Kickstarter is no stranger to failed projects, such as the Yogscast game which was abruptly cancelled due to mismanagement and inexperience of the developers, or Clang, an ambitious motion-controlled sword fighting simulation by Neal Stephenson which simply ran out of funds. Yet, among all the unfulfilled promises and disappointments, every once in a while a shiny gem emerges with complete fanfare. Wasteland 2 is such a project, proving a great example of a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The game, developed by inXile Entertainment, is a sequel to an old 1988 open-world title. Like its precursor, Wasteland 2 is set in a post-apocalyptic alternate history where the world has been destroyed by a nuclear holocaust. The societies and economies all over the world have collapsed, many people turned back to tribal savagery, and futuristic robots and mutated animals roam the desolate plains. The game is an isometric, party-based, role playing title, mixing a good amount of story and combat, throwing in a huge focus on survival in the new harsh world.
The game began its Kickstarter campaign back in March 2012 and quickly managed to raise almost $3 million thanks to over 61,000 backers, despite its more modest $900,000 goal. The confidence was inspired by the project leader Brian Fargo, who founded Interplay Productions and worked on such classics as Fallout, Bard’s Tale and the original Wasteland. With a good portfolio of artwork and early prototype, a strong creative vision for the development and a good team put together, the project began on a high note that continued throughout its development. As promised, the backers were given early-access to the beta version as one of the perks. The game only suffered a short delay, from August to September, but if the current reviews are any indication, the extra time was well worth the additional brief wait. The exemplary success of Wasteland 2’s Kickstarter is only further punctuated by its recent release.
The game has finally reached the gold version and released just a few days ago. In the four days it has been out, it already managed to bring in $1.5 million in revenue, about half of all of its Kickstarter fund. The reception has been very warm as well from both the newcomers and old school fans of the post-apocalyptic setting who have grown up with the similar Fallout franchise.
Of course, Wasteland 2 is not the only title that has leveraged the power of crowdsourcing. Other notable games include Divinity Original Sin, also an open-world role-playing title inspired by the older days of classic PC RPGs and a prequel to the Divine Divinity series. Another good example is Legend of Grimrock, a party-based, first-person dungeon crawler similar to old Dungeon Master. Lastly, Xenonauts is a modern throwback to the X-Com series where the player controls an international organization tasked with intercepting and defeating alien invaders.
Just as the other successful examples show, Wasteland 2 proves the true value of Kickstarter. Crowdsourcing seems like a great way to re-spark the old classics of the gaming days. Without relying on big triple-A publishers for funding, those smaller and independent, yet not inexperienced teams can bring gamers more niche, “hardcore” or rare titles that might otherwise be deemed too risky to invest in the modern day of fast-paced Call of Duties or endless yearly sequels such as Assassin’s Creed. Nonetheless, Kickstarter should always be considered more of a hopeful donation than a sure investment. Even those campaigns that check off all the green lights, such as Double Fine’s Broken Age, can fail to deliver for a myriad of reasons. Game development is a complicated business, after all.
By Jakub Kasztalski