When we talk about new game releases, it can be easy to get caught up in the spectacle of AAA releases. The games from big developers with big budgets, massive teams and seemingly unlimited resources at their disposal. These titles tend to offer a mind boggling array of content across sprawling maps. Not only that, but most companies can do it on an annual basis if they choose to. Hell, it’s been EA’s business model from since I can remember.
So with the bountiful offerings of the elite brands, it’s all too easy to forget the little guy. As we know, indie developers are the grassroots of gaming development. Without indie titles, the talented developers never get their big breaks with bigger projects and big budgets. Of course, we have seen games that have been smash hits pieced together beautifully on a shoe string budget. Although for those who need a little bit of assistance to get their games off the ground. Where does the cash come from?
Fans With Deep Pockets
Yeah sure, you can get a bank loan if you want to go down that path. Though what many start-up projects have done is crowdfunded their games. This is a process where a project of interest is placed on a page where fans and potential consumers can fund the game’s development budget. This usually works best with IP’s that are already established or titles that have received some sort of viral traction. One example being Ty the Tasmanian tiger HD which is set for release in march this year. Crowdfunding can take various forms with the most notable platforms being Kickstarter or Indiegogo to name a few.
Obviously, these efforts are not always a success and are not without their controversies. With games being inundated with donations, only to not release their project to the public. Prime examples being Peter Molenyeux’s brain child, Godus or Robert’s Space Industries’ Star citizen. However, there are several occasions where projects have been funded and through mass appeal, wished a game into existence. So without asking for any funding, we release to you our top ten crowdfunded games of all time.
Honorable mentions go to That Dragon, Cancer, We Happy Few, Yooka Laylee, Project Cars, Mighty Number 9 and Friday The 13th
10. Ultimate Chicken Horse
We begin with a game that follows the party genre winning formula. Akin to the likes of Rayman Legends and Gang Beasts. Ultimate Chicken Horse offers a unique and competitive platforming party game with seven unique and cute characters. In this title the players must get from A to B in a Mario-esque fashion. All the while avoiding the traps laid by their competitors. It’s simple entry level difficulty and fun pastel appearance makes it the staple of any game night. This game was crowdfunded a total of $34,155 Canadian dollars from a target of $25,000.
9. Prison Architect
Ever wonder what it’s like to design and maintain a prison? Well even if you haven’t, it turns out it’s a lot of fun. In this title, you take charge of a prison and have the rather nefarious job of making as much profit as you possibly can. You are in control of the layout, staff and security within the prison. You are tasked with creating the perfect Eco-system in which for hardened criminals to conduct their day to day affairs. The depth and complexity of each decision is staggering. The affect one small design change can affect other aspects and domino into a cataclysmic disaster is incredible. This game would go a different route with it’s crowdfunding by raising interest by creating an alpha prototype for players and asking for pledges. The crowdfunding effort would go on to breach $8 million .
8. Thomas Was Alone
This minimalist title is by far the least funded title on the list, costing a mere $2452. Despite this low budget, the game would be a roaring success. This is down to it’s simple but elegantly executed appearance and gaming mechanics. This focuses around colored shapes as they navigate geometric levels. Nothing more intricate than a flash game at first. However, through clever writing and squeezing every bit of content and novelty from the game mechanics present. This title offers a unique and lasting impression on the player with minimal resources. It may have been made for pocket change compared to the rest of the entries, but sometimes, it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it.
7. FTL – Faster Than Light
Want a space opera where you care deeply for the characters akin to that of Mass Effect?Want that but cute, pixellated and procedurally generated? Sure you do! With a small budget target of $10,000, this title would garner $200,542 to craft their galactic adventure sim. FTL offers the player a chance to travel through space like a true explorer and live their Star Trek fantasies. Commanding crews, dealing with boarding alien attackers or space pirates. Whilst constantly looting the galaxy of all it’s goodies. Each randomly occurring journey offers a new story and new crews to develop unhealthy attachments to. With decisions that can make or break the entire mission around every corner. FTL is a game that delivers not one space opera but indeed, an infinity of light speed romps.
6. Octodad – Dadliest catch
Easily the most whimsical and silly entry on the list and with a low budget of just $24,320 to work with. Octodad tasks you with maintaining the life of a wily octopus masquerading as a husband and father of two. Throughout this attempt to live a normal suburban life, many stumbling blocks will be comically sprinkled. An angry chef antagonist will try and foil your disguise, hilariously obnoxious controls will make routine tasks seem impossible and all the while you must maintain a level of decorum as to not rouse suspicion. Easy right? If Surgeon simulator, Table manners or similar games with messy control schemes are your bag. This crowdfunded octopus adventure is not to be missed.
5. Hyper Life Drifter
Hyper light Drifter would set it’s budget target low, only to be inundated with donations totaling to $645,158. Free from the shackles of budget restraints, developers Heart Machine would go on to create a unique, atmospheric and brutally fast paced and punishing title. The game offers high octane combat and a narrative that remains enigmatic throughout. The player takes control of a mute warrior and must traverse the land in search of something. That something is not clear to the player at first. Yet the brilliant gameplay, soundtrack and unique art style is enough to keep you engaged. If you’re in search of a enchantingly difficult indie title with a brilliant combat system, then this is should be your number one choice.
4. Pillars Of Eternity I + II
Born from the same studio that gave you Fallout New Vegas and The outer worlds came top down retro RPG, Pillars of Eternity. The developers would ask for a grand total of $1,100,000 to get this one off the ground. Incredibly, they not only reached this crowdfunded goal but cleared it by an excess of $2,886,929. Reminiscent of Black isle studios nineties releases, this back to basics RPG takes all that was great about the nineties RPG genre and gives it a little refine and polish.
It stays true to the point and click RPG style of old and delivers the game promised to all the donating fans. It is in everything but the name, a continuation of Baldur’s Gate and is crafted with love and attention. If you’re forever fighting the original Fallout’s corner in heated debates and long for the golden days of RPG’s. Give this a shot. Also a side note that Pillars of Eternity II would also be crowdfunded and outdo it’s predecessor with a budget of $4,705,524.
With a crowdfunded total of $250,798 raised by fans, Superhot came to be. As far as redefining first person combat goes, Superhot offers a fresh take on close quarters assaults. The concept is simple. You are put in a series of situations where you must defeat all the enemies and survive. Not too unconventional there. The important twist Superhot provides is that time only moves when you do. Thanks to this implication, the game almost turns into a turn based strategy. Yet maintains a high octane and relentless pace, sometimes from a complete standstill. Also with a mix of melee, unarmed and gun combat, situations can be solved in an abundance of improvised ways. If you’re tired of the usual FPS formula and want to break free. Superhot is the breath of fresh air you need.
2. Shovel Knight
In a list that could have consisted of Mega man inspired Mighty number 9, I instead give you Mega-man inspired Shovel knight. This title from a target of $75,000 raised a total of $311,502. This retro style platformer plays homage to the NES through it’s execution of level design, art style, soundtrack and bosses. however, it creates a unique feel with it’s own personality as a franchise. Shovel knight wouldn’t seem out of place as an IP from back in the glory days of the NES. So with a refined platforming style, a shiny coat of paint, fresh animations and a genuinely fun campaign. Its hard to look past this unique indie gem.
In the top spot is a game that needed very little funding to get up and running, seeing as it was made by just one developer. This crowdfunded title would raise $51,124 from a target of just $5000. Undertale mixes self referential comedy, cliche RPG tropes, unique mechanics and profoundly touching morale decisions to create a cocktail fit for gaming royalty. Every encounter is unique and unpredictable, the sound, again completely composed by the same developer, is beautifully crafted. Every facet of this game is pieced together with care and attention and uses every resource at it’s disposal. Squeezing every last drop of enjoyment from the platform. If you want to check out our article on solo developed games including this one click here.
That’s our list of the top ten best crowdfunded games. Is there any games that you think we unfairly left out? What’s your favorite on the list? Is there any games that you helped crowdfund? Let us know in the comments. Also if you like list like this why not check out our list on our top launch titles for every top selling console. As always, thank you for reading Culture of Gaming.