Kickstarted By An Angel

Using Kickstarter presents one big problem.

If you don’t fully reach your funding goal, then you get nothing. Doesn’t matter if you are half a million short or just one dollar.

So as the Pantheon Kickstarter campaign is about to head into their final week, they are staring down the barrel at a shortfall of over $400,000. As Wilhelm at TAGN points out it is not impossible to reach the final goal, they just need some extraordinary help to get the >$45,000 a day to do so.

Personally, I think the optimism has been strong with this one for quite some time. Even in the last few days, Visionary Realms have been announcing details of their stretch goals (at 2.5 million) which given the likelihood that the campaign would fail even at the half way mark, shows a certain amount of unbridled optimism. Good for them.

With the Kickstarter campaign facing almost certain doom, I was wondering what Brad and the team would be doing next. The Tweety knows all:


 I kinda figured that the project would continue whether the Kickstarter was achieved. We’ve been seeing a bunch of imagery and details coming out of the team for a while now, indicating that there was already substantial time and effort put in.

The above tweets and others like it indicate that Visionary Realms intends to continue fundraising, but now on their own website. I guess they could use a services like IndieGoGo, the big drawcard here being that you keep all the donations whether you reach your goal or not, and if you don’t reach your goal you pay lower fees too!

There’s also the prospect of Angel funding. That’s where an Angel investor steps in at the last moment to ‘save’ your business. But the big difference between this and crowd-funding through Kickstarter or Indiegogo is that the Angel is an investor. They now own some of the business. And they are not going to put up with any of the management crap that went on at Sigil/Vanguard. They’re going to want a solid business plan before one cent is invested.

This leaves Brad and Co with a few options.

  1. Continue to develop Pantheon with their own money and with anything they can scrape up via crowd funding on their own site.
  2. Reach out to the investment community for Angel funding, but this will require Visionary Realms to run as a >competent business with a management team; not just a bunch of developers.
  3. Try another Kickstarter, but with a smaller goal. (They could in fact run several Kickstarter campaigns over the course of the development, starting with a small one to get the basics, and a new KS for each current stretch goal.)
  4. Chuck it all in. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’ve been dealing with business owners for a while now, and one thing that keeps coming up is to know when your business isn’t working and when it’s time to throw in the towel. As Kenny Rogers says, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em…”

I think this all ties in with what I said the other day too, about Kickstarter being a place to do market research, to see if your game idea has enough merit to live. Are 2860 backers enough of a market for your game to not only survive, but thrive?

Of course it’s not that simple, especially in this case. I suggested in that post that perhaps the whole old school ideas being put forward in Pantheon aren’t as desired by the gaming community as most think. But there are also other considerations here too. The previous failure of Sigil management comes strongly to mind, and I suspect there are a lot who haven’t forgiven or forgotten that, and some who are just wary of Brad.

And I think, given the recent actions by SOE in shutting down a number of their games, including Vanguard, means that they won’t be coming to the rescue if it all goes pear shaped again. Vanguard was lucky, getting years more life than it would have had SOE not bought it out. I suspect that instead of ex-Vanguard players heading over to Pantheon en-masse after the announcement, it’s had the opposite effect, showing SOE might not be the white knight to rescue a game in trouble, the next time.

I do hope the Visionary Realms guys pull this off. I’ve long said that the world needs more MMORPGs, especially those that are out-of-the-box. But unless they find an Angel with fairly deep pockets, I can’t really see this one make it to release.

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