Square Enix, international conglomerate behind everything from Final Fantasy to Tomb Raider would like to help your best game ideas get some crowd-funding. Oh, and they might let your game star some of their characters. Whoa. Slow down there. Eidos characters. You ain't going to be remaking Final Fantasy VII.
Consider this today's least and most surprising news.
Least surprising because crowd-funding has been one of the hottest things in gaming since Tim Schafer's DoubleFine studio made millions on Kickstarter two Februarys ago from people (read: not game publishers) who were willing to pay to fund the creation of a new old-school adventure game. Of course Square Enix, the company that tries everything from selling the first eight Dragon Quests on iPhones to making console and PC games playable on the Chrome browser would try this, too.
Most surprising because no other big game publisher has tried anything quite like this.
Square is going to walk people through the details of their new program at the GDC Next event in November, but a new website sketches out the trail today.
The program is called Collective. It'll be open to people who want to pitch their game ideas. Got an idea for a game? Pitch it.
As stated on the Collective site, "each project pitch submitted goes through an evaluation phase to ensure ideas sit within the submission parameters, and if the community backs your ideas we'll work with you on a due diligence process to give the community reassurance that you have the expertise and tools you need to create the game you're planning to -- plus we'll use our experience of bringing games to market to help you work out how much you'll need to raise to make it a reality."
It seems that regular gamers will have a chance to weigh in on the pitches too. Again, according to the site: "When a pitch goes live, you'll have 28 days to decide if you think it'll make a good game, and get involved in the feedback process. Then, if that idea receives enough support, we'll check it out -- and if the team is good to go, we'll open it up for crowdfunding via our partnership with Indiegogo -- which is your chance to get in early and help to get the game you want to play into development."
After pitches are approved, the game's crowdfunding can begin. This means that, compared to traditional gaming Kickstarters and Indigogos, people who are interested in funding can assume that there's been some vetting of the project in advance -- presumably by both Square Enix people and gamers.
If the game makes its Indiegogo crowd-funding goal, it'll move ahead. Square Enix will distribute the funded games, digital-only. And it'll ensure that the majority of revenue goes to the developers, though an exact split hasn't been specified.
The twist is that the games can use some of Square Enix's older intellectual property from its Eidos brand, though a rep for the project declined to share details on which Eidos properties those would be. (The games don't have to be based on Eidos stuff; they can be original.) The rep also declined to mention which platforms would be a part of this -- if this was just a PC or mobile thing or a console thing or what. Details on all of that will be forthcoming at GDC Next.
For now, ponder three thoughts.
1) If crowdfunding was an end-run around publishers for some frustrated indies, what does looping in a publisher like Square Enix do for this process? Help?
2) Imagine if Capcom did this kind of thing for Mega Man.
3) Which Eidos franchises could come back through this? Here's a list of Eidos games past and present pulled from Wikipedia. Remember, Collective involves "older" Eidos games, so Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief and a bunch of others are out:
- 25 To Life (2006)
- Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (2008)
- Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home (2003)
- Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighbourhood (2004)
- Battlestations: Midway (2007)
- Battlestations: Pacific (2009)
- Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
- Beach Life (2002)
- Bionicle Heroes (2006)
- Championship Manager 5 (2005)
- Chilli Con Carnage (2007)
- Chuck Rock (1991)
- Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines (1998) and its sequels
- Conflict: Denied Ops (2008)
- Crash 'N' Burn (2004)
- Cutthroats: Terror on the High Seas (1999)
- Daikatana (2000)
- Deathtrap Dungeon (1998)
- Deus Ex (2000)
- Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003)
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)
- Deus Ex: The Fall (2013)
- Doctor Who: Top Trumps (2008)
- Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 (1998)
- Eve of Extinction (2002)
- F1 World Grand Prix (1999)
- F1 World Grand Prix 2000 (2001)
- Fear Effect (2000)
- Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix (2001)
- Fighting Force (1997)
- Fighting Force 2 (1999)
- Final Fantasy VII (PC version) (1997)
- Gangsters: Organised Crime (1998)
- Gangsters 2 (2001)
- Geon: Emotions (2007)
- Highlander: The Game (Canceled)
- Hitman: Codename 47 and its sequels
- Imperial Glory (2005)
- Infernal (2007)
- Joint Strike Fighter (1997)
- Just Cause (2006)
- Just Cause 2 (2010)
- Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (2007)
- Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (2010)
- Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)
- Legacy of Kain series
- Legaia 2: Duel Saga (2001)
- Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005)
- Mad Dash Racing (2001)
- Mad Maestro (2001)
- Mini Ninjas Official Site (2009)
- Mister Mosquito (2001)
- Monster Lab (2008)
- Nervous Brickdown (2007)
- Ninja: Shadow of Darkness (1998)
- Official Formula One Racing (1999)
- Omikron: The Nomad Soul (1999)
- Orion Burger (1996)
- Pocket Pool (2007)
- Power F1 (1997)
- Praetorians (2003)
- Project Eden (2001)
- Project IGI: I'm Going In (2000)
- Project Snowblind (2005)
- Revenant (1999)
- Reservoir Dogs (2006)
- Rogue Trooper (2006)
- Shellshock: Nam '67 (2004)
- Shellshock 2: Blood Trails (2009)
- Soul Bubbles (2008)
- Spider: The Video Game (1996)
- Startopia (2001)
- Swagman (1997)
- Terracide (1997)
- Thief series
- Timesplitters (2000)
- Timesplitters 2 (2002)
- Tomb Raider series (Since 1996)
- Total Overdose (2005)
- Top Trumps Adventures (2007)
- Top Trumps Adventures: Dogs and Dinosaurs (2007)
- Top Trumps Adventures: Horror and Predators (2007)
- Touch the Dead (2007)
- Trade Empires (2001)
- The Unholy War (1998)
- Urban Chaos (1999)
- Urban Chaos: Riot Response (2006)
- Virtual Resort: Spring Break (2002)
- Warzone 2100 (1999)
- Way of the Samurai (2002)
- Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Junior Edition (2001)
Find out more at the official Collective site.