In its bid to remain at the center of the ever-shifting videogame business, EA announced it will waive all fees for crowd-funded games for 90 days on its PC-based distribution platform Origin.
The first confirmed title to take advantage of the offer is Wasteland 2, the sequel to the beloved PC roleplaying game from 1988. The title is being worked on by Brian Fargo one of the designers from the original game. In 2007, Fargo revealed he wanted to make a sequel to Wasteland but after years of being unable to excite publishers, Fargo took his idea straight to fans on Kickstarter. Fargo and his company, inExile more than tripled their requested budget, raising $2.9 million from more than 61,000 backers.
Kickstarter has been the funding hub for a number of notable games in the last few months, most famously with Tim Schaffer’s new Double Fine Adventure, as well as Kojima Productions veteran Ryan Payton’s Republique. The website has also had a dramatic impact on the film industry in the last year, with close to 10% of the entries in this year’s Sundance Film Festival coming from Kickstarter. It’s also hosted its own fundraising promotion to start a Kickstarter Film Festival in coordination with Rooftop Films in New York.
The offer to waive fees for a limited time is an interesting offer from EA, and it’s a reminder of how increasingly conservative game publishers have become with low and mid-range projects. EA might not believe in your game enough to fund it, but once you’ve invested your own time, energy, and effort to building something fans are willing to finance, they’ll be happy to host your game for a fee.
If Kickstarter is the future of funding than the only real position left for publishers like EA is as distributors who handle billing and hosting duties in exchange for a small cut of sales.