Kickstarter and crowd-funding in general is a platform with wonderful potential to realize the dreams of creators and consumers. Niche, but dedicated fanbases can purchase confidence for developer worried about going hungry if they take a gamble on their fantasy project.
Unfortunately, these projects can easily get out of hand. Mighty No. 9 bungled their production to a series of delays and broken promises, releasing a mediocre product vastly different than the initial vision.
Star Citizen – originally set to release in 2014 – has raised $124+ million and is still in development. The production ballooned with extra modes, including a bizarrely added first-person-shooter titled Star Marine.
With these dark clouds hanging over Kickstarter’s head, a successful Yooka-Laylee is exactly the warm and fuzzy mascot crowd-funding needs.
Evoking childhood nostalgia from gamers now old enough to purchase their own products is a common sales-pitch, but Playtonic Games did everything right.
For starters, the team was stacked with talent from the era. Every lead artist and programmer had worked on some form of Donkey Kong or Banjo-Kazooie. (I learned from their Kickstarter that Technical Director Jens Restemeier worked on this unbelievable GBC port of DKC)
Most importantly, the scope was kept in check with realistic backer rewards. Mighty No. 9 promised a ludicrous ten-platform release. Y-L stuck to the main consoles, only promised simultaneous launch at $1 million, and used Unity to expedite to porting process. The unlockable multiplayer modes require more development of course, but are still within the context of the game engine. No separate mobile game or first-person shooter here.
Yooka-Laylee’s review scores have been mixed so far. Our reviewer Matthew Owen however, loved it, here’s the review if you haven’t already read.
This is why review scores are far less important than the content of the review. Many sites have given a ‘6’ or ‘7’ while claiming the game is too ‘stuck in the past’. But for backers and fans of ’90s platforming, that’s exactly what they’re looking for.
Yooka-Laylee is a high-profile Kickstarter success story that delivered exactly what was promised, on time, and on budget. For the future of crowd-funding, that’s a very good thing.
Check out Matthew O’s extended thoughts on the podcast.