Why The Internet Gave This Man $1 Million. In A Single Day.

Why The Internet Gave This Man $1 Million. In A Single Day.

In case you’ve missed it, a video game idea on Kickstarter has helped smash the site’s records by raising over one million dollars in a single day.

That. Is. Bananas. And it raises the question: why? Why were so many people so willing to invest money in an idea that the video game industry itself seems completely uninterested in?

Simple. Because the video game industry wasn’t giving these people what they want.

Major video game publishers want to sell you the blockbuster. The explosive, million-dollar experience. The Call of Duty, the Grand Theft Auto, the kind of game that’s pretty to look at but also stripped bare enough that it can be understood and enjoyed (or at least bought) by the masses.

This might sell a truckload of games, but it also alienates another kind of customer. The kind who grew up on a more humble, thoughtful experience. Or who likes to take their time with a game. Or who enjoys a bit of solitude, away from screaming teenagers.

When a publisher looks at a Call of Duty game selling millions of copies, there’e something they’re not seeing. They’re not seeing a tally of the people who aren’t buying their games. They’re not listening to the desires of those who want to play substantial video games (sorry Facebook and iPhone!), but don’t want the popcorn and explosions treatment.

This isn’t to say all publishers are making stupid, loud games. Paradox, for example, make a healthy living catering to the needs of people who like wars that are fought with numbers. But smaller publishers often have to compromise on things like polish, and scale. Telltale might make adventure games, sure, but if you find someone who thinks they’re either as smart or funny as Lucasarts’ old games, tell them they’re crazy.

The outpouring of enthusiasm and, more importantly, money Double Fine’s project received yesterday shows that there are plenty of gamers whose tastes are being ignored. And all it took was someone to listen, and provide the right avenue for them to really show their support, to make something special happen.

Sure, I agree with Jason in that this won’t change the business. It’s one game, backed by a celebrity in the genre who may be the most likeable person in video games. Not many other combinations will get the attention or the money this project has, especially since it’s soaked up all the novelty of being the first millionaire Kickstarter video game.

But there’s still a chance here for other genres and developers to take advantage of the hole Schafer’s team have pried in the video game industry’s business model. How many other dead or dormant genres are there enough fans out there willing to pay to see resurrected not by a struggling indie but by a legend in the field, with the money and experience to make something really great? Space sims. Turn-based strategy games. Flight sims. Text adventures. The list goes on.

And even if there aren’t, well, at the very least you’d hope everyone from Activision to Electronic Arts to Ubisoft and, yes, even THQ is taking a very good, long look at this, and taking notes. There are video games we want to play that you’re not giving us. And if you won’t give them to us, we’ll just pay people directly to make them for us.


  • That was a nice article to read over a late lunch (though it was last nights Pad Thai, so was very much worth waiting for)!

    “There are video games we want to play that you’re not giving us. And if you won’t give them to us, we’ll just pay people directly to make them for us”

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • this is rather sad and lame, they ask for money to create a game and they get 1million dollars in day, if a cancer research institution came out and said we need more money to continue research and improve treatment options / refine drugs they wouldnt get 1 million in a day, rather sickening to think about actually

    • It’s not that bad. Daffodil Day raises millions each year, and people aren’t really paying for the game to be paid, they’re simply placing pre-orders on a game that isn’t out yet. You donate $15 and you own the game, it’s just fans buying in advance.

    • I wonder how much money Apple makes every iPhone launch.

      Sickening? You’re saying that we should all donate our spare change to cancer research and absolutely nothing else?

        • Good cause, most certainly. But we have other things we spend money on.

          Hell, why aren’t Activision taking that billion dollar profit and supporting children in Africa? We give what we can, not all that we have. People are just more inclined to give to people knowing they’ll likely get something out of it, in this case, a Psychonauts sequel.

      • Douche argument mate, who is to say that the people buying this game don’t also donate to charity. It’s like saying what about food? Don’t these people eat? They could spend this money on feeding their families?

        Cancer foundations aren’t struggling for funds because random people aren’t donating they are struggling because governments don’t get voted in over their ability to cure cancer. Pharmaceutical companies make more money from pathetic cosmetics than researching cures for actual diseases. Look at the amount of public funding that gets spent on feathering profits for the few and then you can see where the big dollars are at. US President candidates should donate their coffers to real issues rather than self propmotion.

        So yeah back up, get off that soap box and do some real thinking.

    • That’s because in the scheme of things Cancer Money can be a complete waste.

      Since what you are actually funding is R&D. 10 years of R&D has improved things yes but a cure it has not provided.

      The reason he got a million dollars in a day is because people expect that at the end of this he will give them a working product.

      If cancer said right we need a million dollars in a day and cancer will be cured in 12 months then they would get a shit tin of money to.

      At the moment your money goes to one of a number of different research lab’s. And if in fact it’s a pharmaceutical company that finds a cure or the like it will mean even less. Because while Charity Funded R&D would be likely to sell the cure at cost. A Pharmaceutical company won’t be(mainly because they have to pay off their own R&D)

    • lol, cancer is the most overfunded disease we have, there are so many charities devoted to cancer research and donating to cancer research is probably about the worst donation you can make these days.

      Most cancer charities are run like corporations and just make the people running them a whole bunch of money.

      Donating to those cancer charities that are about giving children better care is one thing, donating to most cancer research charities is probably the same as going and giving a bunch of money to the richest guy you know.

      If you wanna give money to charities fighting disease, maybe look at how you can support someone researching ways to fight super bacteria, as they are under funded instead of hugely over funded like cancer research.

  • What’s this? A Plunkett article with only one image, no links to an identical article or unfunny references? I don’t believe it.

  • I love point and click adventure games (also love text adventures too). As the article says – people aren’t making what I wanna play (despite some admirable efforts by Telltale).

    Take my money Mr S and make me what I want to play!

  • He’s right in the fact that I purely donated because it’s Schafer…I probably wouldn’t do it for any other developer (off the top of my head) – Maybe the bioshock kids. And the connection is because they make great single player games.

    • I do not believe it is taxed. Kickstarter will take a commission, but it wouldn’t be huge. Pozible (the Australian crowd-funding service) only takes a tiny percentage so I image Kickstarter would be similar.

      • Kickstarter is 5% and I think you have to use the Amazon version of paypal, which takes another 2%.

        My largest concern is the fact that Kickstarter don’t do anything apart from administer the initial funding transaction. If there’s no follow through, eg no game is made or you dont get your rewards, the onus is on the backer to follow that up and pursue legal action.

      • Hi Tracey, According to a podcast that was funded using kickstarter(the comedy Button) the US government dose tax the money coming from kickstarter.

        but I’m sure Double Fine has some good accountants that would be able to find a way to lessen the tax paid against the money raised.

  • I don’t think any other designer in the industry could’ve pulled this off.
    Now that he’s opened the door I can imagine other niche markets trying similar things.
    A few small individuals will probably try this and fail, a few more will screw over their backers, but I could certainly see established studios using this to try for original IPs or beloved sequels.

    If nothing else this should show the publishers there’s a lot of niche markets out there not being fulfilled.

  • It’d be nice if a fraction of that sum could find its way into a release for a Brutal Legend patch. I’m still yet to play it for this reason.

  • That was a good, thoughtful article about video games. This is Kotaku, right? I was looking for tabloid stories cut and paste with a vague connection to a video game. From a year ago.

  • Who could say no to that face? He looks like a French bulldog. I bet he could have made a million dollars in donations just by posting a photo staring plaintively in to the camera with his head titled to one side.

  • Soo.. How much more do they need to buy back the rights to the Monkey Island series??

    Monkey Island 3 would be the most awesome game ever if made by Schafer and Gilbert..

  • I wish someone would develop a new battlefield type game that focuses more on bf’s roots rather than its dumbed down modern day offering

  • “When a publisher looks at a Call of Duty game selling millions of copies, there’e something they’re not seeing. They’re not seeing a tally of the people who aren’t buying their games.”

    When they do notice them… they figure they must be pirates, because how could you be a gamer and not want to play thier 100 million dollar remake of a three year old first person shooter???

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