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Kickstarter Evolved: Fargo Wants To "Kick It Forward"

The Wasteland 2 Kickstarter page, which has a goal of $900,000, currently shows over $1.5 million pledged with 25 days left to go. This means the game will release on Mac and Linux as well as Windows but there’s more to the story. In an update, Fargo shares some of the “nice human moments” that appear to have been as pleasing as the vast amounts of money people have hurled at their screens. All the goodwill has inspired the creator of post-apocalyptic hell-zones to share an idea that has the potential to change how we all think about Kickstarter projects, even though I for one am still trying to work out what I think about the current state of Kickstarter projects. Brian Fargo wants to “Kick it Forward”.

Rather than paraphrasing the man’s own words I’ll let him sum up the concept himself:

Any developer that puts the “Kicking it Forward” badge on their Kickstarter project page is agreeing that they will put 5% of their finished product profits back into other Kickstarter projects. To be abundantly clear, this is only money that the developer earns as profit AFTER the project ships and AFTER they have paid their expenses. This is NOT a suggestion to invest money they received from people who invested into their project via Kickstarter.

He cites Minecraft, imagining what would happen if a success of that proportion grew from Kickstarter and pumped 5% of the gargantuan money piles back into other fledgling prospects. Business being business and the world being the world, some Kickstarter projects that reach their funding goal will inevitably fail to make a profit, but if enough money is locked into the system as developers reinvest their proceeds Kickstarter could become a self-powered game generating machine.

Like everything else related to this explosion of interest, any results from an idea like this are a long way off. Wasteland 2 isn’t going to be released anytime soon and it’ll be even longer before its financials can be picked apart and offered up for public consumption, but it really could be an evolution of the Kickstarter ethos. Could it be a further step to challenging the developer-publisher model? Fargo seems to think so.

This economic payback will continue to grow the movement way beyond the current system. I hope others will join me with this idea and make this a true shakeup.

Let’s get the power shifted around a bit!

this is all we have until some concept art comes out but who's complaining?

There’s an argument to be made that successful projects could grow successful companies which then hire promising indies and give them support and funding. Fargo’s vision is different in that the money will be pledged back into the wider community allowing indies to stay indie rather than building a stable of promising outsiders and grizzled veterans.

Like Kickstarter itself, “Kick it Forward, will be an honor system; anyone will be able to attach a badge showing that they are part of the program to their page but that doesn’t mean Fargo is going to be digging through their bins looking for proof of profit-sharing.

Despite the tendency for skepticism and fatigue to set in when something that was initially exciting starts to spread and thin itself out like an own-brand margarine there seems to be a sense of euphoria and enthusiasm from Fargo. Perhaps that’s as much a result of the frustrations of the current state of affairs and the desire for something better as anything else. Whatever the case, he’s a believer.

I genuinely believe that a fan funded approach to development combined with a new flow of investment money can change things up quite a bit here. It will be exciting to see how it all plays out.

I reckon he’s right about that.

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Adam Smith

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