Kickstarter mmos: Are mobile mmos unfundable?

Tobold posted an intriguing blog post re. kickstarter mmos the other day, he was inspired by Syp’s list of which games he was interested in and would actually play, but it got me thinking about how Tobold’s premise that financing a good mmo on kickstarter may not be possible, may be correct given the high industry costs associated with mmorpgs. I was myself interested in discovering if there were any guild-centric games in development, or looking to be crowdfunded, so I did a little bit of investigating and web surfing.

It looks as though out of the few games proposed dating back to 2012, only one has been completely funded, and it wasn’t even a traditional mmorpg, but more of a social game for facebook, albeit inspired by table top rpgs. Guildmasters, described at the time by its developers (Otherwind) as the first and only game on facebook that is actually a rpg, was successfully funded in the fall of 2012.

Check out their trailer:

So a little more than 100 people were intrigued to pledge, but that was apparently enough to reach the $8,000 goal the developers set. William Diehl, founder of Snowfury Studios, another developer looking to kickstart an mmo said, “kickstarter is shifting the balance of power in the game industry from large publishers to gamers like you.”  But is it really? I mean clearly for every Guildmasters there are at least five or six other projects that didn’t make the crowdfunding cut, including Project Snowstorm, Snowfury Studios’ game. Out of all these games, it isn’t very encouraging to note that at the time this blog post was written, Guildmasters could not even be played on facebook, presumably because of some technical glitches. At least the game company provided users with a humorous placeholder:

errorsontheservers

Jared Mark, developer of The Seige of Vermund: A Matter of Life and Death, another mmorpg that failed to meet its crowdsourcing goals on kickstarter had this to say about mmorpg game styles: “I want to make an mmorpg that is far different from the norm you see today, this is not just another world of warcraft clone, in fact I despise the entire world of warcraft model of mmorpg and I think it’s time we get past that model don’t you?”

“There’s enough first person shooters out there, I want to build a game where you never have to pick up a sword, or a bow or cast as spell, and you can still find yourself feeling fulfilled and content,” he said.

It sounds good in theory, but I can’t help to lament that he only got five backers to pledge $360 to the project last fall, a far cry from his $75,000 goal and maybe a testament to the fact mmorpg gamers maybe be satisfied with the current batch of Wow like games already permeating the industry.

My point is that the only mmorpg kickstarter game that was remotely successful isn’t even playable, though I assume someone has played it on facebook at some point, and that it does not seem that others are having much luck with the crowdfunding route. I would be pissed about this if I had kicked in some bucks to the development team. Compare this to a bigger name and bigger scoped project: namely the DAoC inspired Camelot Unchained, the announced and much hyped tri-realm, RvR focused “old mmorpg” being developed by City Entertainment, headed by Mark Jacobs, formerly of Mythic Entertainment and former developer of Dark Age of Camelot.

I discovered another interesting commonality with the unfunded guild-centric mmorpg projects on kickstarter, there’s a common thread running through a lot of them: They are being developed for next gen devices like mobile phones and tablets. This begs the question is the mmorpg player base, the same community which these games are aimed at and which ultimately theoretically help to fund these games even ready to play them on these devices? Or are mmorpgs because of their immersive qualities, designs and aesthetics destined to be exclusive to the PC for some time to come? After all, they haven’t exactly been a staple of consoles either. The MMO Guild Report, will keep an eye on this for you all.

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