The Lessons of Kickstarter and Mighty Number 9

When you’ve been around gaming as long as I have, you recognize certain icons.  There is no question that Mario is the most iconic video game character of all time.  He’s recognized worldwide even if you’re not a gamer.  When debating the second most recognizable video game character you can make many cases for many faces.  Regardless, easily settling into the top ten is Mega Man.  The amazing thing about this character is that most of his games were developed during the 80’s and early 90’s and he still holds a recognizable popularity.  It is quite a legacy to say that your video game character is still remembered over 2 decades later.Fans have been begging for more iterations of the mega man series for years.  So, when the famed developer of the Mega Man series, Keiji Inafune, announced his plans for a spiritual successor in the summer of 2013, people jumped on the chance to fund it on Kickstarter.  By September, 2013 the minimum goal was funded.  Remarkably, this was only 2 days after the campaign launched.So that’s it, right?  The game came out last week.  It’s great….you should play it.  The end.Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.  Depending on the platform, metacritic scores the game between 41 and 57.  According to the critics, it’s a dud.  If you’ve played the game and you enjoyed it, I believe your opinion is valid.  When it comes to what you love, you have complete autonomy.With that said, it is clear that something went wrong. So, let’s unpack this.  There is no doubt that fan enthusiasm waned after repeated delays (4 by this writer’s recollection).  There is some validity to the claim that this put a negative view of the game into the minds of gamers and critics thus dooming it before it ever comes out.  It’s the mindset of, “I’ve been waiting this long, therefore, it better exceed all of my expectations, and cure cancer”.  If that is the case, I worry for “The Last Guardian”.  But, I digress.It is also reasonable to speculate that Inafune’s stretch goals and promises to put the game on multiple platforms put a bit of a strain on the development process.  When having to develop for similar platforms like Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U, it is reasonable to assume you are putting long tired hours into your project.  However, this game ended up being promised to 10 different platforms to include smartphone and handheld devices.  And, while it delivered on that promise it is clear that the stretch hurt the finished project.I won’t go into the types of criticism hurled at the game.  You have multiple resources to pull from.  Plus, I didn’t play it.  But there is no doubt that fans of the Mega Man series, and more importantly, backers of the Kickstarter feel a deep flesh wound at the hands of the final product.  And, don’t get me wrong, I was rooting for this project and looking forward to its release along with everyone else.  However, while one’s disappointment is justified, it is important to use this and other projects like it as a cautionary tale.  I’m not here to tell you to stay away from Kickstarter.  Quite the contrary, the gaming industry owes many of its successes to this fabulous feat of capitalism.  Simply, it is important to know that capitalism is about taking risks.  Sometimes those risks can see valuable reward (i.e. Oculus).  But sometimes (and perhaps often) we get disappointing results.Inafune has owned up and taken responsibility for the low quality of the game.  But it’s important to know that he didn’t steal your money (he’s probably not profiting much, if at all).  You gave money willingly.  This time there was little return.  But don’t let that discourage you in investing money in games you care about.  After all, one of these days we may get the Blue Bomber we all deserve.For more on Mighty No. 9 and other gaming news, listen and subscribe to Geek Versus Games.  

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