This past Friday, Petroglyph Studios – known for being most of the former Westwood Studios guys who created Command & Conquer some twenty years ago – canceled their Kickstarter for their game Victory. Petroglyph, like so many small developers these days, has been seeking creative and financial independence through crowdsourcing and their WWII-themed RTS/MOBA Victory was their key to the kingdom, but with twenty-six days remaining, the effort was stopped.
The reason provided, and I’m giving you a snippet here, is brief:
We’ve listened carefully to what the Kickstarter community has said, and it has given us many ideas of games we could do in the future. Additionally, multiple game publishers have expressed interest in Victory, based on your support, and we hope to still bring Victory to you with their help.
Let’s look at this in two parts, then.
Victory wasn’t going to win. The Kickstarter’s numbers were sad, to say the least. With not even $30,000 committed toward their $700,000 goal, Kicktraq estimates that in the best conditions, they would have only hit $100,000 of their funding goal, which is tragic. To be frank, this comically WWII game was a hard sell, a game I couldn’t have been less interested in and early gameplay that looked severely uninteresting. Further, while I loved Westwood Studios’ output, Petroglyph’s track record has been rocky at best. Trion Worlds kicked Petroglyph off End of Nations development last year to bring the effort in-house, which says unknown quantities about the work Petroglyph was doing. Their most critically-favored game, Star Wars: Empire At War, was a mere shell of its potential. All this alone doomed the Kickstarter, but…
Publishers expressed interest? None of their explanation gives much faith in the future of Victory, given in the non-commital tone that ‘hey, this might have been an interesting idea to start, but I guess you guys told us otherwise and we’re moving on’. Their publisher line is non-commital at best and denial at worst. Should any developer seeking their independence from the watchful, critical eye of a publisher then accept a publisher’s check when honored? Notch says no, but his situation is so spectacular, he can.
Kickstarter, or crowdsourcing altogether, still has a lot of strings attached despite not having many strings attached, such as ownership, return on profits, etc. It takes a lot of guts to put your reputation on the line and try something as daring as a Kickstarter pitch when it means so much to you and your company. Unfortunately, it seems Victory is out of Petroglyph’s reach.