Kickstarter isn’t a store, or so the site tells you. But that doesn’t stop it being used as one, as this odd example shows.
Akaneiro: Demon Hunters was successfully kickstarted to the tune of a bit over US$204k on February 3 of this year, just beating its target of US$200k. Another data point – Akaneiro: Demon Hunters launched as a free-to-play title for the PC on January 31.
Yes, this was a game that launched before its Kickstarter completed. How did Spicy Horse Games, headed up by the distinctively named American McGee, achieve this incredible feat?
He used Kickstarter like a store. ‘Kicklaunching‘ was the term American McGee used, saying that having a Kickstarter on a 99% finished game gave the title “a real boost to awareness and engagement”. The Kickstarter rewards offered a lot of in-game items, but they also merchandise and titles that the studio already had available. Look through the reward levels – a rough count comes up with 39 different backer reward options – and look at what was on offer. Here’s a brief screenshot that shows off some of this:
McGee has already announced that Akaneiro was 100% complete and shipping in January regardless of Kickstarter success. In many ways this Kickstarter was all about the promotion of a new title and getting access to the equivalent of pre-order funds through selling existing merchandise / items that only a studio like Spicy Horse could offer. Yes, the money would go into further development of the title, but it was post-launch development – Spicy Horse didn’t need a kickstart here because they would launch Akanerio before the funds would even become available. Surely post-launch development could (should?) have been funded by revenue earned when the game had gone live?
What adds to the issue here is that this game is a F2P title – if a player was interested in Akaneiro, they didn’t have to put any money down to play it. But things certainly got more attractive if they could get a full title for $60 and any extra Akanerio items thrown in as an added bonus.
Not a store? Sure looks like one to me.