Shadowrun Returns is returning to Kickstarter. Later this month, developers Hare-Brained Schemes will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise dosh for their proposed Hong Kong setting. The artwork above is the only detail released so far. but the inclusion of neon lighting, streetfood, rain and a brolly is enough to convince me that this is Legit Cyberpunk. My interest in Shadowrun has peaked, following a Turkeymas break spent in the company of the excellent Dragonfall expansion, which is an absolutely smashing RPG campaign, packed with interesting characters, choices and missions. More of that, please.
If I'd seen this news back when the post first went live, I would have greeted it with a shrug but that's because I hadn't played Dragonfall until last week. Now that I have played Dragonfall, I greeted the news by high-fiving my monitor.
"I'd love to go to Hong Kong with a computer plugged into my noggin, but why would anyone expect me to fund the trip with my own cyber-spondooliks?"
I hear you, Joe "Comments On" Blogs. Hare-Brained will no doubt explain their decision to return to the crowdfunding well when the campaign launches but the answer is probably quite simple - crowdfunding worked the first time so why not take the same route again? I've seen plenty of comments suggesting that a second crowdfunding campaign is evidence that Shadowrun Returns wasn't profitable, which seems to ignore the possibility of anyone at Hare-Brained actually wanting to keep some of the profits to spend on food, rent and coffee rather than immediately ploughing them into a new game.
After leading the way on one of the most successful crowdfunded projects to date, Larian chief Swen Vincke wrote about the possible advantages of returning to Kickstarter for whatever comes after Divinity: Original Sin. The response from the community is interesting - on the whole, people who enjoy a game as much as people enjoyed Original Sin seem quite happy to be involved with a studio's next title, both through financial backing and feedback.
When Kickstarter took off, as a way to fund games, I suspected that a lot of studios would use any crowdfunded success to leverage a good deal with a major publisher. I'd much rather see companies like Hair-Brained and Larian find a way to sustain themselves while self-publishing, and if that means an injection of cash is needed during the development of new titles, so be it.