I started writing this story just to point out that Natural Selection 2 is going to have a free weekend over the next few days, and that if you hadn't yet bought it then you should take a look. It's a really good indie multiplayer shooter that managed to overshadow Aliens: Colonial Marines in every possible way, and they've just updated it with loads of new content. There's new weapons, female player models, better tutorials, and more. There's a trailer for that below. But there's also a trailer for a new crowd-funding scheme as well. Unknown Worlds has released free updates for the game since it's been launched, but as the game's returns diminish they need cash to continue working on it full-time. The latest free update cost them $550,000. Their hope? That a tiered donation and reward system will recoup some of that expenditure.
UPDATE: Unknown Worlds have responded to some of my concerns. They're at PAX and recorded a video. I've embedded it below.
What they're asking for is donations in return for things like badges, soundtrack, skins, decals, and some of it is quite expensive for what you get. What I don't fully understand is why this route is preferable to going free-to-play plus transactions? The argument seems like a company cultural decision rather than a pragmatic choice. When you're selling things like taunts to players via a rewards system, you already have a system in place to deliver paid-for content to accounts. Isn't it it easier and potentially more lucrative to just start making hats?
I'm not saying they shouldn't do it this way, because who knows it might actually work and prove something about fans and communities. And I do hope that they have a community large enough to support this endeavor given how much they've done for free, but this sort of reverse Kickstarter just seems like an odd route to take when your future depends on it.
Here's UW's Hugh Jeremy responding to a few of my points. It's a bit rough and ready and was initially only meant for me, but I think there's no better way to present it than in his own voice.
And here's the trailer for the new content that should totally make you want to download the game for free. You really should try it if you've ever been on the fence. You can grab it for cheap over the weekend and that, to me is, the best way to give money to the developers.