Broken Age, Double Fine’s classically styled point-and-click adventure and the project that arguably kicked off the trend of Kickstarter funded games, is being split into two in order to cover the game’s unexpectedly high production costs.
Broken Age was one of the first high profile games to be funded via Kickstarter: while Double Fine said they only needed $400,000 to fund the game, they eventually managed to raise over $3.3 million dollars. Despite raising far more money they originally asked far, developing Broken Age has taken longer than expected (it was originally scheduled to come out last year,) and today Double Fine announced that the game is being split into two in order to compensate for the higher than expected development costs.
The first half of Broken Age will be released in January, 2014 on Steam’s Early Access program. Double Fine hopes to use funds generated from the sale of the first half to fund development of the rest of the game.
Tim Schafer, the head of Double Fine Productions and the head designer on Broken Age, released a statement explaining the game’s budget situation and why they had to turn to Steam Early Access to finish the game. “”Even though we received much more money from our Kickstarter than we, or anybody anticipated,” said Schafer, “that didn’t stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money.”
“I think I just have an idea in my head about how big an adventure game should be, so it’s hard for me to design one that’s much smaller than Grim Fandango or Full Throttle,” Schafer said. “There’s just a certain amount of scope needed to create a complex puzzle space and to develop a real story. At least with my brain, there is.”
Schafer added, “You guys have been been very generous in the tip jar (thanks!) but this is a larger sum of money we were talking about. Asking a publisher for the money was out of the question because it would violate the spirit of the Kickstarter, and also, publishers. Going back to Kickstarter for it seemed wrong.”
Kickstarter backers will still receive access to a beta version of the game before it goes up on Steam Early Access, and they will still receive a full copy of the final version of the game for no additional cost when/if it gets finished.
Schafer ended his statement by saying, “”With this shipping solution I think we’re balancing the size of the game and the realities of funding it pretty well. We are still working out the details and exact dates, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.”
People are understandably pissed about Double Fine’s announcement today, but honestly, this sort of thing happens all the time in game development: initial budget projections are unrealistically low, unexpected costs and delays arise, and the final cost of developing a game usually ends up being much higher than what was originally anticipated. It’s a problem that major publishers have put up with for years, and now that the process of funding games has been democratized through Kickstarter, it’s going to be a problem that gamers will have to learn to cope with as well.
I don’t think Schafer or Double Fine are actively trying to gouge more money out of their fans with this move; I genuinely believe that Schafer and his team simply got a little overly excited and carried away with their original success on Kickstarter and ended up designing a game that was a little too ambitious and big for their budget. Yes, $3.3 million dollars is a lot of money to raise, but that’s actually a pretty tiny budget compared to most other big titles. If anything, Double Fine is simply guilty of poor planning and budgeting, not greed.