Traditionally video game studios have had to rely on publishers to fund their projects, which gave the publishers a tremendous amount of influence over what types of games could be made and to some extent the content in the game itself. With the success of Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter campaign last week many in the industry have begun to wonder if publishers have lost some of their power now that independent studios like Double Fine have found potential ways to self-fund their projects.
HookshotInc talked to the Tim Schafer over the weekend about the campaign, which is now closing in on the $2 million mark, and what it means for the future role of video game publishers. Schafer responded that his goal with using Kickstarter was not to “vilify” video game publishers, but was instead to give fans who wanted a new adventure game a “shot at putting their money where their mouth is.”
“Well, I’m not trying to vilify them. Publishers do their business in a way that works for them. They’re risking millions of dollars so they’ve got to mitigate that risk – and sometimes that means removing risky ideas from games. The thing is, Double Fine is all about coming up with new, unproven and really creative ideas. It’s a constant battle for us to get those ideas to go through the system, that long spanking machine of people who have to sign off on you. They’re not evil, they’re just trying to protect themselves.”
Time will tell if Double Fine’s Kickstarter campaign has a lasting impact on the industry in terms of how independent developers fund their new projects, but it seems clear that at least some small amount of power has shifted from publishers to developers. That in and of itself could result in some interesting changes within the video game industry over the next few years.