Hurrah! – Defense Grid 2 Funded By Secret Investor

By Nathan Grayson on April 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

But who defends the defenders?

Last summer, with our wallets combined, we nearly came together to form Defense Grid 2. But not quite. The cruel genie-in-a-bottle that is Kickstarter gave us most of what we wanted, but not all of it. So yes, surprise expansion Defense Grid: Containment got funded, but the promise of Defense Grid 2 melted like ash in our mouths when Hidden Path’s crowdfunding drive fell well short of $1,000,000. Jim and Alec have been weeping incessantly ever since. Now, however, I’m excited to report that they’ve stopped – and also that we’re getting a full Defense Grid sequel after all I guess! Some glorious tower-defending angel investor swept in from on high, and the day is saved.

Hidden Path explained the situation in a (sadly un-embeddable) video, but here’s the gist:

“You guys supported us. An investor saw your support, saw us make promises to you, saw us keep those promises to you, and after Containment shipped, they decided to partner with us and invest in Defense Grid 2.”

“Defense Grid 2. Fully funded. Moving forward.”

Assuming it’s keeping in line with the original vision proposed on Kickstarter, Defense Grid 2 will include a 20-mission campaign with a new look, new aliens, new tower types, new modes, and a new story. Here’s hoping that means more charmingly entertaining narration as well.

Oh, and it gets better. Even though Kickstarter only raised a hair over $250,000, backers (at the $15 tier and beyond) still get a free copy. On top of that, since the $750,000 goal has now technically been met, a level editor and Mac/Linux support are in as well.

The pleasantly RTS-ish tower defense sequel will be out early next year. I suggest you begin gridding your loins in preparation.

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43 Comments »

  1. Spoon Of Doom says:

    That’s pretty cool news, actually. I liked the first one a lot, and also backed DG2 on Kickstarter. Looking forward to this.

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, defence grid was a very good game so I’m really looking forward to what will do with a sequel. I hope they keep up the standard of the voicing, that rather made the game for me.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        This wasn’t on my radar at the time of the kickstarter, but I’ve since then been playing a lot of DG: The Awakening after being recommended it in a comment thread here at RPS. So a DG2 does sound quite interesting to me now.

  2. CaspianRoach says:

    So it’s Valve, then?

    • Cross says:

      Doesn’t seem unlikely, i grant you.

      • DarkLiberator says:

        Wouldn’t be surprising. They worked together on CSGO and AOE2HD.

    • jalf says:

      Has Valve ever done anything like this before, just *invested* in others making a game?

      Isn’t it more their style to just buy the company?

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Hidden Path Entertainment have been working for VALVe for a while without VALVe buying them outright.
        They were given the job of curators of CS:S for a while before being asked to develop CS:GO while VALVe concentrated on other stuff (Portal 2, Dota 2 & their super secret projects).

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Sounds reasonable guess, given they’re already talking Steam, PC, Mac and Linux whereas from what I can tell the first game was only PC (no Mac / Linux). I’d imagine the Mac/Linux support would be part of a deal with Valve as they’d be looking to expand those particular catalogues.

    • squirrelrampage says:

      A little late here, but it seems like Steve Dengler/Dracogen has confirmed his involvement:

      https://twitter.com/Dracogen/status/335819486303232001

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Thank you, shadowy figure! I’m glad that you are pleased with the progress of the XCOM project.

  4. Frosty840 says:

    Just a note that the whole Defense Grid shebang appears to currently be on Steam Weekend Deal http://store.steampowered.com/app/18500/ (I can’t do links :( ); probably something to do with this announcement, I guess.

  5. porps says:

    Great news, i can almost taste the rasberries!

  6. BTAxis says:

    So that’s a Yikes and a Hurrah! in the same day. I am confused, what am I supposed to be feeling!?

  7. luckystriker says:

    “gridding your loins in preparation” lovely line Nathan, well played.

    And I will be doing just that, once I figure out how.

  8. Yemala says:

    I’m really glad to hear that they have the funding from other sources. I know that I, for one, was unwilling to support their kickstarter due to how utterly nonsensically it was put together, but I will eagerly await an opportunity to give them money for the product that I would actually like.

  9. BurningPet says:

    Regardless of those great news, i feel i must point something out:

    “Oh, and it gets better. Even though Kickstarter only raised a hair over $250,000, backers (at the $15 tier and beyond) still get a free copy.”

    it doesn’t get better, it just doesn’t get illegal.

    From their Kickstarter page
    “you’ll also get DG2 – either funded directly from this Kickstarter or later when we are able to release it ourselves. We’ll also create a new private forum for backers that you can join.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2012″

    Its basically saying, “Hey guys, you paid for something, good news! you will get it for free!”

    err, no, we don’t get it for free, we get it for what we paid for it. and let me take a calculated risk and assume that the majority of those who backed that KS project, only did so with the promise of DG2.

    And why am i nitpicking? because if reporters all around celebrate that pure PR fact as an act of generosity, this means they would have not criticized them if they had not allowed those who pre-purchased the game to actually get it.

    which is EXACTLY like if a successful kickstarter had reached a certain stretch goal and decided not to include the stretched goal content in the original game but later deliver it in a paid DLC.

    No, scratch that, its even worse, because stretch goals are not there from the start and perhaps not what determine whether a backer decide to back it or not, so, its more like, EXACTLY like a successful kickstarter decides that it doesn’t deliver any of the tier rewards.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      If you cared to watch the video Nathan linked to, it’s definitely not being portrayed as you’re inferring.

      Jeff: “You are going to get a free copy of Defense Grid 2.”
      Jim: “Just like we promised”

      And here’s a hint for you: Kickstarter backing is not a pre-order despite many people considering it such and it doesn’t come with consumer protection like a pre-order or sale.

      • AngoraFish says:

        I think you’ve misinterpreted the OP’s post, but for what it’s worth – they promised everyone who pledged a copy of the game if it ever got made, and it’s getting made, so they’re not giving it for ‘free’, they’re giving it in exchange for the pledge.

        If the game ends up getting made and they don’t give backers a free copy they very much would have been open to possible legal claims for breach of contract.

        Your fallacious ‘consumer protection’ argument would only ever apply if the game never got made at all, in which case you would be correct. Here’s a hint for you: you’re not.

        • BurningPet says:

          As i said below. you are correct. backing in generally is not considered a pre-purchase, it is considered a donation. however, if a reward is tied to a pledge tier, then it is a pre-purchase. no way around it. people don’t just treat it as a pre-purchase, the project creators are the ones treating it as such, hence why people follow.

    • AngoraFish says:

      The original kickstarter campaign was super dodgy and the only reason they even made a smidgeon over their minimum (which was still only 25% of the amount they actually needed to make the game) was by giving away hundreds of ‘donated’ video cards below cost. The OP is being overly generous in his characterization, and certainly the entire article shows a quite extraordinary degree of short term memory loss. The whole thing has been PR spin from day one.

      • Wang Tang says:

        I really don’t get why someone would characterise their KS as “dodgy”. They clearly stated they want to make DG2, and need a million for that. In the event the KS would only bring up 250k, they would develop a DLC for DG1, and if they find someone who fills the gap, they’d make a DG2 and everyone who pledged would get a copy. There’s nothing dodgy on that.

        From OP: “it doesn’t get better, it just doesn’t get illegal. ”
        IANAL, but I’m still not quite sure of the legal implications if a KS gets funded, but doesn’t deliver the goods. As I see it, that would amount to a broken promise. But KS backers are backing to have a product created. That they may or may not receive the product is sweeteners.

        As such, there of course is a moral obligation. But a legal one? Not so sure.

        • Surlywombat says:

          They called the kickstarter “Defense Grid 2″ but Defense Grid 2 was a stretch goal. Felt pretty dodgy to me. It felt like they were attempting to force Indiegogo’s flexible funding into Kickstarter.

          I very much enjoyed the first game, and have funded many kickstarters. But the way they handled their Kickstarter stopped me jumping in.

          • jalf says:

            Why exactly was it a problem though? Other than just “wah, it doesn’t follow what I see as the rules of Kickstarter”?

            It’s not like if they only got $999,999, they’d just give up on DG2 and just make the smaller things and then call it quits.
            They were very clear that they wanted to make DG2, and they would work towards making DG2 with however much funding they got. Almost all of the stretch goals were things they needed to do *anyway* in order to create DG2, and making those things would bring them some of the way towards releasing DG2, so that hopefully, they’d be able to find other funding to get them the last bit of the way. The kickstarter was for creating DG2. The stretch goal was for “making DG2 here and now with no other sources of funding”. But even at its lowest tier, the kickstarter was for “getting us some of the way towards DG2″.

            I’ll agree it was unusal, and all the ATI goodies they were giving away seemed really weird and out of place, but I don’t see why people are in such a hurry to paint them as dodgy or dishonest.

          • Deano2099 says:

            @jalf – the trouble is they could have got to to $999999 and said “okay we’re not doing DF2″ then. They could have even have then spent that money on making the game that was going to be DF2, call it something entirely different (or even just blatantly DF3) and there’d be no rights left with the backers.

            In this case they didn’t do that, they were being honest about it. But it’s also exactly what a Kickstarter scam could look like.

        • BurningPet says:

          Here’s the tricky thing that kickstarter are very well aware of.

          Project creators are not legally bound to deliver on the project, even if it gets funded, as it is considered a donation.

          however, and that’s the big however here, the tier reward are pure business transactions and thus must abide the law.

          If you promise a t-shirt, you must deliver. no question about it. well, its exactly the same thing, even if the tier reward is just the project itself. if you promise it and the project gets funded, hence, that tier backers money has been taken, it is now considered like any old fashioned pre-purchase.

          You can edit anything in the kickstarter page, except for the tier rewards, there the creators are extremely limited. why? because kickstarter are well aware that the tier rewards are like any other transaction.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

            Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

    • Dachannien says:

      It’s not like they’re using this as a marketing gimmick (aka FREE plus shipping and handling). They’re trying to reassure backers that when DG2 comes out, they won’t have to buy it on Steam or wherever – they’ll automatically get a copy without having to buy it. Saying “free” is just a shortcut way of saying that.

  10. Eddard_Stark says:

    The fact that they needed a big investment in the first place (crowdfunding or private investors) to make DG2 is what puzzled me way back when they were running the Kickstarter campaign. I mean they self-published DG1 + expansion packs/DLCs and as far as I can judge all those games actually did quite well, you could even say DG1 was a hit. How big a budget do you need for a full-fledged sequel in the tower defense genre that a successful self-published original game which topped digital charts couldn’t provide? I mean what the hell? There’s something fundamentally wrong if a selfpublishing digital model is unsustainable in such a relatively low-cost genre as TD. Or Hidden Path simply went for an extra cash-grab with their Kickstarter and are now just throwing this “secret investor” line at us as a decoy while having enough money to make the sequel all along. I really don’t know what to think here.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Maybe they went into personal debt severely in order to fund the first game (not unlikely), it was a success (at a reasonable price point from the start mind you) so they’ve used that money to repay the debt and fund continued support for the first game. They’ve then run the kickstarter to fund containment, and now have the choice of going into significant debt again for DG2 (not preferred, they’ve probably got families to support) or get a publisher/investor deal.

      • Eddard_Stark says:

        That’s a plausible explanation, I’ll stick to it I guess as I like Hidden Path and their games.

      • LintMan says:

        They did do some discussion of this, but many had already written them off by that point.

        IIRC, Hidden Path is a decent-sized studio – something like 30+ employees, maybe more. Much of their profits were spent on payroll, keeping the team together between their other projects. And while they sold a lot of copies of DG and exansions, those weren’t exactly expensive and Steam gets a big cut, and further, many many of those copies sold during 50% and 75% Steam sales.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I think they talked about that a lot when the KS came out. Comes down to the fact that they’re a sizable company, they’re not just five indie developers working out of flats.

    • LawTGuy says:

      Hidden Path didn’t do a good job of communicating the financial situation during the kickstarter. What eventually came out is that they projected DG2 as a 3 million dollar project. They set aside 2 million of their own money towards DG2 development. They went to Kickstarter to get the remaining 1 million and they only got $250,000. Now they’ve got the $750,000+ from the secret investor so they can now complete development of DG2.

      Now wait a minute you say, didn’t the $250,000 go towards making the DG:Containment DLC? Yes, but proceeds from that went back into the DG2 budget. They expected to sell enough DLC content to at least break even.

      So it was a pretty complicated plan and they didn’t really explain it well. That’s probably why they didn’t get the 1 million they were looking for from the kickstarter.

      • LintMan says:

        DG2 got over 6200 backers, and compared to, say Hero-U or SpaveVenture , it netted less money per backer, and very close to the same amount per backer as Grim Dawn.

        I think part of their problem was that the game itself was cheap – $15 and there wasn’t a lot of reasons to contribute higher unless you were buying discount hardware too. So they needed to get a whole lot of people on board.

        But after a very strong start, donations flatlined when people started thinking about how the game itself was actually just a stretch goal, and cynicism rapidly set in, which is the kiss of death to a kickstarter,
        which is all about hope and faith.

        I believe that decision to try to arrange for IndieGoGO-like “flexible funding” via the strech goals was a colossal mistake, but don’t think they ever had any intention to double-dip by getting people to donate for the KS to get just the Containment addon, and then charge people again later for DG2. It seems like they just didn’t think it through all the way.

  11. Bobka says:

    It’s good that they didn’t do a face-heel and deny backers their copy.

    Also, excellent that they are making the sequel! I really enjoyed the first one.

  12. trooperwally says:

    Happy news!

    But, is anyone else concerned that this could become a trend? Putting my investor hat on..

    /dons investor hat and monocle

    wouldn’t an investor just want any project to have demonstrated a certain level of market appetite via kickstarter before investing? So couldn’t otherwise traditionally funded projects just end up on kickstarter but still with loads of strings attached? I haven’t read enough (any!) of the Kickstarter Ts and Cs to know if this is possible but I wouldn’t like to see Kickstarter become a glorified polling tool for investors (even though some investors are lovely – as this article shows!).

    • Tssha says:

      All investors are looking for some indication that a company can deliver on what it promises (that, and a sane valuation of the company). Kickstarter works as well as anything to indicate interest, and while past performance may not guarantee future returns, they certainly help reassure investors that it’s likely and possible.

      Watch enough Dragons’ Den and you pick some of this up. It’s like Shark Tank, but Canadian!

    • AngoraFish says:

      It is questionable whether the DG2 KS established anything of the sort given that the only reason it scraped over its relatively small minimum was by giving away video cards below cost. It seems likely that a good chunk of its backers didn’t even know what DG was, they were just using kickstarter as a discount hardware retailer.

  13. Beernut says:

    Maybe there’s a well known persson behind all of this? It would notch surprise me at all (just a hunch though, in case you were age-of-wondering).

    • LintMan says:

      Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. You beat me to it, but I don’t mine.

  14. MeestaNob says:

    Why does this company seem to have so many financial issues? They’ve done numerous bits of contract work for Valve, and everyone seems to have played a Defense Grid game so sales must be good. What is going on over there?