As if you need me to tell you: it’s safe to say that we’re officially in the midst of the Kickstarter craze. The tip of the iceberg came with Tim Schafer and Double Fine’s wildly successful adventure game project and it’s $3.3 Million raise. From there, the floodgates were open. Whether it was prominent industry members, independent developers, or first-time creators, people took to the internet hoping to join the gold rush, all driven by same unshakeable belief: Gamers wanted to fund games online.
And over the last couple of months, many have been proven right. Al Lowe with a reboot of Leisure Suite Larry. $655,000. Brian Fargo with a long-awaited Wasteland sequel. $2.9 Million. The list goes on. Then Republique happened. Built by Ryan Payton – former game director for Halo 4 – and his new studio Camouflaj, the concept was extremely ambitious: a AAA reimagining of the stealth genre set in a dystopian world filled with high profile voice acting, a real sense of choice, and palpable horror. The catch? It would play on your iPhone or iPad.
Thus began a much longer road for Payton and Co. than perhaps any of them expected. On one hand, the project was buoyed by big names, an exciting premise, and a rash of successful projects just like it. On the other, there hadn’t really been any projects quite like this before. Something for a platform popular among mostly “non-gamers,” promising to deliver something core fans of bombastic AAA fare. In that sense, Payton had pitched something catastrophic: something no one was asking for.
And lo’ and behold, it showed. Despite some early momentum pushing totals into the mid-200,000 dollar range, Republique staggered along at an discouraging pace, seemingly out of touch with any audience it plied, and perhaps the first victim of the internet public’s Kickstarter fatigue? Or perhaps not.
Over the course of the next month, Republique would become the poster-child for the time-tested concept that slow and steady wins the race. Through a series of follow-up announcements – first a migration to PC and Mac, and most recently the confirmation of David “Solid Snake” Hayter and Jennifer “Every Female Videogame Voice Ever” Hale – Payton kept hope alive. Literally, as the case may be, when the project’s last couple weeks were rebranded to spread the #keephopealive hashtag around the Twitterverse. In pockets, and over the last couple of days, in encouraging surges, the project made its way towards – and then past – the $400,000 mark.
And so it was that today, with seven hours left to go until the project was denied funding, Republique hit its mark. As of the time of this writing, there are 118 minutes to go, and $539,000 donated to the game’s creation, with another $500,000 promised from investors due to the campaign’s success. Now the question remains: what will a $1M iOS game look like? 11,107 people were certainly willing to find out.