Fans of Silent Hill, Horror, and Generally Good Things have been lamenting the cancellation of Silent Hills, an ill-fated project from the dream team of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, with art design from horror manga maestro Junji Ito and Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. The loss of what finally seemed like a worthy instalment of Silent Hill after the series’ recent history of stumbling in the dark was quite a pain.
British developer Lilith Ltd saw an opportunity to fill the newly-prized niche in the market, and started up a Kickstarter campaign for Allison Road, a horror game in the same vein as Silent Hills’ Playable Teaser. Having checked out the Kickstarter campaign, I must say that what they had so far seemed like a good aesthetic and thematic foundation to build a worthy successor to the PT crown. A couple of days ago, Lilith Ltd took their Allison Road Kickstarter campaign down, because they were approached by Team17 and had gained themselves a publisher.
I don’t think I could be happier with the way this has turned out, especially in the light of practices like Keiji Inafune’s Red Ash Kickstarter haemorrhaging backer money when the developer revealed that they already had a publisher lines up for the game, while the developers’ current project Mighty No. 9 hasn’t even been released yet.
That Lilith Ltd removed their Kickstarter campaign shows a respect for their consumers and a real sense of integrity and responsibility. They could have easily delayed the announcement of Team17’s involvement until after the Kickstarter campaign had finished and pocketed the backer money.
The backing of an experienced publisher also puts the game’s development in a much more stable environment. While I absolutely love the idea of developers making games that fans want that perhaps a publisher wouldn’t greenlight, the lack of oversight can be an issue. On crowd-funded campaigns that exceed their goals, feature creep can be a real issue that gets out of hand. Just look at Double Fine’s Broken Age, a game that needed extra funding halfway through development to get it finished despite the game’s initial campaign far exceeding its target. Double Fine were able to build a game with far more scope than they initially thought, underestimated the costs of their additions, and ran out of money. I love those guys, and their more recent game Massive Chalice seems to have benefitted from their experience crowdfunding games, but you can see how those inexperienced with crowdfunding can stumble.
I love the idea of projects being made to suit an appropriate budget since the AAA industry seems to be stuck in a rut of overspending on games and overestimating sales, which leads to ridiculous examples like Square Enix calling 2013’s Tomb Raider a “failure” despite having sold 6 million units at that point. I understand that publishers need their big guns to make megabucks to fund other, more risky projects, but it’s still a ridiculous position to be in. I think that one of the great things about Kickstarter is that the game can be developed to suit the acquired budget, so long as the developers know how to tailor their project to the budget.
However, if a developer can gain a publisher for a project that people really want, then good for them. And the fact that they respect their customers enough to immediately take the game’s crowd funding project down only gives me more faith in the developers.
Image credits: polygon.com, forbes.com, segmentnext.com