Video Games Get A Whole New (Crowdfunding) Platform (Kinda)

on Tuesday, Aug. 18th

Kickstarter has a new competitor today, at least when it comes to video games.

Fig—led by Justin Bailey the former Chief Operating Officer for Double Fine, the game studio that kicked off the game crowdfunding crazy—has made a somewhat splashy debut in the gaming corner of the Internet today.

There are two big differences between Fig and ye olde Kickstarter: for, uh, starters Fig is part of the wave of post-JOBS Act crowdfunding sites that offer up equity in the finished product.

Now not everyone can participate in the profit side of things, as Andy Chalk outlines in this rather excellent piece at PC Gamer (that you should go read right now, it’s okay, I’ll be here, back, okay). Instead Fig is offering up a hybrid approach: equity for those who are permitted, perks for those who shouldn’t be gambling. Instead of losing a shirt, you get one, dig?

That’s differentiator one. Here’s Chalk with the other piece:

Another significant difference is that Fig will be tightly curated, with just one campaign running at a time. The plan is to alternate between “iii games” from studios like [sic] Osbidian, inXile, and Double Fine—”iii is a new term and is the indie equivalent of AAA games from a big publisher,” Fig said in its announcement, which is something I’m sure we’ll talk about later—and projects being created by new, “up-and-coming” developers.

Love that “iii” moniker.

All this reminds me of something friend of the blog Emily Best (Seed & Spark) said years ago when I asked her what we should be expecting as the next evolution of crowdfunding.

“Verticals,” said Best.

You might get cynical and say that of course Emily Best is going to say that. She runs a vertically focused crowdfunding platform. I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum: I’ve been wondering what’s taken so long for a games-focused platform to emerge. (Star Citizen doesn’t count.)

Fig’s whole style is a breath of fresh air in what has become a rather murky environment in gaming. The mess that was the Red Ash campaign, the hubbub over Sony’s investment in Shenmue 3, and even the griping over Oculus’ sale to Facebook show how volatile the new funding model can be from a public relations standpoint. Putting investor and patron money in the same pool—and counting it towards the ultimate total—is a big step towards the kind of transparency that is crowdfunding at its best.

Even better: by being so focused theres room for more Fig-like platforms in the market.

I’ve long been skeptical of equity crowdfunding—and remain so for the film market, as you are partially begging for tears there—but this hybrid model definitely shows promise. Even if the rules on accredited investors still mean that there’s a class system that separates those who profit from those who patronize.


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