Crowdfundvania: Castlevania Chap Igarashi’s Bloodstained

A new RPG from former Planescape: Torment folks, a new adventure game from Tim Schafer, a new Mega Man from the Mega Man man: some game pitches sound such sure-fire hits and strike such nostalgic nerves that they effortlessly breeze past crowdfunding goals. To that list you can now add a new Castlevania from a big Castlevania name.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night [Kickstarter] is an attempt to make a new explore-o-punch-a-platformer in the Castlevania style, lead by Koji Igarashi. You know, him who co-directed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You know, that one with the line about a man being a miserable little pile of secrets. Ooh!

“Publishers of the world told me that gamers no longer care for this style of game,” Igarashi said in the pitch video, sat in a high-backed chair in a spooky mansion, then paused to drain his glass. He tosses his glass to the floor, “But I know they are wrong!” He really does this. It is great.

However, that doesn’t mean Bloodstained is funded purely by fans. In fact, a large reason for the Kickstarter is to prove to partners that there’s interest. As he told Gamasutra, “All I can say right now is that after over a year of talking with just about every publisher out there, I was able to secure funding for about 90 percent of the game with the condition that I prove the market still wants an Igavania game.” It feels a bit gross to ask fans for money to win over investors – who might make a profit from backing it, not like you – but here we are.

Anyway, about the game. It sounds like… you know, Castlevania. You explore a sprawling spooky castle as a young alchemist, killing demons, collecting weapons, levelling, gaining abilities, crafting, and all that. It’ll have cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes too. Igarashi most famously co-directed Symphony of the Night – the game which reinvented the series – but he occasionally wrote on the series too and produced it for years, up until 2010’s Castlevania: Harmony of Despair.

The Kickstarter was seeking $500,000 (£320k) and yep, that’s done. With 32 days still to go, it’s around $1.2 million and has hit the first set of stretch goals, which included a second playable character, a ‘Nightmare’ difficulty mode, and hiring David Hayter, the former voice of Solid Snake. The game’s coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux. Pledging at least $28 (£18-ish) would get you a copy of the game when it’s finished, which is currently slated for March 2017.

As ever, of course, crowdfunding is a risk. But you know that, don’t you?

33 Comments

  1. Steven Hutton says:

    It’s pretty rare for someone to sell me a game with a single screen shot. So well done this Kickstarter.

  2. Ejia says:

    “New Mega Man from the Mega Man man”. Catchy!

    In any case, it’s great that there are new Mega Man/Castlevania/Metroid games even if they’re not actually Mega Man/Castlevania/Metroid games in name.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    Moetroidvania?

  4. int says:

    When I read Castlevania I think about a narcissistic castle that can’t stop staring into its own moat.

  5. jrodman says:

    Unfortunately the “we need to kickstart this so that the publishers can own it anyway” pitch doesn’t work for me. If they succeed, I might buy it on its finished merits, but I’m not going out on a limb for that scenario.

    • Eleven says:

      These guys want to sell their game on the consoles too, with physical disks sitting on shelves in a shop. For that, you need a publisher with all the logistics, manufacturing and marketing to make it happen. Publishers are essential and unavoidable for how they want to present their game.

      Publishers tend to be cautious about what they invest in, they lose face with retail if they distribute a game that sits on shelves. They want shure-fire hits, the next GTA or COD, and 2.5D platformers are about as far from that as you can possibly get. Not only that, but the last Castlevania publisher, Konami, isn’t the picture of health right now, which only makes things look worse.

      So here they are. Their claim that they need to convince the publishers is entirely plausible. It’s true they probably don’t need the money, but tens of thousands of fans all being willing to put their money where their mouth is, and all the grass-roots hype and buzz a big kickstarter generates, can be pretty persuasive to a sales exec.

      • jrodman says:

        reposting this where intended.

        I’m not saying they’re liars. I’m saying that this is not a compelling offer.

        Them: “Hey individuals, want to take on waay more risk than the publisher so that we can still have a publisher telling us what to do, and have them take all the profit?”

        Me: “Nope.”

        Secondarily, you’re presenting a false dichotomy. Just because they want to reach consoles doesn’t mean that they have to get their funding to create the game from a publisher. it’s an entirely viable model, although much rarer, to create the game indpenedently and when it’s pretty much done find someone willing to sell it.

        • Eleven says:

          I didn’t think I framed my comment in terms of a dichotomy, and if it came across that way then I apologise. Out of interest, what false equivalence did I suggest?

          This game is going to be almost entirely funded by some combination of banks and investors, which may or may not include a traditional games publisher. The money they raise through the Kickstarter is useful early funding and a great expression of interest from the audience, but will be a small fraction of the money required to produce the game.

          All of the independent game makers use publishers as distributers, even if the publisher had nothing to do with funding the game, because publishers own the distribution channels. Even when they have no initial investment in the game, the publishers still take a hit if they product they’re distributing doesn’t shift units. They don’t want to end up with warehouses full of stock they can’t sell, hence the need to convince them the game is viable.

          Yes, I’m saying that the people backing the kickstarter are taking a risk that the publishers wouldn’t. That is my entire argument, that the kickstarter is re-risking the game in the eyes of the publisher’s sales bods. I’m not sure if the risk is worthwhile, but it certainly looks like a fun game!

          • jrodman says:

            The implied false dichotomy was:

            Either they can get independently funded and make the game on their own
            OR
            They can get funded primarily from a publisher and target consoles.

            But not get independently funded, make the game on their own, AND target consoles via a publisher.

            At least, that’s how your response read in context to me.

            As for the gauging interest, if it’s just a question of polling the potential market for “would you buy a game like this”, then maybe i’m in for 5 cents. I’m certainly not going in for ~30 bucks, or 300 like I have for titles I really want to help make happen if the lion’s share of the money and profits are coming from a studio too timid to support great games but yet who will exercise unfortunate creative guidance. Basically at that point I’m funding the type of publishing I wish would die out.

        • Tacroy says:

          Honestly, the whole concept of Kickstarter is super duper American and it doesn’t surprise me at all that someone who’s a veteran of the Japanese video games industry would prefer to use Kickstarter as a springboard to a publisher deal rather than using it to fund the game itself.

    • Emeraude says:

      Totally agreed. Add no DRM-free and Steam only on the PC, and might as well let that undisclosed funding source take the risk.

      If anything, now that they’ve proven the demand for the game, shouldn’t all the backers take their pledge back to 0 ?

      • pepperfez says:

        The lack of DRM-free options kinda killed my enthusiasm. I guess “Join in on this exciting new undertaking!” isn’t really compatible with “We think you might be a criminal” for me.

  6. Tiger Teeth says:

    Well that’s by far the best pitch video ever conceived by god or man.

    I’m in.

  7. BTAxis says:

    The 1M stretch goal is “cheat codes”, which is $150K up from the previous stretch goal.

    I mean, really?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Costing a project is a wild science at best, before you start making promises to expand the project beyond what you original did your costing for. More money is always welcome though, so you don’t want to disincentivise potential backers by ruling out stretch goals. Obviously they aren’t going to spend $150k implementing cheat codes. I guess the question is, will they spend the difference improving the game in other ways, or will it go into the marketing budget? Probably a little from column A, a little from column B. Either way I still think it’s more responsible than vastly expanding the scope of a project through the stretch goals. Moving the stretch goalposts, if you will.

      • jrodman says:

        I’m not saying they’re liars. I’m saying that this is not a compelling offer.

        Them: “Hey individuals, want to take on waay more risk than the publisher so that we can still have a publisher telling us what to do, and have them take all the profit?”

        Me: “Nope.”

        Secondarily, you’re presenting a false dichotomy. Just because they want to reach consoles doesn’t mean that they have to get their funding to create the game from a publisher. it’s an entirely viable model, although much rarer, to create the game indpenedently and when it’s pretty much done find someone willing to sell it.

        • jrodman says:

          FIrst: oops, this message wasn’t supposed to go here.

          Second: I agree with everything BooleanBob said, stretch goals shouldn’t be accurate cost forecasts, but little shiny targets to encourage us to give the project a financial cushion. I want projects to become more secure as kickstarters become more successful, not less secure because of piling on the variables.

          Third: I now realize why i made this error. Because (like most sites), RPS doesn’t provide sizes in the img tags, the loading of the images makes the page pop around vertically, it’s entirely possible to have the reply tag move out from under your mouse right before you click it. I know this because it happened to me when I went to add this reply, but I noticed it just in time.

  8. Commander Gun says:

    I guess i just pick it up in the steam sale when it is in open beta, just like i did with Grim Dawn :)

  9. NailBombed says:

    Being a longtime Castlevania aficionado I can’t not get behind this. The IGA CV games were my faves, even Portrait Of Ruin, so a new game in that vein (pun intended) is thoroughly welcome. Too bad that there won’t be a hint of whipping…

  10. Cantisque says:

    I learnt my lesson about buying games based on mockup screenshots from Mighty No 9.

    I’ll bet this game will be a muddy 3D sidescroller as well, no thanks.

    Make it 2D with nice animations and I’d buy it. Maybe they should have waited until they had something more to show?

  11. Tacroy says:

    Is it just me, or are good video game Kickstarters coming back? It feels like after Torment (roughly) the really exciting video game Kickstarters dried up, but then recently there’s been a whole bunch of good ones coming out.

  12. Quiffle says:

    Article screenshot damn near made me cream myself. For those looking for a great Metroidvania type game in the meantime, I highly recommend Valdis Story. I think there’s a discount going for it on Steam.

  13. Bugamn says:

    I was tempted, but $28 for the game and nothing else in a Kickstarter is too high for my tastes.

  14. orochi_kyo says:

    Wanna play something like this while this comes out (in a few years). Valdis Story. IMO its the best metroidvania on Steam.

  15. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    I would be skeptical if I haven’t been thoroughly entertained and impressed with each one of IGA’s games that I’ve played. I will confidently support this.

  16. iMad says:

    Shut up and take my money!