I’m not sure if I subscribe to the idea of ‘Kickstarter Fatigue’ being a thing, but it’s hard to deny the increasing difficulty faced by games finding their footing via crowdfunding lately. Iron Harvest, an ambitious RTS using the 1920+ setting (as seen in board game Scythe, based on the art of Jakub Różalski) has been a grand exception. It hit its initial Kickstarter funding goal within 36 hours, and just cleared its final $1.5m stretch goal in the last moments of its month-long funding drive.
Developed by King Art, a studio with an interesting history (I consider the Battle Isle tribute Battle Worlds: Kronos to be their best), Iron Harvest promises a return to the style of the original Company of Heroes which held people’s attention for years. Lightweight base-building, cover-heavy infantry tactics and – in the case of Iron Harvest – mechs with their own complex underpinning damage mechanics. Progress on the game was ready looking solid when the studio first started crowdfunding, as you can see in the quite polished gameplay footage below.
King Art have had good success funding development through Kickstarter. Battle Worlds in particular took far less time than most expected once the studio had the funds to match their vision, but Iron Harvest is their most ambitious project yet by far. $450,000 was what they required to continue production on the base game. They quickly enough filled requirements for significantly expanding the single-player side of Iron Harvest, including a second New Game Plus loop through each mission, challenge maps and a skirmish mode. All in all, a beefy set of features for a mostly-solo player such as myself.
It took a little while longer, but it wasn’t too surprising when they cleared the $1,000,000 requirement for multiplayer – after all, Company of Heroes 1 & 2 retain a large and active player-base – with co-op campaigns and challenges following not long after, and integrated leagues and seasons getting the green light after they raised $1.2 million. The final hurdle was at $1.5m, which they only passed within the final few hours of the Kickstarter (thanks largely to direct sales on their own site) and was to develop an additional chunk of free prologue DLC.
Now all there’s left to do is wait. Some streamers have already been given access to a very, very early build of the game featuring a basic endurance/survival scenario, but the first Kickstarter backer builds of Iron Harvest will be going out later this summer. Considering the sheer volume of features promised (including the impressively difficult task of balancing a competitive RTS), it’s not too surprising that the studio are aiming for a December 2019 release date. With any luck, we’ll be able to get our hands on some playable code before then.