Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ransom Publishing... Sort of

There's an interesting marketing method for funding development of new products: the threshold pledge model, also known as ransom publishing. In this model you announce a product (either one that's complete, or one you are working on) and a goal; once you've received enough orders to reach that goal, you publish the product (shipping out all the orders you've received).

A development group founded by veterans of Iron Lore and its popular Titan Quest action RPG (yes, it was a Diablo clone) are now trying a variant of this for their new game Grim Dawn, without setting a particular threshold. They're offering fans a chance to pony up some cash and get access to the beta, or even the alpha version, by buying in advance. Apparently they're hoping to avoid a standard publishing deal, using this method to assist their self-financing.

Here's the specifics for Grim Dawn: You can preorder for $20; the $32 Epic Fan edition gets you beta access, an in-game item, and your name in the credits, while the $48 Legendary Fan Edition adds alpha access to that package (along with the "holy reverence" of the creators). I do wonder about legal liabilities for the debt, if for some reason the development process halts.... but perhaps that's covered somehow.

It's an interesting variation on the threshold pledge system, with the variation being that they are not setting a threshold level in order to win the product's release. It is getting them some marketing exposure (at least mention on some different blogs). Will it be enough to actually pay for the development? Is this a model that could work for books or other media? I think the odds of getting enough money through this method depend on the size of your existing audience (created through other products you've done), and the cost of developing the product in question (both in time and money). Asking someone for money now for a product that's a year or more away seems dicey, especially given how reliable game software development is in general. Shelling out some cash now for an RPG supplement a month or two from now seems like a more acceptable risk.

I don't expect this to become widespread, but it's indicative of how experimentation with business models is ever more necessary as the business keeps changing.

No comments:

Post a Comment