Shadowrun, a favorite among the RPG community since its release in 1989, is set to make a return with the sequel, Shadowrun Returns. Using Kickstarter to fund the project, the goal of raising $400,000 was reached in less than twenty-eight hours. The studio behind the revival, Harebrained Scheme, is best known for their game Crimson: Steam Pirates for iPad. The studio has held the rights to make a new Shadowrun for quite some time, but due to their licensing agreement, they have not been able to take it to publishers. Kickstarter and crowd funding, however, has given the studio the opportunity to develop the title.
An excerpt from the project’s Kickstarter page reads:
“The game we want to make is very humble by modern blockbuster game standards but it is still way beyond the ability of a small start-up to fund by itself. The restraints on the license from Microsoft made it impossible to get established publishers interested in Shadowrun and so it remained just a dream for a long time until Jordan saw the recent successes of some other veteran designers on Kickstarter.”
Jordan Weisman, the founder of Harebrained Schemes and the creator of the original Shadowrun, was inspired by the success of many other studios that took to Kickstarter and chose to follow the same path.
At the time of writing, the campaign had raised over $600,000, meaning that the game will also be seeing a Mac release as well as the original plan to appear on tablet and PC. Multiple languages will be supported, including German and French. If $1,000,000 is raised, Harebrained Schemes is promising a second setting and major city of the backer’s choice and an improved editor. There are nineteen days left to pledge to the campaign.
Analysis: The quick rise of crowd funding has done wonders for the industry, in my opinion, and I really want to see how all the titles that have adopted this funding strategy turn out. The one problem I see with this is this: what if the game doesn’t turn out the way a pledger hoped for? I can see a lot of problems arising, such as people mistakenly believing that they now own and have a voice on how the game should turn out because they pledged money to help development costs.
Another small issue that I could see occurring is something I can only liken to a person purchasing a product on eBay. You buy something you don’t really need on a whim for a price you weren’t really prepared to spend, and you then find yourself stuck with it essentially. My point is that I could see a fair few of the pledges pulling their money out entirely or regretting involving themselves within the campaign if money is too tight or if a loss of interest occurs.
However, I’m all in favour of fans providing the funding for games they’re interested in. Why involve publishers that can greatly determine the direction a game can take when a studio has their own vision and are willing to share that vision unfiltered to the public? It provides another option for studios to develop their title, and honestly, more power to them for taking that path.