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[Column] General: The Crowd Funded MMO

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,044MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

Crowd funding game development has become quite common with the rise of KickStarter and other revenue generating sites. In her latest column, Genese Davis takes a look at some of the most successful crowd-funded MMOs. Read on before stopping in to leave your comments.

When publishers turn down game proposals like Wasteland 2, developers can use tools like Kickstarter to bring awareness and check the pulse of the gamer. In a sense, the public becomes a voice to the developer by showing their support and jumpstarting game production despite publisher rejections. Players’ willingness to put their money on the line gives these “underdog” projects a chance at life.

Read more of Genese Davis's The Crowd Funded MMO.




  • troublmakertroublmaker St. George''s, NFPosts: 337Member
    I'm a tad bit suspicious of any "MMO" that requires under $1,000,000 in funding to make...
  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    I would be interested in seeing the list of successful crowd funded games. I was just thinking the other day, are there any successful and proven crowd funded games? With so much money being thrown around confidently, it has sparked my curiosity. The list of mmo's here looks promising and depending on how bad they mess up the payment model, it looks like we are headed for some fun times. CU UC and Shroud especially have my attention, CU considering the buzz, and Shroud just came off as a mysterious world I could see myself getting lost in.
  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    I'm a backer for PFO and am really thrilled with the way Goblinworks has interacted with the game community. Getting to have direct conversations with the Developers on thier forums while the game is being developed is pretty unique in terms of my MMO experience and incredibly refreshing. I haven't contributed any art assets or anything like that. On the other hand, I know for a fact that some of the conversations I have had on the forums have influenced the design aspects of the game.

    What the Developers get is the benefit of alot of different brains, many of whom are very experienced in gaming are passionate about the project to provide suggests, bounce ideas off of and provide constructive criticism about proposed mechanisms. As a customer, you obviously get the sense that you are far more then just some faceless hamster to milk for cash. You are truely listened to. The Developers become real people to you, not just nameless entities operating in secret. That's HUGE.

    It's important to note that being listened to and solicited for opinion, feedback and interest is NOT the same as being put in the drivers seat. The Developers still have a clear vision of the product they want to produce and they stiock to it, as they should. That's really important. It's not so much as them letting the backers design the getting the benefit of an MMO "think-tank" to help provide ideas/creativity and constructive criticism. I think that can be particularly helpfull for small development teams as having alot of people from the outside look at a design idea can help expose an aspect or potential unintended consequence of a design that the Development team might not have considered themselves.

    It's been a great experience overall. The only real problem is simply the length of time it takes to see some tangible progress with the project. For example, I haven't visited the PFO forums for a number of months now due to burnout and the realization that it will be a very long time before we see any of the ideas discussed in action at all. But I certainly don't regret my backing.





  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member
    Originally posted by troublmaker
    I'm a tad bit suspicious of any "MMO" that requires under $1,000,000 in funding to make...

    As far as I understand, they don't generaly use the funding to make the entire game. It's to demonstrate audience interest in the game to potential investors who then provide the bulk of the funding. It's one thing for people to blab theoreticaly about how there might be an audience for a's another to demonstrate it by showing that thousands of people were so interested that they opened thier wallets and contributed thier hard earned cash that totals in the the hundreds of thousands to help get the game made. Nothing speaks louder to an investor then potential customers willing to talk with thier wallets before a product is even built.

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,219Member Uncommon

    It's very good overall imo. Caveat that by saying there may be one or two that crash & burn.

    Smaller games with more diversity between them and better dev-player interaction compared to corporate-consumer interaction where profits come first. You'll still get the behemoth mmorpgs that rule the roost, but the spaces in between can easily find space for these niche or mmorpgs And graphics race is a big marketing con some of these mmorpgs look almost fugly and still be fun.

  • aslan132aslan132 Tampa, FLPosts: 469Member Uncommon

    I think its still too early to decide whether this is successful or not. Most of those games listed dont even have playable aphas/betas, and some (like CU) arent even more than just an "idea" yet. Im all for showing support to developers and helping to create a better product, but I wont give money to someone before they have a product. Im not an investor, im an interested player. 


    Theres a very real possibility that some of those games will never be made or published, and anyone who put money into them will not see that money again. These developers have no legal responsibility to return that money, only to make a serious attempt at creating their product. I can understand throwing in 20-100 bucks to create "the game of your dream", but I personally know people who have put thousands into one of the games listed, and that game currently, as far as the world is concerned, doesnt even exist yet. 


    I think when we finally start seeing these games launch, we can decide if it was worth it to the players, but until then, its just a better scam than Pay to Win for developers. 

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,219Member Uncommon

    Genese: You may want to update PFO info (that is the tech demo for outside investors which was successful in that aim, the crowdunding for the actual game = Link

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko JohannesburgPosts: 6,185Member Epic

    I believe it's a great way to get niche-focused games made, because it's a solid way to demonstrate interest in your particular vision for a specific audience.


    What has not been demonstrated yet is how well these "backer numbers" translate into paying game players. Does the support of 10K Kickstarter backers translate into 100K players ? Or do 5K of those original backers turn into your worst enemies when you can't deliver exactly what they dreamed you could ?


    And why is Chris Roberts' Star Citizen not mentioned at all ? They just broke the $24M crowdfunding milestone yesterday... image


  • syriinxsyriinx New York, NYPosts: 1,383Member Uncommon

    "Many enthusiasts back crowd funding projects because there is a promise that gamer and developer can work together to create amazing adventures"


    The simple fact is that this is 100% independent of crowd funding or not.  This is misguided idealism.  Once they have your money, its theirs.  They only owe you what they promised, usually the game and some perks once its released.  they can release whatever game they want to.

    And then there is EQNext, which is not crowd funded.  And the developers are communicating with the player base and working with them.  WoW is very active with their players as well, providing more communication than I have ever seen.   It might be a dog and pony show, but the same can be said whenever developers get feedback from funders as well.

    And the bottom line is, developers should be making the game they want to play.  thats the best way to ensure passion about your product.

  • Ice-QueenIce-Queen USA, GAPosts: 2,451Member Uncommon

    I don't usually give for Kickstarter projects unless I know the people behind it have proven success before with a true Mmorpg, and I really like it to be a subscription based Mmorpg as well.

    A bonus for me is to have a huge focus on crafting and have a seemless world without instancing or phasing, with open world pvp and open world housing(as in Ultima Online/Asheron's Call, etc).

    Which is why I have only given money for Shrouds of the Avatar and Camelot Unchained Kickstarters.


    What happens when you log off your characters????.....
    Dark Age of Camelot

  • NomadMorlockNomadMorlock N/A, VAPosts: 798Member Uncommon
    I'm really surprised by the glaring omission.  Star Citizen should absolutely have been included.  Had the community not responded how they obviously have (almost $25 million in funding), then it could very well have been viewed as an underdog looking for a chance.
  • LoboMauLoboMau Marinha GrandePosts: 396Member Uncommon
    So 25 million is not enough for the OP?  This games that are in this column are little dwarfes compared to the amount of money that Star Citizen has...I dont know it was on purpose or simply incompetence. Very weird.
  • pgdeanerpgdeaner Colorado Springs, COPosts: 10Member Uncommon

    Here is a good article that touches on some of the successes/issues with kickstarter.

    As far as MMOs are concerned, you can't ignore Star Citizen.  They have raised 23 million and the money is still rolling in.

  • TiamatRoarTiamatRoar Potomac, MDPosts: 1,207Member Uncommon
    Too many chefs spoil the soup, sometimes.  It'll be interesting to see just how many, if any, crowd-funded MMORPGs end up being successful and NOT a huge disappointment to all involved.
  • StormNetStormNet Kensington, CTPosts: 30Member Uncommon
    How could you not add the highest grossing kickstarter campagn anywhere...Star Citizen. Which is also why Shroud of the Avatar made it as well with a push from the king Chris Roberts to help his buddy Lord English out.
  • benseinebenseine HaarlemPosts: 243Member Uncommon
    I've backed $175 on Star Citizen so far and will pledge a similar ammount to Gloria Victis when they start their crowdfunding once their full alpha version is done. So the games I backed haven't been released yet and time will tell if it was worth my money.

    But what I do know for a fact is that every mmorpg I played in the last few years where nothing but dissapointment and have cost me more annually that pledging 175 for ever for SC (buying game plus 15 euro x 11months). So even if these games are half the dissapointment the other crap mmorpgs of the last few years have been, I would still make a 175 gamble a couple of more times before I start having doubts about the crowfunding hype we are in now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,171Member Uncommon

    City of Titans is another one to add to the list, btw.


    Overall, I'd say the level of communication between devs and players is pretty extraordinary in a crowd-funded project. Frequent updates, lots of Q&A dialogue, and ideas bouncing around makes for an attractive, high energy situation.


    I've noticed though that without strong leadership and clear organization, things stated in the fundraiser can become 180 degrees out from where they started due to an active vocal minority on the forums. This is about the point where the money you gave to support Project XYZ looks like a goner and you feel like you got scammed.


    Caveat emptor is the catchphrase of the times.

  • LorskaLorska Portland, ORPosts: 74Member Uncommon
    I wish there was mention of Trials of Ascension in this article, an MMO currently on Kickstarter going for $750,000.  Started yesterday. 
  • ApraxisApraxis RegensburgPosts: 1,508Member Uncommon

    Just for info:

    The real Pathfinder Kickstarter was with a $1.000.000 goal, and is already successfully raised.

    The kickstarter about the amount of $50.000 was just for a prototyp. It is somewhat misleading in the column.

  • SamhaelSamhael Huntsville, ALPosts: 869Member Uncommon

    City of Titans exceeded their goals pretty quickly and still has 10 days to go.


    Of course, the original goal for their funding was to get the software tools to do the job. They're all volunteers.

  • Riptide69Riptide69 Preston, MDPosts: 45Member

    I respect the author's opinion, but I was surprised to not see Star Citizen listed.  Maybe it isn't considered an MMO in the traditional sense of the word.  But I would be curious what the author thinks of its progress.


  • DenambrenDenambren Montreal, QCPosts: 339Member Uncommon

    And yeah, where's the Star Citizen.

  • superconductingsuperconducting Rochester, NYPosts: 861Member Uncommon
    No Star Citizen in the list? Interesting

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 14,247Member Rare
    Originally posted by MumboJumbo
    It's very good overall imo. Caveat that by saying there may be one or two that crash & burn.

    History says you're being overly optimistic and extremely generous with that statement. :) 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • pgdeanerpgdeaner Colorado Springs, COPosts: 10Member Uncommon

    One of the reasons I really like the idea of crowd funded games in general is that I think most game publishers are like the big media outlets.  They follow each other like retarded pack animals.  If one company has a huge success with a particular genre of game the others follow hoping to emulate.  It reminds me of the plethora of police dramas on television.

    There seems to be little interest in making niche games that might only appeal to a percentage of the gaming community.  How many times has someone published a "WoW Killer" only to be disappointed when the entire blizzard gaming population doesn't jump ship to their game.  What people forget is that these games grew organically in a time when the competition for players was not as fierce as it is today.  In my opinion there will never be another WoW.  There are too many choices out there that appeal to different tastes.

    Crowd funded games allow people to vote in advance with their willingness to invest in things they are interested in.  Yes it's a risk but as commented above, I have lost count of how many $50.00 games I have bought where I subscribed for several months only to have the game turn out to be a complete disappointment.

    The music industry and the television industry are evolving.  New distribution channels and development channels for these types of media are a reality that the embedded industry giants are having to contend with.

    The gaming industry needs to evolve as well.  I think the fact that crowd funding is functioning at all should be a wake up call to the gaming publishers that we as a consumer group are tired of paying top dollar for the opportunity to be beta testers in what they label a "released" game.

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