By Alice O'Connor on May 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am.
A small tip for games developers consider crowdfunding: if your video game is about big stompy robots gallivanting around blowing up other, even bigger robots, your pitch video should probably skip straight to that. Don’t, say, open with some logos, a quote from Carl Jung, and slow footage of a robot ambling about while orchestral music plays. Stompy robots. Guns. Go.
So! World War Machine is about eerily organic robots stomping around and fighting. You can upgrade and customise your robot to make it a cooler, stompier, fightier robot. Your friends can come stomp around too! It’s now crowdfunding, looking for $50,000 (£30 grand) on Indiegogo.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? Yes, World War Machine is an action-RPG-y top-down shooter starring giant stompy robots, with local and online co-op. Collecting materials and blueprints will let robots craft new weapons (or 3D-print them, as this is the future) and modules giving abilities from dashes to orbital strikes. Boom bosh, that’s the game.
Those 50 seconds of uninteresting stuff at the start of the video were to set the tone: everyone on Earth died but loads of people uploaded themselves into computers first, then forgot they were ever people, and now like to have fights by making robots. Then one remembers “Hey, we were people!”
World War Machine has come through the Square Enix Collective, which is a weird thing. Developers submit their games to be listed on the Collective site, then if Jo Public likes one enough, Square Enix will vet the dev team to see if they know how to make a video game. If Squeenix believe they do, they launch an IndieGogo campaign with them. Yet they seemingly don’t even offer basic advice on trailers. What’s in it for devs? They get publicity and feedback from the listing, but one imagines it’s less than they could with a minor marketing offensive.
The central service the Collective performs is supposedly vetting dev teams, but Square Enix still don’t guarantee a game will be finished. The reason games don’t net crowdfunding isn’t typically because people think the devs are cheats who don’t even know how to make a game. People either don’t know about a game and therefore can’t back it, or do know and don’t want to give it money. The Collective is a solution for the problem of ‘publishers feel left out of crowdfunding.’
It’s a weird thing.