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Why I personally think the commercial success of BA is not paramount (even though I do hope for it)

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The way I see it, since crowd-funding (via Kickstarter or otherwise) has become a viable way to get a budget for developing video games, Double Fine doesn't need to achieve sustainability from sale revenue alone.

I personally have no problem with Double Fine making more Kickstarter campaigns in the future and at least I know I would most certainly back every single one of them.(*) For me personally, this is an even better business model, with actually much less risk involved, both for Double Fine and the players/backers. It is obviously much less risky for a backer to invest 20-50 (or more) €/$ in a project and (I would say almost certainly) get a video game for it, than it is for Double Fine to invest a couple million €/$ in a project to then not have the sale revenue cover the amount of money invested in the video game. And, as we have undoubtedly seen from the documentary episodes, at least in Double Fine's case, when they're developing a video game which has been funded by its future players themselves, future players have a much more direct and personal interaction with the development of the game.

I do understand why it would be better, in a PR sort of sense, to not have to rely on crowd-funding to secure a budget for your next video game, but at the same time, for an indie development company, what is the difference, really? The only difference is whether they receive the money from the players before or after the game has been developed. The way I personally see it, that is really not such a dramatically significant difference, especially for a company like Double Fine and a guy like Tim Schafer whom I know will make a video game which I will enjoy and not regret spending money for it.

I will point out, though, that for this to work it is necessary to be able to make much better predictions about how big a game a certain budget can sustain. %-P

(*) -- I did also back Massive Chalice, but since I was a slacker-backer for Broken Age and my Kickstarter and PayPal accounts don't share the same e-mail address, that is not linked to my current forum account (I should probably look into getting that resolved somehow, tbh).

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You think crowd-funding their games is a negative, from a PR perspective? How so?

I have absolutely no problem if DoubleFine KickStarts every single game they make for the rest of their lives, *especially* if it comes packaged with the kind of behind-the-scenes "the backers are part of the project" content that Broken Age and Massive Chalice are providing.

The value for money, for me, on both those projects, has been overwhelming. I backed Broken Age only at the minimum level required to get the documentary, because that's what I was most interested in and I had no idea how to gauge what I was getting for my pledge. Now, coming to the end of the process, if I could travel back in time two years I would quite happily pledge at the $100 or even $250 level because I've got that much value out of the project.

Going into future Double Fine crowd-funded games, I now have that history as a guide. In terms of pure VFM, Double Fine have a lot of good will to trade on, with me at least.

What I predict is that they'll run several of the Massive Chalice/Spacebase-type small-team projects while simultaneously going all-in on a larger, higher-budget, Tim Shafer-designed headline game using KickStarter as a basis and with 2PP providing the docs. The formula worked brilliantly this time around, why not make it a business plan going forward?

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It seems to me, from watching the documentaries, that the commercial success of Broken Age is very important to Double Fine.

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You think crowd-funding their games is a negative, from a PR perspective? How so?

I may have worded that poorly and you may have misunderstood what I was trying to say.

I personally don't agree with this, but in the ideology of traditional business (what I referred to as "from a PR perspective" because most people do still think solely in terms of the traditional business ideology), Double Fine should achieve self-sustainability through sale revenue of their video games alone. That is partly what they themselves are talking about in the latest documentary episode -- "if the game sells *this much* we'll be able to go fully independent" -- that "independent" is basically the self-sustainability through sale revenue in the traditional business sense that I'm talking about, and the self-sustainability through crowd-funding instead is such a non-traditional idea that it even sounds like an oxymoron -- "how can it be self-sustainability when they're not providing their budget themselves but getting it from other people?" -- which is ridiculous because it is as much "self-" as the sales revenues sustainability is, because if people stop buying your games your "self"-sustainability goes down the drain as much as it does if people stop backing your projects.

The formula worked brilliantly this time around, why not make it a business plan going forward?

Exactly my point! Except, as I said, better planning of how exactly the budget is going to be spent.

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It seems to me, from watching the documentaries, that the commercial success of Broken Age is very important to Double Fine.

Yes, and I'm of the opinion that that is solely because they think they shouldn't rely on crowd-funding for business. My point is that I don't see why that would have to be so.

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If you're unsure about the aiming for commercial success angle, i suggest playing the game.

I could imagine that crowd funding turns a little bit annoying when people also expect the product you once were suggesting. You're more free to do whatever you want if you can fund something on your own or working together with partners you can get along with. On the other side you might lack some feedback, QA and promotion which you otherwise get for free.

Hmm, checked the Steam description out for the first time and ... i like how the game is described in there.

Key Features:

. Pointing

. Clicking

. Original soundtrack, composed by Peter McConnell, recorded by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

. All-star voice cast, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, Wil Wheaton, and Pendleton Ward

. Dialog Trees!

. Some jokes. Unless you don't think they're funny, in which case we totally weren't trying to be funny.

. A whole bunch of awesome PUZZLES

. This one really hard puzzle that you won't get but you'll look it up online and not tell anybody

. All your hopes and dreams

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Hmm, checked the Steam description out for the first time and ... i like how the game is described in there.

Key Features:

. Pointing

. Clicking

. Original soundtrack, composed by Peter McConnell, recorded by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

. All-star voice cast, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, Wil Wheaton, and Pendleton Ward

. Dialog Trees!

. Some jokes. Unless you don't think they're funny, in which case we totally weren't trying to be funny.

. A whole bunch of awesome PUZZLES

. This one really hard puzzle that you won't get but you'll look it up online and not tell anybody

. All your hopes and dreams

Oh ho ho you sassy.

But you seem to have forgotten that this is only the first part of the game and it's been established, multiple times, that the second part will definitely be more difficult and challenging.

Either way, I'm not sure what this has to do with the topic.

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And then there's this problem with kickstarted videogames in general: http://evilasahobby.com/2014/01/18/kickstander-only-around-a-third-of-kickstarted-video-game-projects-fully-deliver-to-their-backers/

Obviously Doublefine carries less risk than dude in college, but if we are honest, even this successful kickstarter wasn't perfectly smooth, they lose money to fulfilling rewards that could have gone to the game (as opposed to self funding), and honestly, I think the best creative projects aren't usually the ones we ask for: they are almost always the ones we didn't even know we wanted--think of all the complaints about sequels. (Yes, I'm sure you can think up examples to counter this statement, it's an opinion grounded more in truthiness than fact, *gosh darn it autocorrect, webster says truthiness a word, why don't you* but I'm curious if anyone has a similar sediment)

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Obviously Doublefine carries less risk than dude in college, but if we are honest, even this successful kickstarter wasn't perfectly smooth, they lose money to fulfilling rewards that could have gone to the game (as opposed to self funding),

I did point out that much better budget planning is required in order to efficiently take advantage of the crowd-funding business model. By that I also include taking into account that things like rewards and such do not end up causing problems for the game development.

and honestly, I think the best creative projects aren't usually the ones we ask for: they are almost always the ones we didn't even know we wanted--think of all the complaints about sequels.

And I don't see why that is a problem. I do not just back Kickstarter projects which I asked for. In fact, nearly all the Kickstarter projects I've backed so far were things that have never even occurred to me before I saw the Kickstarter campaigns for them, so almost all of them fall into the "ones I didn't even know I wanted" category.

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and honestly, I think the best creative projects aren't usually the ones we ask for: they are almost always the ones we didn't even know we wanted--think of all the complaints about sequels.

And I don't see why that is a problem. I do not just back Kickstarter projects which I asked for. In fact, nearly all the Kickstarter projects I've backed so far were things that have never even occurred to me before I saw the Kickstarter campaigns for them, so almost all of them fall into the "ones I didn't even know I wanted" category.

yes, same with me! buut okay, i want to know if someone allready made a nice game allready.

and the point "with the one puzzles you will secretly look up up in the Internet" - well, its that thing, that you got some people, that expect exactly what you have promised in the kickstarter campain. its very nice of you wanting to back any project DF will come up with.

but there are some that ain't that pleased with Brocken age. so the more often there gonne be a kickstarter, the more often they are gonne judge a Studio by their last kickstaeter they did. shure, many people love Brocken age. okey, it ain't that few people that didn't like the difficulty of the puzzles, even AS many people here behave AS if it wasn't kind oft a bunch of people complaining about it.

well, i was one oft the complainers. i mean i should defenetly wait for part 2 before i judge broken age anyway. and i do yet very much like it.

but the point is, before this kickstarter there was no such kickstarter. double fine didn't have done a kickstarter before. the trust in Tim was simply huge!

the amount oft money they got was because a huge trust and also for this whole "lets safe the adventure game genre" thing.

now that they did the kickstarter, things are more back to reallity.

still i feel like broken age is a success. people are very aware oft it because of the kickstarter, there are a lot oft fans and people that playing it. maybe some new backers will apear just at the next kickstarter, who simply played Brocken age later.

so i don't know. maybe for those who even wanted their money back, there gonme be new backers, backers that are more like different kind of games.

Tim allready pleased a big fan base from the current backers anyway. so we really just gonne know how good kickstarter will work on a long time basis after the second and the third kickstarter. i guess they should try and find out!

(edit-wise: i never again gonne write here with a tablet ^^)

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We're not privy to the sales details but a lot of speculation occurred in the thread Successful or no?

The general consensus seems to be a definite maybe. Was in the top seller charts or a while and even after having been dropped from Steam's featured games it's still at number 29 at time of writing. Course the fact the game isn't completed yet confuses the matter, could be a score of people out there not willing to purchase half of a product on the promise that it'll get finished later.

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With the highest amount of simultaneous players on day on being at just under 3000 and it dropping out of the top 100 list within a day or two i somewhat have the fear that 90000 backers, slacker backers and people who bought the game via the Humble Bundle a while ago there might not be that much left on an initial normal preorder/standard day one steam publishing of the game. It´s like everyone interested via this viral online thing might already be in the boat except the few that waited/might still be waiting for the official/full release.

Even with a short play time it seems like an awkward low number for a „day one OMG it just unlocked“ rush to the new game, dossent it?

I fear that it´s only 10000-20000… even if i can only base that on the amount of players that played the game on release day. But it´s extremely hard to guess numbers since steam has a wild non disclosure contract with the companies they sell games for. As far as i know there are no real numbers on how much a game sold on steam out there. Not on any game. Them telling you Spacebase made 400.000k in 2.. or was it 4?... weeks might be the closest you get at "real" steam numbers.

If you look at it now… sitting right above skyrim for 30€ without any discounts… how many people a day do you believe buy skyrim for 30€ many years after it´s release? How many people a day do you believe buy Planetary Annihilations early accesses per day for the hefty price of 46€? I dont think there are many hundreds of games sold per day right now. I might be wrong but it just feels like that.

I think there are a ton of people you still could get the game to, not just by iOS/Android but also by the obvious Steam sale that will come (lots of people that were not among the first 100.000 but are interested will wait for that price drop i figure) or some more direct marketing in the „EFIGS“ markets besides the US and UK were, if i remember correctly, the majority of the backers came from. - Maybe there will be something like a press tour and a publisher of „small“ boxed copys once the game finished to marked it more direct to people that are not as deep in the english digital games marked, news, pay pal and credit cards.

I hope i am wrong and the game already sold another 100.000 copys tough. But i fear we would have heard about that just like we did when the kickstarter hit and everyone went crazy.

I think in that regards MC might be the real money maker for the Studio in the end since they seem to be restricted to their budget a lot more AND have way less backers = more potential buyers.

I wonder how many financial troubles there might be at DF right now. I love the fact that something like AF might pay for itself thanks to the Humble Promotion, but if you consider that the DFA Adventure Bundle was created because they needed more monny for DFA i kinda fear that the Spacebase Bundle also might mean that the funds on that game ran dry by now... i think for the 400.000US$ from the Indy fund that game only needed to sell 20.000 copys or something.

I hope there arrent any trubbles, but i kinda fear that a lot here might be blowing up in their faces right now. I hope we get some sort of clarification before the long wait for episode 15 or even 16.

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@ MichealM : Well, there is a lot of pessimism in your text.

Well, double fine is still workung on Massive Challice. It got Space base out. It is doing Amnesia Fortnight 2014.

There is one point you kinda miss. There are lots of people that would never buy anything on steam. Especially such a game like Broken Age.

I would never buy anything on steam, cause, if i paid money for something, and i liked that game very much, i am that kind of person, who would organise himself an old OS and would play that game 10 years, or maybe even 15 years later, if i am in the mood. I am doing so with grim fandango at the moment and win 98.

I am not that kind of person who pay money a second time for something that he allready bought, like, because as if i would buy anything on steam, or, just because it just doesn't run on my current OS.

Yha well, the pro, agains-Steam discussion has no need here. But there are lots of people out there that won't buy on steam in any way.

Especially broken age is such a game, if you play games more often than just once, where there are real reasons to wanne keep it and not wanting to buy it on steam.

So now they are just looking for extra money for part II. Yes they need to get it together but i am feeling, well, they are gonne do fine!

Especially! Part II doesn't need as much money as they needed so far for part I. Because with part one they started by zero. Now they got the whole game enginge and even all the release expirience from part one.

So they could pretty well calculate for part II.

I do beliefe they gonne find all the money for part II, i am not only hoping so, i do really simply beliefe they will. (okay, i think: the more money, the better part II, so i still do hoping for lots of money ^^)

And after part II, even as they keep telling us part II gonne be harder, and they gonne have a complete game in their hands, that is in a good length, and as part one allready was awesome, i do beliefe broken age will pay off for df very well! Especially as than there gonne be all the OS - releases. Especially as they gonne have Android, and IOS and Linux, Mac, Pc, so now they have to get part II paid. That is all they need to do now.

I don't think it's a bad sign if broken age isn't a chart-killer on steam. Cause i don't feel it would make too much sence for broken age being that.

Cause, if i wasn't a slacker backer, i would defenetly wait till i could buy broken age steam free! For shure!

So i didn't back massive challice, cause i first wanne to know, how it gonne be in the end, as it isn't a too typical game for me to play. I am quite exited about massive challice still and there is a big chance i will buy it. And if they would release it first on steam, i would also wait until it is complete and steam free and buy it just than.

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[so Many Words! I hate to admit that this thread hit "TL;DR" early and often... and now I'm going to make it worse]

Our “backing dollars” paid salaries which kept the place open and good staff from leaving. If they simply broke even that would have been a success… but they didn’t even break even… they spent their own money on this game even though they had sold all the copies they were “guaranteed” to ever sell.

The promise was “An adventure game from Tim Schafer, Double Fine, and YOU!” but the question after they had all that money was “If we make a Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Game we can find out if there is a market for Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Games” which is why I think, in part, they gambled instead of cheaping out and delivering the bare minimum.

For “commercial success” it’s not enough to sell enough copies to non-backers to earn enough money to turn a profit. To really call it a “commercial success” they need to sell a “Big Budget” number of copies at a “Big Budget” price.

I know this thread isn’t about “pricing” but it factors in.

This game and the backer experience (access to the documentary, backers’ forums, insider development notes, early concept art, beta period, etc.) cost $15 on Kickstarter.

The cost of the game on Steam right now is $25 and being a slacker backer cost $30 so either we all got a great deal or the game is wildly over-priced.

How much additional value there is in the rest of the game will tell us… I might pay $15 for 8 hours of Broken Age and I might pay $15 for the backer experience but I don’t think I would pay $25 for 8 hours of Broken Age alone.

The degree of success of this project does many things for DoubleFine… if the sell enough to turn a profit they win as a company and have money to make more games… if they sell enough to prove there is a market for Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Games they are uniquely positioned... having a proven track record. engine, tools/pipeline, and experienced team to make more of them in a lot less time than anyone late to the bandwagon.

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[so Many Words! I hate to admit that this thread hit "TL;DR" early and often... and now I'm going to make it worse]

Our “backing dollars” paid salaries which kept the place open and good staff from leaving. If they simply broke even that would have been a success… but they didn’t even break even… they spent their own money on this game even though they had sold all the copies they were “guaranteed” to ever sell.

The promise was “An adventure game from Tim Schafer, Double Fine, and YOU!” but the question after they had all that money was “If we make a Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Game we can find out if there is a market for Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Games” which is why I think, in part, they gambled instead of cheaping out and delivering the bare minimum.

For “commercial success” it’s not enough to sell enough copies to non-backers to earn enough money to turn a profit. To really call it a “commercial success” they need to sell a “Big Budget” number of copies at a “Big Budget” price.

I know this thread isn’t about “pricing” but it factors in.

This game and the backer experience (access to the documentary, backers’ forums, insider development notes, early concept art, beta period, etc.) cost $15 on Kickstarter.

The cost of the game on Steam right now is $25 and being a slacker backer cost $30 so either we all got a great deal or the game is wildly over-priced.

How much additional value there is in the rest of the game will tell us… I might pay $15 for 8 hours of Broken Age and I might pay $15 for the backer experience but I don’t think I would pay $25 for 8 hours of Broken Age alone.

The degree of success of this project does many things for DoubleFine… if the sell enough to turn a profit they win as a company and have money to make more games… if they sell enough to prove there is a market for Big-Budget Point&Click; Adventure Games they are uniquely positioned... having a proven track record. engine, tools/pipeline, and experienced team to make more of them in a lot less time than anyone late to the bandwagon.

Well, in the documentary they allready considered reduced prices. So as for an example on the humble bundle store there is so much reducement, i often wait until i like the price of a game there. I am just shure this game is gonne sell very well on all the smart device OS's also. Even for some time!

People gonne see this on ipad and gonne say: hey, that looks beautiful! And than there is the voice of Jack Black and Elija Wood.

I simply can not imagine that this game is not gonne pay of. If it gonne be a giant success, well, i don't know. But they also allready said they dosn't need it also.

But how successful this game is gonne be, in my view, will very much depend on part II.

Cause Part I is for many people - just as an adventure game - not satisfying because, in the end, all those hints.

I do not know, how they wanne have a huge commercial success with an old and beloved Genre, while leaving the old loyal fanbase kinda a little behind.

So, if it gonne end up not as a huge giant mega-success, however, i bet it will pay off very well for double fine. If it gonne be a normal good success, they just kept their studio running and fresh and have some really sweet new stuff on their menu.

Well, in my opionion, if they do so, they will have a capacity doing a next adventure game - and why not even with the very much same game enginge, they allready builded for broken age? ! ?

So that time, they can concentrate on the gameplay more than they did now! They could use all their expirience they made with broken age, and simply make a new game. maybe without a bagle filter thing, cause this is quite time intense. But maybe even with a bagel filter, cause Bagel made this game awesome, and i am quite shure people would like having another bagel design double fine point and click.

So. Different than for example amanita Design, that failed with an way too easy botanicula totally, they just could increase the game difficulty after the first adventure game they made in the next adventure game and … as with broken age they might have a next generation adventure game players on their hand, they can build challenging puzzles (well, maybe there gonne be one or if we are lucky maybe even two challeniging puzzles in part II … but my expactations are not so very high … leaving the hints aside would make it harder anyway, okay, thats true, theoretically the puzzles in part one could have been quite nice) and maybe the next adventure game of double fine would be a absolut hit. As it would not only got the eyecandy graphics from double fine (i really totally love the grapics at double fine! Did it with the cave allready), tims awesome writing that is gonne take you back into the good old times, in the very nicest way, but this time plus a gameplay, that is worth it to consider it as a reason to buy!

Of course, it is not mine to making any of those thoughts. I am just thinking, making my own thoughts about that. So if broken age will pay off nicely, people will love the grapics.

Maybe in the next game, they gonne need some more reasons than just perfect awesome living picture book graphics.

So than they can bring it on the next level and have plus the graphics nice oldschooly adventure game puzzle gameplay. Maybe even not too oldschool. In my mind it could be as different as they like. As long as it is kinda more complex (but even in part one they wouldn't have needed much more complexity for more challenge) and keep you puzzleing.

The one thing that is missing with double fines adventure game ONE.

So when broken age will pay of nicely, it will not be because the puzzles. If they gonne do another adventure game - and it would be even kinda very logical if they do - they just gonne make their success with another, a more fun and challanging gameplay, in my mind.

Maybe double fine might still revive the genre. Maybe we also might need a little more patience. Maybe they just took the first huge step.

Well we will see.

But there are reasons about steam, why this game, if it gonne sell out like hell, will do so - just after the release of part II!

And a whole game they got to sell, on humble bundle, itunes store, play store, and drm free for mac pc and linux.

Anyway, people with linux systems love to have some games on their OS!

And sweet graphics are just one thing they really gonne like.

So i hope there gonne be enough money for them, doing another adventure. And that they would have learned some things from the first real point and click adventure their studio made and would have learned from maybe even the repeating critics that came with broken age part one. And we just still gonne see, if the critics gonne like the difficulty of part II, or not.

But even if not, there are good reasons why broken age gonne pay of nicely. the biggest plus is: All the OS's. Beautiful Graphics.

Thats a good combination.

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And when part II is ready, they still could have some time on their hand, and might just than kill all the hints that are just too much in part One, and add that changed version as a extended hard mode for part I, together with part II, and in my mind, they would allready could have the perfect adventure game in their handy just now.

They also could call it "Play the first half of the game in tutorial mode?"

That would be maybe even quite perfect as a marketing thing to call it so ^^ ( that name "tutorial mode" even quite will be very true, as part one is like it is, for people that didn't played an adventure game ever and have to find into the gameplay … so a "tutorial mode" is kinda what it is)

So if you click "No, thank you, i don't like a tutorial mode" after that question, you got a adventure game expirience, even in part one, with much lesser hints and maybe here and there added just one or two more steps in some puzzles solution. I could imagine, when the game is a bigger thing, where kinda part one and two just melt together, that would work out just fine.

And i do beliefe it will pay perfectly of if they do so!

So i guess that little addition, gameplay wise, in part one, would very much help them, really revive the genre, and making a huge financal success with that game after the release of part II! And if you compare the efford, and what i believe, what it pay of for them, a hard mode should be really considered.

That the sucess just gonne stay on a normal level while there is only the first half and that steam thing … well, that wouldn't surprise me much. But it is for bringing money in. But it is not for bringing all the money allready in they wanne make with this game. So i think it is even a very good solution.

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BA had better be a commercial success. You do realize that DF has been pouring profit from other games into this every step of the way? If the project had been within budget (and I completely understand why it wasn't) then it wouldn't have been so important. But as is, it actually needs to at least help them break even with every additional dollar they spent. I don't know how it's performing right now sales-wise but hopefully that's not too far away.

That being said, what constitutes a commercial success here? This was such a large scale project that the lessons learned alone would constitute a success at the break-even point. However, would a break-even discourage DF from ever trying this kind of project again? At this point, would it require it to be a financial success to match the funds they contributed? I don't know, only they know that.

It looks like they're trying to get to a point where they can safely self-publish which would be wonderful. If BA were a huge commercial success, it would potentially make DF a self-publisher which means great things for us considering their love of making games. But I suppose getting them there right now isn't as important as making sure they survive well past this project.

You think crowd-funding their games is a negative, from a PR perspective? How so?
There's a lot more public scrutiny than any development company should have to deal with. Thousands of individuals, mostly well meaning, who claw at the development and their PR reps tirelessly for details.

You just saw DF announce that they were simply releasing one half of the project early. The media almost imploded at that news and painted all kinds of nonsensical garbage across the web about misuse of funds and all other silly things when an early release of half to help fund the end doesn't mean the project is failed. Any single failure is a huge PR issue and every development cycle is going to have small problems that the media will latch onto as a failure even if it isn't. It can be bad from a PR perspective. This time it was a mixed bag because it also gave up front capital generated by PR and buzz over the success of the project and bad because of the scrutiny.

The best case scenario for DF will be if they get to a point where they can fully self-publish their games. Then it's just a matter of them accurately gauging market interest in the game before beginning development to avoid losing their hats.

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