Crowdfund Watch: January

We take a closer look at some of January's most promising crowdfunding campaigns and look back at December's picks.

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It's been a while since we last did a Crowdfund Watch piece, mainly because it seemed most developers wanted to avoid the Christmas period with their campaigns. But now there's once again a healthy influx of new campaigns so let's take a look at what's going on.

To The Death (Linux, Mac, PC)
Scary Mostro & Section Studios
Kickstarter page
Progress: $27,010 pledged of $400,000 goal (334 backers) 26 days remaining

"Gravity defying, genre combining, beat'em-up, shoot'em-up, action game, brought to you by an alliance of game industry veterans!" That's To the Death in a sentence as stated on their Kickstarter page. Scary Mostro started by Infinity Ward and Respawn Entertainment veterans Todd Alderman and Francesco Gigliotti have teamed up with Section Studios and their creative director Cecil Kim (God of War series) for a genre mix that blends a beat 'em up with a shoot 'em up, but also brings a lot of novel concepts and a unique look.

Crowdfund Watch: January

Outlook: To the Death has not really taken off and needs a boost to reach it's target of $400,000. Perhaps one problem is that the developer pedigree here doesn't align with the genre. And while there are novel things about To the Death that makes it stand out, it's still a lot of money to ask for. Remains to be seen if To the Death can pull off a miracle or whether it's back to the drawing board for Scary Mostro and Section Studios.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen (Mac, PC)
Visionary Realms, Inc.
Kickstarter page
Progress: $209,299 pledged of $800,000 goal (1,683 backers) 28 days remaining

Brad McQuaid was one of the brains behind the original Everquest and he went on to found Sigil Games who created Vanguard: Saga of Heroes - an MMORPG that while criticised by the masses had a cult following. Now he's back with Visionary Realms to create a brand, new challenging MMORPG that is going to bring in some elements he wasn't able to realise in Everquest or Vanguard due to the technical limitations at the time.

"Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is an MMORPG based on challenging gameplay and open world high fantasy, with a strong focus on group-oriented content. It takes place in a world populated by deities and heroes called Terminus. Mortal and planar shards have collided, creating the dramatic and epic environment of Terminus. With some of those shards came deities and demigods that, over time, raised empires and forged a turbulent political landscape. Centuries later, new planar collisions have occurred that will pull the players into the world and its politics."

Outlook: There is still plenty of time left on the campaign, but after a strong start it has stalled a bit. Visionary Realms have been good a posting updates and they likely have some interesting stuff that they are holding back for later in the campaign that could help lure in those who are unsure. But $800,000 is a lot to ask even with the pedigree of the Pantheon team - very few video game campaigns have reached such numbers. Remains to be seen if the MMO community comes through for Pantheon. It's a long road ahead for Pantheon as release isn't set until 2017. What's great about that is that backers will be able to have input throughout the journey.

Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians (Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, PC)
Playdek, Yasumi Matsuno
Kickstarter page
Progress: $419,460 pledged of $600,000 goal (10,309 backers) 21 days remaining

Longtime Square Enix contributor Yasumi Matsuno has teamed up with Playdek for a new tactical RPG in the spirit of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Matsuno was also the creative force behind Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII - two games that are held in high regard among JRPG fans.

"Unsung Story is an exciting turn-based, tactical war simulation RPG that plays across a great epoch, through individual story episodes. YOU, the player, research and explore the vast history of this conflict that nearly tore Rasfalia apart, by reliving past battles and political events."

Crowdfund Watch: January

Outlook: Unsung Story has already secured a lion share of its required funds and is tracking towards success by a healthy margin. However, Matsuno fans will no doubt what to see this game hit additional platforms as the base level only secures release on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac and PC with Nintendo 3DS ($1,500,000), PS Vita ($1,000,000) and PS4 ($1,250,000) platforms as stretch goals. We seriously hope this campaign will hit a million as it would be a terrible loss if Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII, Tactics Ogre) wasn't brought on to work on the score.

The Repopulation (PC)
Above and Beyond Technologies
Kickstarter page
Progress: $126,504 pledged of $50,000 goal (1,715 backers) 2 days remaining

The Repopulation is already fully funded (and beyond). It's been in development for many years and as a matter of fact this is the second time it's taken to Kickstarter for funding (follow the link to see the first campaign page). As you'd expect building an ambitious MMORPG from the ground up with an indie crew is a challenge, and the team needed more funding to take things to the beta testing phase without losing too many features (hiring extra hands) in the run-in towards full release.

Clearly, The Repopulation has built a stronger following in the 18 months since its last campaign and it will be interesting to see how it fares on release. It certainly has a niche of its own taking a lot of inspiration from the now closed down Star Wars Galaxies. We did an interview with co-lead Josh Halls at GDC 2012 about the game that you can watch below.

Outlook: Not much to add here as the campaign is already a success. There's still plenty of time until the game is finished though and there are further stretch goals to hit including a PvP Gladiator Arena (NPC cities) at $150,000 that could be within reach.

Last month's Crowdfund Watch:

Festival of Magic (Linux, Mac, PC, Wii U)
Snowcastle Games
Kickstarter page
Cancelled: $49,286 pledged of $250,000 goal (1,398 backers)

Snowcastle Games decided to pull the plug on their campaign with just under two weeks to go as it dawned on them they wouldn't make their $250,000 goal. But fear not, they shall return on February 20.

"With a PS4 Launch, an Xbox One Launch, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas Shopping, we launched the KS at a really bad time and given the time constraint we had we did not get to prepare the campaign as well as we wanted to. The pros for cancelling now outweigh the cons in our eyes. We have recently acquired a small financial injection which will keep us going until the relaunch in February. We want to use the time in between now and the relaunch to continue with development, as well as to prepare for the new kickstarter campaign."

Crowdfund Watch: January

Read-Only Memories (Android, iOS, Mac, Ouya, PC)
Kickstarter page
Funded: $64,378 pledged of $62,064 goal (1,016 backers)

The cyberpunk adventure with queer friendly characters just managed to squeeze past its target on Kickstarter. These kind of projects are necessary to widen the cultural impact of video games - an art form can not only serve the mainstream and therefore it's great to see signs of diversity here and there. Remains to be seen how it will turn out, but at least MidBoss now has funds try and bring their vision to completion. Since this game was part of Ouya's "double your money" initiative that saw Ouya match every dollar pledged with a dollar of their own - the campaign actually brought in substantially more than what the Kickstarter alone brought (there was also a period of PayPal pledges following the campaign).

Crowdfund Watch: January

Reset (PC)
Indiegogo page
Progress: €71,398 pledged of €65,000 goal (1979 backers)

Thanks to a very strong finish the gorgeous Reset managed to pass it's target on Indiegogo. It's clearly much more difficult to be successful with a large campaign outside of Kickstarter so a lot of credit needs to go to the Finnish developer for pulling it off.

"Thank you all! From a seemingly impossible situation you were able to drive the campaign to reach its goal just hours before the deadline. The final numbers stand at 71398€. The final statistics are not in yet, but over 20k€ was raised in the last day!"

With the promise of Oculus Rift support and potential for release on next-gen consoles down the line the sky's the limit for Reset.

Note: Numbers accurate as of the evening of January 24.

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