As a project met with cynicism from the start and denied the early rush of cash that characterise most big-name Kickstarters, things never looked terribly rosy for the Oliver twins' £350,000 Dizzy Returns Kickstarter. With eight days left to go and just £24,000 pledged towards this yolk folk sequel, the veteran British devs have acknowledged that we very probably shouldn't call this a comeback.
"Dizzy Returns in all likelihood won't meet its funding target," they stated in an update entitled 'Facing The Inevitable' earlier today. "In order to meet [our goal] we’d need over £40,000 pledged every day, and realistically that’s not going to happen."
Commiserations, chaps. So, what went wrong? And what is going to happen to the egg-man now?
In the short term at least, probably nothing. The particular design they had in mind won't happen if the Kickstarter does indeed fail. "We may revisit the possibility of another Dizzy game at a later date, but the vision of that game would need to be considerably different."
They reckon there's no shame in this plan not panning out, and feel they have gauged that there is interest in a new Dizzy game even if it's not as high as they'd hoped. I must say, I won't be surprised if this proves to be the last we hear of Dizzy, but perhaps even more of an absence will make cold hearts grow that much fonder.
The big question is what went wrong? From my point of view they were asking for far too much for a game/character that hasn't retained as much resonance as some perhaps felt/hoped. I appreciate their development costs were legitimately the development costs of a sizeable studio with many employees, but, I think, with Kickstarter potential backers tend to weigh the asking price against what's being offered rather than against true facts of dev costs (which the majority of backers can't possibly know much about). In this case, what was being offered was a remake of/sequel to an old 2D puzzle game that hasn't aged well, rather than something wildly ambitious. It was a lot to ask for what seemed like a known quantity (even if, potentially, it was not).
The Olivers feel something else was the main cause of this likely fizzle, however.
"When we started the Dizzy Returns campaign we were in the pre-development stage, concepting characters, locations and game mechanics. Many of you have asked to see a demo or some gameplay footage – unfortunately that doesn't exist yet, because of the simple fact that we haven’t begun actually making the game."
"The majority of video game Kickstarter projects have been in production for some time, with some having been literally years in the making, and of course this wasn't the case with Dizzy Returns. As we have learnt all too well, starting the campaign this early in pre-development has made it much harder to communicate our vision of Dizzy Returns, and there’s no denying that we should and could have done this better."
I can't disagree, and we've seen similar issues with the Elite and Project GODUS Kickstarters too. Partly, I think, it's that we want to see proof positive of what it is we're paying for on spec, and partly perhaps there's a concern in some quarters our affections are being gamed - that these Kickstarters hastily came about because someone sniffed an opportunity rather than because they were planned-out passion projects. Who knows the truth of it, and who knows what will happen with Elite or GODUS yet, but hard lessons are being taught to a lot of developers right now.
I do feel incredibly sorry for the Olivers even if I can't help but feel the Dizzy Returns Kickstarter was seriously misjudged. It must be horrible enough to have development canned in private, let alone in the full, cruel gaze of the public eye. I sincerely hope they've not been hit too hard by this and can easily move on to new, exciting things.