Kickstarter UK: The first wave

Kickstarter UK: The first wave
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 6th 2012 at 11:30AM

Develop investigates a new era of games financing

Kickstarter, the most popular vehicle for crowdfunding games development projects, went live in UK the last week.

Whereas previously UK residents could only pledge, but not create projects, now they can seek funding on the platform. Develop spoke to some of the platform's earliest UK participants and industry figures to gauge what lies in store for the crowdfunding site.

The move has be widely welcomed by UK developers of every size, who have until now had to sit and watch as their US counterparts secure funding from the platform, or navigate complicated loopholes in an attempt to position their projects as US creations.

“Kickstarter coming to the UK presents a great opportunity for developers to generate funds and produce games that are better and more expansive than originally intended,” said Richard Wilson, CEO of trade body TIGA.

“Many of our members talk about the problems of getting bank finance, and Kickstarter presents a great alternative which involves video games players too. We have seen some amazing projects already with Kickstarter, and it is now the UK developers’ turn to realise its benefits.”

A number of UK studios and individuals have already prepared projects for Kickstarter, and at the time of writing, numerous others are considering the crowdfunding vehicle for their games.

“Publisher finance and other sources of development funds are becoming scarce,” stated Simon Prytherch, CEO of Chromativity, which is considering submitting projects to Kickstarter now that it welcomes UK studios.

“We still have to finance game development in order to bring quality experiences to the consumer. I think virtually every studio has either a great title in their back catalog, or one or more of their team were the driving force behind a classic game. I think if you have these elements and you have the right dev team then it is a great start for a Kickstarter project.”

Meanwhile, longstanding UK developer Rebellion is now  ‘strongly considering’ using the platform, studio CEO and co-founder Jason Kingsley told Develop.

“Up to now if you wanted to put a project onto Kickstarter there were some legal hoops to jump through, re having a US entity involved. Now Kickstarter has arranged things so it can be done by a UK-owned entity in a straightforward way,” he said, before explaining his previous concerns.

“We were also a bit worried about making ‘taxable supplies’ in the US and therefore falling into the US tax system, at least in a technical sense.”

Kickstarter is, of course, not the only crowdfunding platform, and options already available to UK studios include the popular Indiegogo offering and the game-specific Gambitous alternative. However, Kickstarter’s status with both industry and consumers means it is proving very attractive to UK games makers.

“The main difference to me seems to be in terms of visibility,” said Steve Ince, freelance games writer and designer, on the contrast between Kickstarter and its rivals.

“Kickstarter is clearly much more high profile even though, as I understand it, Indiegogo has been around for longer. Indiegogo offers more options on the money raising side but people may have to be cautious about what they go for. Kickstarter is much cleaner and simpler with lots of people already buying into its philosophy.”

Ince added he is looking to now use Kickstarter to fund his in-development adventure game project Caroline’s Secret.

Meanwhile, it is hoped by some that the the debut of Kickstarter in the UK can serve to counter growing concerns that the platform has lost some of its appeal after high profile fully pledged failures such as Haunts: The Manse Macabre have potentially shaken consumer faith in the model, despite continued support from backers for the troubled project.

“There was the ‘Kickstarter fatigue’ phenomenon a lot of people have been talking and writing about,” stated Kostas Zarifis, game director at Guildford studio Kinaesthetic Games, which is now using Kickstarter to fund its beat ‘em-up Kung Fu Superstar.

“We’re hoping the UK launch will alleviate some of that and reignite some of the Kickstarter excitement from the Double Fine time.”

Visit the official website for more information and to register your project www.kickstarter.com.

For more tips on Kickstarter, see Develop's FAQ.