Video Game Tries Tiered Crowdfunding Model

from the becoming-popular dept

These days, doing "crowdfunding" of music has become so commonplace that it's hardly worth mentioning any more, but it's still a bit new in other content realms. Reader Pat points us to the news that a new video game, Grim Dawn, is trying to fund itself with this kind of model. The game is a "spiritual successor" to Titan Quest, and has three tiers of support from $20 to $48. Basically, the more you pay, the earlier access you get to the game (alpha or beta stage). I'd be curious to see how well it works, but I'm not sure it really offers that much excitement. I could see big fans of the game really wanting to get in on the alpha, but I wonder if it's enough to really fund the game.

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  • identicon
    TriZz, 26 Jan 2010 @ 3:53am

    This could be soooo much better...

    They could be so much more creative with the tiers. Like that drummer that invited people who had spend X amount could party with him and his famous friends...

    They could offer the following:

    .oO Your name in the ending credits of the game
    .oO The opportunity to go to the offices and spend a day with the developers while they develop your favorite video game
    .oO An autographed copy of the game by all the people who developed it
    .oO An invitation to the release party

    Have fun with it, it's a video game...your gamer audience is a fun loving bunch who get really excited about geeky sorta things like "hanging out with the devs while they code the game".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ethorad (profile), 26 Jan 2010 @ 4:22am

      Re: This could be soooo much better...

      I'm willing to bet that the opportunity to be in the game would go down well. People would love to get anything from bit parts to minor speaking roles modelled on them - although this does depend on there being humanlike characters in the game ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew, 26 Jan 2010 @ 5:19am

    There's a certain prestige to getting an Alpha or Beta release of software. On the other hand, will those people be expected to participate in the Alpha and Beta tests? I know that gamers are usually excited to be involved during Alpha or Beta but couldn't this be interpreted as people paying more for the privilege of helping the developers make the final product?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Chargone (profile), 26 Jan 2010 @ 3:24pm


      From what I've seen, if you tell them that up front but spin it as exclusive and special, they'll eat it up.

      On the other hand, if you Don't tell them, release the game, then it turns out to have issues enough that it may as well be beta still, they'll bitch endlessly.

      It's all about perception and honesty, so far as i can tell.

      That said, Alpha? seriously? The reason that's a big deal is because, usually, it means they acknowledge a specific fan as being also awesome at other things. (coding? testing? i dunno. it's usually the mod makers who get that sort of opportunity, regardless) 'you gave us money' is somewhat less awesome.

      TriZz is right though. they could be a Lot more creative with this. (though 'spend a day with the devs while they make the game' mostly sounds like a way to either bore someone or delay the game by 1/2-2 days, depending on orginisation)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 26 Jan 2010 @ 5:50am


    the more you pay, the earlier access you get to the game (alpha or beta stage).

    It's brilliant - you get people to pay to do work (alpha and beta testing) that - on a normal model - you would have to pay someone to do!

    Of course there is a quid pro quo here. A "paid for" tester won't be allowed to "just play the game" - he will be given a schedule to follow so that his time is used efficiently - exploring the whole game. He will be given "cheats" to enable him to test the parts of the game that are difficult to reach in normal play - so he won't get a proper game playing experience.

    The "paying" tester can do what he likes so you need many more to get good coverage - and crucially - this will take longer. On the other hand you will get more feedback on the overall experience than is possible with paid testers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Racer X, 26 Jan 2010 @ 6:06am


    It depends on how they do it. A special ingame title, bonus item, mount, etc. that ONLY they get goes a LONG way. It's in-game "status" that no one else can get.

    If they did it right, they make a ton of money upfront IF... and it's a BIG IF - they generate some "pop" for the game before alpha.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phillip (profile), 26 Jan 2010 @ 6:42am

    Achron ( is doing something similar.
    If you were one of the 1st 500 to pre-order you got it for $20.00 The next set of pre-orders is $29.95
    Everyone gets access to all the builds and the final game when it comes out.

    Played the 1st alpha so far and it was pretty good a little simple but I could definitely see a lot of potential for a good RTS there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    :), 26 Jan 2010 @ 7:10am

    I can see now!

    He could have made tiers so people get their faces scanned and put on the game for eternity maybe $10.000.

    Or better yet, everyone who wants a custom face added could pay him $10.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whisk33, 26 Jan 2010 @ 7:48am

    Titan Quest Saga

    The devs from Titan Quest did a really good job on connecting with the fans via their forums. I used to be a heavy participator on the forums and in the games. I used to feel like I knew them to a degree, from those forums.
    There were a bunch of issues with the original game but it was a game I strongly recommend (and the expansion).

    I am definitely going to be looking in to it now. The CtW with them was great before. Now they just need a RtB. Might be a good experiment for you guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Charlie Cleveland, 26 Jan 2010 @ 10:21am

    Natural Selection 2 is similar

    New TD reader here. We're doing something similar with our game and it's worked out really well. The reason? Our first game was free and people have been playing it for 7+ years. Gamasutra wrote up a summary on our preorder numbers: Our RtB is early access to our tools, artwork and alpha. The alpha isn't ready yet but our SketchUp-style level editor and environment art is, so you can get an idea of what the game will look like and start building your own maps. We also have two tiers of support and an astonishing > 90% of our pre-orders have been the more expensive version. We also did a pre-order bundling deal a couple weeks ago where we teamed up with fellow indie Wolfire Games and we managed to get a lot of press and good revenue out of it. The sales details are here: I would highly recommend to other indie developers to think about ways they can release bits of their game early to get buzz and possible revenue!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    IshmaelDS (profile), 26 Jan 2010 @ 10:23am

    You get more than just Alpha and Beta

    You do get (as suggested above by a couple people) an ingame item as well as in the credits of the game. Not saying they couldn't have done more, like some people above suggested being there while they were making it, getting put in the game etc would all be very cool. Just thought I would point out that you do get more than just early access

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nathan Beckord, 26 Jan 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Other self-funding methods you guys have seen?

    This is really interesting. I've been studying up on the 'crowd funding' space recently and see it as a really exciting alternative to trying to raise outside $$ to fund games (and other media properties, for that matter).

    Other than pre-selling the games directly, are there any platforms or3rd parties you guys have used or seen to finance advance development?

    Charlie (Gamasutra)-- I read your article too, very cool. What do you think was the biggest "hook" (other than "eternal gratitude")-- was it mostly early access, or something else? I find it fascinating to understand what motivates people...whether it's being able to play sooner / better (i.e. motivated by the game itself) or whether it's prestige and credit (i.e. motivated by status within peer group).

    Also, any challenges, problems, unhappy backers, etc?

    thanks guys, Nathan

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alex, 19 Apr 2010 @ 8:59pm

    It is crowd-contributed, not crowd-funded

    The shacknews article never mentioned about crowd-funded. This is kind of misleading.

    Try reading this escapist articles before doing this. ributed-Game-Development-A-Grim-Dawn-Breaks

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Price Per Head Sportsbook, 31 Jul 2010 @ 3:36am

    Titan Quest

    I played TQ, if this resembles the original in any way, I'll definitely give it a try

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    eunice zahn, 29 Sep 2010 @ 8:21am

    Like it

    This is a cool concept. I like the idea that it gets fans and enthusiasts involved at the alpha and beta stage. video game testing in this way can be a lot of fun, and makes the core group of supporters much more dedicated than other methods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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