There is a runaway freight train in the world of crowdfunded MMOs already this year, and it’s only May. While not in the same sort of stratosphere as games such as Star Citizen or Shroud of the Avatar, the new MMO Ashes of Creation from Intrepid Studios put up a Kickstarter seeking $750K to add to their current financials. With 19 days left in their campaign, they’ve already crushed $1.8M in funding and seem on course for cracking the $2M mark with ease.
So, what’s the secret sauce here? Why are players turning up for this project? There’s some serious pie in the sky going on here, with stretch goals listing whole new races, underwater realms, and other such resource-intensive additions to the base game.
Let’s take a look where the game came from. Intrepid Studios is happy to cite the past projects their devs have worked on, showing a deep foundation from former SOE/Daybreak folks. Those of us who were involved in the EverQuest Next community are definitely feeling the same sort of vibe, since it’s a lot of the same people and quite frankly, some of the same base concepts that EQN was going to have in order to be that next-gen MMO. There are some other notions coming into the concept that we see in other games such as ArcheAge, but Ashes of Creation is definitely taking most of its basic pages from the EQN playbook.
This can be both a good and a bad thing. The bad side of it, of course, is how EQN crashed and burned due to issues within SOE/Daybreak, so there is still plenty of skepticism from gamers who don’t really feel like getting burned again anytime soon. The good side is the fact that players still want that sort of next-gen experience, and they want it bad enough to give it a chance. There’s also the fact that certain personalities within SOE that had a hand in EQN‘s demise are quite visibly not involved in this project.
One of the things the Intrepid team has to spend some time doing is assuring the public that they’re not their predecessors, and that they actually have a plan and reasonably firm timetable to execute on their ideas. Naturally, like the runaway freight train analogy, it’s all too easy to allow for feature creep. Still, one has to wonder how fully-fledged the base game is. After all, by their own disclaimer, the Kickstarter is just for extra cash for bells and whistles, they apparently already had investor funding for creating and releasing the game. Strip away the KS goodies, and what is left? Is that a fully-realized game as they say, or would it be lacking in some fashion?
You also have to consider development time. The delivery date for the pledges is December 2018, so that’s a year and half to bake. Compare that to other successful crowdfunded games such as Crowfall, which did its Kickstarter two years ago and was due to release in December 2016, but is still in some form of early access/pre-release development. There’s also Star Citizen, which has been getting repeatedly delayed since its initial release date in 2014 and is winning vaporware awards. This is a substantial public relations hurdle to overcome.
The Intrepid Studios team has been front-loading the hype train of late with thrice-weekly dev livestreams to show off new features and to promote the game. It makes sense to hype things up now while the Kickstarter is live, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it to see whether they step back and go heads-down to focus on getting the promised features out the door in the timeframe they announced, or whether they keep community engagement at a similar high. We here at MMO Central will certainly be watching this game to see if they can hold to their statements that they already had a plan to account for stretch goals being added to their dev cycle.
What’s your take on it?