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Fig Lets You Crowdfund Computer Games For Profit, Not Just Fun

Fig Lets You Crowdfund Computer Games For Profit, Not Just Fun

Fig Lets You Crowdfund Computer Games For Profit, Not Just Fun
August 18
15:02 2015

A conspiracy has been hatched by the world’s top Triple-A and indie developers to change the way computer games are financed. It’s called Fig. It’s a highly-curated reward and equity crowdfunding funding platform just for games.

Each month, Fig will debut one major studio title and one independent release, and already has campaigns lined up from lauded studios like Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Double Fine. Fans can fund it to earn traditional rewards like downloadable content or a chance to meet the developer.

But if developers want, they can allow “accredited investors” with net worths over $1 million, to invest at least $1,000 in exchange for a share of the game’s revenue. Eventually, Fig hopes to employ the JOBS Act crowdfunding regulation to let anyone, not just the very rich, invest in games for equity.

Investment Fig Jpeg

Today Fig launches with a campaign to raise $125,000 for Outer Wilds, the unfinished game that won the 2015 Independent Games Festival Awards’ Grand Prize. If you know the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day (or Tom Cruise’s Edge Of Tomorrow), this first-person adventure game is a lot like that. Save the world before you die, or wake up at the start of the same day and try again with newfound knowledge.

Rewards range from $20 for a copy of the game to $10,000 for an IRL adventure with with the game’s developer Mobius Digital’s team including TV show Heroes’ star Masi Oka. But starting at $1,000, people can also invest for equity in the game and earn money if it’s a hit.

Here’s a video announcing Outer Wilds on Fig:

Why Ditch Kickstarter?

Because games are outgrowing one-size-fits-all sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. One game called Star Citizen raised $2 million on Kickstarter, before going on to raise a whopping $85 million more on its own website where it had more control over the funding.

Justin Bailey 1

Fig CEO Justin Bailey

Fig CEO and “Psychonauts” game studio Double Fine COO Justin Bailey tells me “The current leading platforms, they’re meant to be everything to all different industries. The campaign structure has to work as well for taxidermy as it does for $5 million video games.”

So Bailey raised funding from Spark Capital and assembled a team of advisors from the top crowdfunded games. Those include Feargus Urquhart of Fallout developer inXile’s Brian Fargo, and Tim Schafer from Bailey’s company Double Fine, which made Brutal Legend.

Together, they built Fig, which is named after the Hotel Figuroa in LA where developers stay for the E3 gaming conference. Bailey tells me “ran [Fig] by the top 10 game developers on Kickstarter and they’re for it.”

So how exactly is it different? Fig is black like Steam, where many of the games it funds might eventually be sold. It’s built around a development timeline that lets backers know how far along the game is. And fans can easily assemble bundles of different digital content rewards.

For comparison, Kickstarter is overrun by games so it’s tough to know what’s worth funding. Cobbling together digital content bundles is awkward, discouraging pledges. And Kickstarter doesn’t offer equity crowdfunding. At it’s core, Fig is designed for flexibility, and can mold to the games it hosts.

Fig could provide a more reliable way to invest in games. Funding whole studios can be dicey, because it’s tough to know if they’ll strike gold again and succesfully follow up on a past blockbuster. It could also prevent disgruntling tales of crowdfunding projects like Oculus, where its early backers received no compensation when Facebook bought the company for $2 billion.

If Fig succeeds, it could free game developers from some of the need for traditional capital, and let them be funded by the people who love them.


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