and good luck!

  • AvtrSpirit

    Now that Larian has a successful product on their hands, I’d say crowdfunding is even more powerful than before. Now, the success of any project started will depend on the (perceived) quality of the product and not by people wondering whether or not Larian is company keeps true to their word.

    We will be judging the product, not the team. We already have faith in the team.

  • Slimebeast

    No. Please don’t do Kickstarter again. Larian is too big for that now.

  • Meh

    I won’t be supporting the second release. I don’t like the path their taking it, I’m not interested in characters deeply woven into story arcs. This isn’t Dragon Age, some of us don’t want origin stories. What makes Divinity Original Sin awesome is the open world adventure and shit loads of humor. Origins adds a layer that makes a pc feel like a third person object. Yes your in control of the characters actions, yes you are in control of choices you make but you are not in control of yourself in terms of direction.