Indie Haven June Developer Roundtable – Is Kickstarter the Saviour of Indie? Laura Kate June 3, 2013 Features We at Indie Haven like to get you as close as possible to the games you love, and the people making them. That’s why every month we aim to bring together a wide selection of of Indie Developers from all walks of life, from BAFTA winners to teenage and student devs, to discuss the hottest issues affecting games, development, coverage and the Indie community. These chats will be broken up into chunks and released across the month, before we start all over again with new developers and new questions. This month we welcome a brand new group of developers to the Roundtable. We’ve got Anna Marsh (Developer at Lady Shotgun games, developers of Buddha Finger), Simon Roth (Developer of the huge Kickstarter success Maia), Ashley Ross (lead developer at OmNomCom and creator of the upcoming game Girl With a Laser Cannon), Gordon Midwood (Creative force behind the brilliant Derrick the Deathfin) and Andrew Roper (Recent University graduate working on the game Lazarus). Holly Keenan (Half of the husband and wife team behind A Virus Named Tom) also joins us toward the end of the Roundtable. If you’re an Indie Dev of any size that would like to take part in a future roundtable, please email Laurak@IndieHaven.com and let us know a little about yourself. The more the merrier. Introductions Laura Kate: Okay, does everyone want to start by just briefly introducing themselves? Anna Marsh: I’m Anna Marsh and I’m the main bod in Lady Shotgun – we made a game called Buddha Finger which some of you might know, we just released it on Windows Phone. Simon Roth: I’m Simon Roth. I’m making Maia and I worked on VVVVVV, Kinectimals and some other things. Ashley Ross: I’m SudoRossy. I’m the lead dev for OmNomCom, currently working on a procedurally generated Top-down shooter called “Girl with a laser cannon”. Gordon Midwood: I’m Gordon Midwood & I made lilt line & Derrick the Deathfin and now I am deciding what to do next. Andrew Roper: I’m Andrew Roper, recently finished University and have been developing Lazarus with Spilt Milk Studios and formed IndieSkies with some coursemates in 2011 for placement. I also like cake. Gordon Midwood: While we are all here: shall we form a club and make a game together? Laura Kate: Okay, let’s jump in with question one. I think this one might be a little controversial. “Is Kickstarter the Saviour of Indie?” Simon Roth: I may be biased! Anna Marsh: Um, not for most of us I think. I think you need to be pretty well known before you launch a Kickstarter for it to have any success. Gordon Midwood: I think I will try a Kickstarter later in the year, but as Anna says it is a bit tricky – but Simon did it! Anna Marsh: But obviously it can help some people. Simon Roth: Kickstarter is only useful if you can pull off a major marketing stunt. If you have the wherewithal to do so, then it’s likely you could have drummed up enough interest to sell preorders, early alphas and the like anyway. Gordon Midwood: It requires a lot of effort to run a successful Kickstarter it seems, but if you get the money then its free no? Anna Marsh: It also seems like the Kickstarter crowd know what they like and like what they know – if you wanted to do something totally new that couldn’t be framed as a “spiritual successor to” or along those lines, I think it would be a struggle to get funded this way for a game.And its 5% to Kickstarter I believe. Ashley Ross: Kickstarter isn’t the Saviour of indie, by any means. But I think it’s a good help for those that want to develop but can’t for monetary reasons. The real thing that stops people abusing it is that your campaign will fail if you have a bad idea or lack the marketing skills needed for a “successful” game. While I don’t think marketing should be important, it most certainly is and if you want to make money from your game you definitely need similar skills to those required for running a good campaign. Andrew Roper: I think success on Kickstarter as an indie is relative to how well know you are when you start. There’s a lot of great ideas out there, but don’t make it because it’s not well known. I wouldn’t really say it’s the saviour, sure it’s helped people, but it currently feels like it’s a big ground of well known studios/people just avoiding publishers Simon Roth: Kickstarter is far from free. I did 16 hour days for 4 weeks. The time and manpower required is a major expense. Ashley Ross: I hear you Simon, mine’s rapidly failing due to time constraints ¬_¬ Anna Marsh: Wow, that’s a lot of work Simon. Is that mostly answering questions from backers? Andrew Roper: Yeah, there’s the amount of work that has to go into it to run it and keep it alive, which could also be spent on development. If you’re small and starting out, time is extremely valuable. Gordon Midwood: Ah yes, that’s what I meant with effort – but its better than a publisher deal *if* you are successful is what I was trying to say. Keep IP, keep revenue etc. Ashley Ross: Kickstarter is not an alternative to a publisher, it’s an alternative to publisher funding. Gordon Midwood: Yes that’s what I meant too. Simon Roth: @Anna – Yes, also engaging with press is intense. A good email interview for me can take 4-6 hours. And I lost my voice from phone ones. Anna Marsh: Crikey! Andrew Roper: @Ashley – Ah yeah, reading back I worded it wrong. Was just an alternative to publisher funding Anna Marsh: As with any funding, you need to get as far as generating enough materials/a prototype just to launch it. If I’d got as far as a prototype and could either do publisher funding or a kickstarter, I think I’d factor in the user acquisition that the publisher would do as well as the money. I wouldn’t rule out a Kickstarter though. And with that we end another segment of Indie Dev Roundtable here at Indie Haven. Next time we discuss whether or not Piracy can make an Indie game successful. What do you think? If you were developing a game would you use Kickstarter to fund it? What are the ingredients of a successful Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @Indie_Haven.