Earlier this month, Bloodstained director IGA and La-Mulana 2 director Takumi Naramura had a discussion where they talked about their experiences and thoughts on using Kickstarter as a crowdfunding platform for their respective games. [Thanks, DenFamiNicoGamer!]
Here are the highlights:
On their experiences beginning a Kickstarter campaign:
Takumi Naramura, La-Mulana 2 director: “For me, regarding crowdfunding, I had seen the success of Mighty No. 9’s Kickstarter, which provided a precedent of Japanese creators also succeeding in this sort of thing.”
“When I attended Tokyo Game Show in 2013, I had already decided that I would do a Kickstarter,but it took a long time before I was able to do it. On the other hand, thanks to this I was able to refine the campaign strategy.”
IGA, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night director: “For me, the time we’d begin was already decided. Despite this, issues like needing a legal person overseas would pop up, so it felt like, “Will we make it on time?”
However, our Kickstarter went well because our Kickstarter was run by the ones that did the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter. That’s why they were able to reflect and improve on what they should have done better during the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter […] However, we hadn’t decided on the stretch goals, so we were panicking like, “If we don’t decide quickly, the next one will come!”
On stretch goals:
Naramura: “We began with no knowhow of what to do, so we took inspiration from what Inafune-san and overseas successes did, but I realized that with each game, the targeted fans were different, and realized what fans wanted and didn’t want.
At the time, it was still not easy to port with Unity or Unreal Engine, so La-Mulana 2 console port stretch goals were quite high. However, it’s great that now, four years later, it’s not that expensive.”
IGA: “It’s gotta be that “you can’t make rash promises”. […] There are many cases where things that were easy to add in before have become harder under current development environments. Before, when we created games from the ground up, everything was controlled by us, but now if you use middleware, there are things that you just can’t deal with yourself. These are things you understand with hindsight.”
Regarding Kickstarter delays:
Naramura: “Speaking from the scale of our studio, I thought that the game would take a few years to make. However, when releasing a Kickstarter, if you were to say ‘release date undecided’, people wouldn’t back it, right?
That’s why there was a somewhat optimistic release date estimation. However, I didn’t think it would be late to this point.”
“When I entered hospital for neck hernia, I thought, “Aw yeah, now I have an excuse!”” (laughs) […] That was what came to my mind first. But a few days after entering hospital, I’d already brought in a PC to continue work. The doctor was like, “It’s good for rehabilitation.”.”
IGA: “When you add in stretch goals, it’s true that development time will extend beyond the planned period at the beginning, but even more major than that are changes in the development scene that really destroyed the initial estimates of cost and time.”
On the topic of those backer rewards for “eating dinner with the developer”…
IGA: “Right, there were three people. Inafune-san had done something similar, so I thought I’d add it too. However, I still haven’t done it. Also, there was one reward where we’d play games together.
In the first place, those were high-tier backer rewards, so those will definitely be done. Also there was one where a ring would be made.”
Naramura: “Those people live around the world, right?”
IGA: “It’s ended up that they will be flying here to meet me. And the transportation costs are self-paid…”
Naramura: “Huh… Though it’s those people who were able to back such an amount in the first place.”
IGA: “I’m really grateful towards them.”
On working with fan feedback:
IGA: “Also, I believe that being able to see whether the fans will be satisfied with the game is both good and bad. In normal game development, game info will release around 1 year beforehand. However, by that time, we are unable to change how the game works. With this sort of development method used this time, I was able to communicate with the fans during a period where such changes were still possible.”
Naramura: “These sorts of changes in the early phase of development is unheard of in normal development, but there are many things you’d really want to hear as soon as possible, so in that sense it really helps out.
There is no guarantee of quality for Kickstarter. However, I did want to give something that was fun that paid back the expectations of the fans. It’s just that this sort of pressure does have a negative effect for me.”
IGA: “There are many opinions from people, but if you heed them all, the game won’t have any uniqueness. We’re a bunch that likes to stand out from the crowd, so I believe that the final decision must always be made by us.
With that in mind, Kickstarter is a great way to show off the unique features while collecting all sorts of opinions.”
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. La-Mulana 2 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.