Why $1.5 million seems like a lot to ask for a video game

Skullgirls developer Lab Zero is currently raising funds (opens in new tab) for its next project, an action-RPG called Indivisible. Currently sitting at just over 25 percent of its $1.5 million goal, the Indiegogo campaign isn’t exactly floundering, but it’s not taking off either. But hold on. Did you just have a negative gut reaction to that goal? Skullgirls project lead Mike Zaimont thinks Kickstarter campaigns that omit their partnerships with publishers are to blame.

“I’m kind of annoyed that so many crowdfunding drives at this point have had like 90 percent of their funding from investors already and have just used it as an interest gauge, because that basically killed our ability to say ‘we don’t have a publisher and this is not an interest gauge,'” Zaimont said during a stream with YouTuber JBgolden.

Bloodstained, for example, had a Kickstarter goal of $500,000 – but producer Koji Igarashi admitted that wasn’t nearly the amount needed to actually make the game. The crowdfunding campaign only accounted for roughly 10 percent of the game’s budget, and was aimed more at gauging interest (opens in new tab) from potential customers. Similarly, Sony admitted to partially funding Shenmue 3 (opens in new tab), using the game’s Kickstarter campaign to see if fans would put their money where their mouths were.

The bottom line is that video games cost more than you might think to make, and Zaimont argues publisher-backed crowdfunding campaigns hurt campaigns like Indivisible’s. Lab Zero publicly acknowledges a partnership with 505 Games, which will provide an additional $2 million if Indivisible meets its goal. In contrast, Bloodstained and Shenmue 3 had already secured partial financing by the time their campaigns began.

“We are trying to do this as honestly and normally as we possibly can,” Zaimont said on the stream. “And we are meeting exactly the same resistance as if we hadn’t tried to do that, which is really frustrating.”

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