It was inevitable that I was going to become jaded against Kickstarter. In the beginning it was a perfect platform for independent artists to create otherwise unobtainable dreams. People with a lot of vision but not a lot of bankroll could appeal to the masses in order to finance their projects. Things turned a corner however in 2013 when film and television star Zach Braff used Kickstarter to finance his independent film ‘Wish I Was Here’. This immediately posed the question: ‘Who is Kickstarter for?’ Many people felt like someone in a position of prestige within his given industry such as Braff was taking advantage of the program when he had many more opportunities than most to fund his project by more traditional means. It was a valid point, but with a public program such as Kickstarter, the people choose with their wallets what they deem to be a worthy project for public funding and the people viewed Braff’s project as one worthy of their dollars. It was a pretty great movie too.
The question of who should be asking for Kickstarter cash has been echoed many times since then and seems very relevant today with a lot of spotlight Kickstarter campaigns within the video game industry popping up recently. We’ve been introduced to campaigns from industry veterans such as Koji Igarashi (of Castlevania fame), Yu Suzuki (Shenmue), The former creative team from Rare, and Keichi Inafune (Mighty No. 9). It’s odd to think that any one of these guys would find any difficulty launching a new IP, but yet each of them took to the Internet to ask for the public to fund their new projects.
The argument I suppose is that these guys with the help of public funding are able to stay away from going to game publishers who will impose on the creative process and not allow these artists true freedom and ownership of their works. This sense of vision was very evident in the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter which was Keiji Inafune’s way of saying to his fans ‘If Capcom won’t remove their heads from their asses, we can make the next Mega Man TOGETHER!’ It was a great idea and an empowering way for the audience to be a part of giving power back to the artist.
But then something strange happened. With Mighty No. 9 fully funded and awaiting release in a few months, Inafune has gone back to Kickstarter to… ask for more money? His new Kickstarter for “Red Ash” hopes to bring about the spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends much in the same way MN9 was the rebirth of Mega Man. Great idea in theory, but here’s the thing: With MN9 not even on shelves yet, another of his games having recently released on 3DS (Azure Gunvolt), a new game franchise in development for XBOX ONE (ReCore), and a MN9 movie and TV show both in production, I have to ask Keiji Inafune: WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME FOR F***ING MONEY?!
He seems to be doing pretty well for himself and seems like a far cry from the independent artist who just can’t complete his vision without our help. Now I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of making a game in the slightest. But I do know as someone looking in from the outside this whole thing seems crappy. The Shenmue 3 campaign also came under scrutiny after it was revealed that Sony was really bankrolling part of the project from backstage which did not seem to be the case when the Kickstarter launched. More questions arose about who is asking for our money and what is it really going towards?
It is inevitable with programs like this where you’re offering up your money in good faith as an investment that people are going to wonder what it is they’re getting for their buck. There are going to be artists who really need the support and there are going to be companies who are just padding their pockets. The water isn’t always clear and we have to be careful about what we feel is really worth our support. As consumers and investors we have to make our voices heard through our backing or not-backing of projects. Money talks in this case. Be careful what you say.
This week’s speed painting is the Fallout Hero.. guy. OK, I’ve never played Fallout, but I know he wears a dorky ass blue jumpsuit!