While crowd sourced funding for games has been around on the indie scene for a couple of years now, becoming a progressively more appealing way for small development teams to bring their games to market as can be highlighted by Six to Starts recent Kickstarter project, it has never really taken off as a viable option for AAA game developers.
However, according to gamesindustry.biz it seems that the aptly named Slightly Mad Studios, responsible for the Need for Speed: Shift series, is prepared to give it a shot with their World of Mass Development (WMD) project, a “crowdfunded” model aimed specifically at games developers. Looking at this from an innovation and technology standpoint this new approach to large scale game funding could fall under what is identified as a “disruptive” technology in Managing Media Work (Mierzejewska, 2011, p. 19). The technology that allows the general public to initially crowd fund the development of a AAA racing game called provisionally named C.A.R.S. could, if successful, radically alter the current publisher led development model as we know it.
The nature of the games industry and the way in which new games with improved graphics, new mechanics and in some cases novel interfaces (Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect, PlayStation Move) need to generate consumer interest, in combination with this new funding model, could indicate in part their use of “new product development theory” in combination with “diffusion theory”(Mierzejewska, 2011, p. 20). New product development theory sees new technologies and innovations as a “strategic weapon”, as innovation has been linked to financial performance while diffusion theory focuses on the adoption of these innovations, Slightly Mad Studios riding the wave from these small scale uses of crowd funding could be hoping to be the impetus for change in the way large scale developments are funded and to cash in along the way by offering their service to other developers.
Details of the scheme are thin on the ground at present though Slightly Mad Studios will take a 30% cut off the top of any profits made from the estimated 2 year and $5 million development of C.A.R.S.; with the smallest $10 initial investment returning an estimated $35 should they hit their projected sales figures.
Mierzejewska, B. I. (2011). Media Management in Theory and Practice. In M. Deuze, Managing Media Work (pp. 13-30). Thousand Oaks, California, United States of America: SAGE Publications Inc.
Slightly Mad Studios. (n.d.). Jobs. Retrieved September 26, 2011, from Slightly Mad Studios: http://www.slightlymadstudios.com/jobs/
– Craig Harkness
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