What an interesting time to be working in and around the internet! Mass protest showed MPAA and Congress that ill-formed, top-down actions like SOPA and PIPA are unacceptable solutions to the challenges facing the entertainment industry. In the wake of such a clash, fertile ground is overturned for innovation in the creative process. Case in point: Double Fine Adventure.
First, a little background; Double Fine is a game development studio based in San Francisco known for beautiful, brilliant games that rarely live up to publisher’s hopes in terms of sales. 2 Player Productions, documentary film makers who thrive in the world of video games, approached Tim Schaefer, Double Fine’s Founder, about developing a film about the production of a game. Rather than deal with the legal hassle of getting permission from a publisher to make the film about a game they funded, Schaefer suggested using Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com) to fund a game/documentary project.
The project was posted shortly after working hours on Tuesday, February 9th with the ambitious goal of raising $400,000 over a 34 day run. Then the astonishing happened; the project reached the $400,000 goal in under 8 hours and ended its first day past the $1.2 million mark. Remember, this is for a project with no content description beyond “A classic point and click adventure.”
There are at least two lessons that apply directly from this example for those of us that work on the web. Crowdsourcing is a compelling new model in the realm of project funding. The results of this project are a clear outlier, but many other ventures, from movies to iPod docks, have built financial foundations through services similar to Kickstarter. If you have project that’s big on ideas but short on capital, then they’re definitely worth a look!
The second thing to take away is a bit more subtle. We all need to be aware of our potential audience and it’s starting to become clear that engaging the audience earlier in the process can be invaluable. This point is clearly applicable to all of us; for example it explains a key difference between the development process we employ at Freelock and other development studios. Our clients are our audience and we want you involved throughout the process, giving us feedback on features as they’re being developed, testing parts of the site even before they’re polished, and truly acting as a partner in the creation of your project. We’ve found that an open, interactive development process may take a little more time, but it results in a far more successful experience for everyone involved and a better site as an end result!