Kickstarter is the pinnacle of the Indie era of Video Games

Over at the long-standing video game development website Gamasutra, Andrew Pellerano has a featured post saying Kickstarter threatens innovation and the whole video game industry. This is nonsense, and his own example, meant to be full of impact, doesn’t even hold water.

You see, in the last year or so, we’ve seen a huge change in the use of open, mass-supported technologies to support video games. Previously these tools, such as Kickstarter, were used primarily to support games by unknowns trying to make a big break.

But in 2013 a major video game franchise made a move. Capcom had long neglected the Mega Man series, even canceling major games. So in 2013, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune (known as INAFKING in the credits, in the old days when credits usually only contained pseudonyms) took his case to Kickstarter. Replacing the classic franchise’s titular Blue Bomber with a new character, Mighty No. 9 pulled in over four million dollars. Mega Man has long been one of my most favorite series, so I even backed it myself.

So this year, with Konami falling apart, a series by that company is getting the same treatment. Koji “IGA” Igarushi went to the same company developing Mighty No. 9 (Mega Man veteran team Inti Creates) to make a ‘spiritual successor’ to the Metroid-style Castlevania games that started with Symphony of the Night, which he was assistant director to, with later games eventually he took over as producer for.

And that’s where Pellerano at Gamasutra jumps in. He says Kickstarter-driven game launches, with Kickstarter being used to fund large-scale efforts that can get outside funding, threatens to keep innovators from innovating.

In particular, he claims that the historic classic Super Mario Bros. would never have been made in this climate. It only takes a few minutes’ thought to see that this theory shows a complete lack of understanding of the above story of INAFKING and IGA.

Super Mario Bros. was created by Shigeru “MIYAHON” Miyamoto ing 1984. By that time he had already directed and designed the smash success Donkey Kong, as well as Mario Bros., and additionally he designed Excitebike. So let’s say for some reason Nintendo cancelled Super Mario Bros. in this climate, but Miyamoto wanted to make it happen. So what does Miyamoto do? If you said “Talk to Inti Creates, go to Kickstarter, and launch ‘Miyahon’s Plumber Adventure’ as a ‘spiritual sequel to Mario Bros.’”, you win the prize!

I don’t see the problem. Great, proven video game designers, are being paired with great, proven video game developers, and have been entirely freed from the veto power of the large, out-of-touch publishers. This is the logical conclusion of the ‘indie’ movement. This is the pinnacle of the democratization of the industry, and we should be celebrating this.

You can now go your whole career starting off like a Nifflas or a Notch, work your way up, then become an IGA or INAFKING, creating what you love, and more importantly, what your players love. That is why people loved ‘indie’ games. People don’t spend their hard-earned money and precious free time because of some ‘underdog’ story. They do it because the games are good, and that their developers were putting genuine passion into it.

That’s what we’re getting here. That’s what we want. And folks at Gamasutra should get that. Game developers, of all people, should understand that removing the filter from creator to player gives everyone involved more freedom. The creators create, and the players get to buy what they really want.