Badly managed projects, overly ambitions promises and scammers are often observed issues when it comes to crowdfunded games. So far, there’s also been little effort to tackle such problems, at least when looking at Kickstarter and its hesitations of having any sort of direct involvement with creators and their projects.
However, there have been recent attempts to combat this, with Fig being a good example of a new platform mixing regular crowdfunding with more official investment opportunities. This is what brings us to the main star of this article – BrightLocker.
Recently announced to enter closed beta in the beginning of next month, BrightLocker is an upcoming crowdpublishing platform that aims to “redefine the power of the crowd for videogames.” Led by a team of people hailing from the likes of EA, Trion Worlds, Blizzard, Sony Online Entertainment and Bioware, the platform’s main focus lies in having set development teams working on concepts chosen by everyday users.
“BrightLocker is the first platform to allow its community to actually participate in the funding, creation, selection and development of games.”
What does it all mean, exactly? Well, everyone will be able to pitch ideas and vote on existing ones, with the most popular pitches ending up in the hands of BrightLocker’s development teams (one of which is currently working actively on a mobile game called “Light Eaters”). Ruben Cortez, CEO and co-founder of the Austin-based company, mentioned to GamesIndustry.biz that “BrightLocker invests its own money in games the crowd help[s] it select,” further stating that all management oversight, tech and game development is done by the company. In a way, this ensures (on paper) that products will be delivered while being fine-tuned to the desires of customers.
Funded a game or submitted a winning game idea? You also get to receive digital/physical rewards, achievements and currency, or even a potential share of the revenue. As such, the term “gamification” seems to be used several times in promotional content shown by BrightLocker – a slightly tired phrase that’s been used in questionable ways plenty in the past.
Nevertheless, it all sounds pretty reasonable and interesting. Is it commercially viable? Absolutely, from a financial point of view. It looks like the team behind BrightLocker has also been busy accumulating funds through the past year or so, with the company raising nearly $1 million in seed funding, ironically through crowdfunding places such as Fundable and Angel. In fact, the platform was planned to launch with its first title back in June 2015, but we are now looking at early 2016 as an official release window.
However, there are certainly potential issues with such a model. Keep in mind there isn’t a great deal of information regarding the specifics of how BrightLocker will operate, but the notion of giving a great deal of power to the mass user might become problematic. Sure, “everyone has an idea”, but what happens if high-profile backers or idea generators start demanding unreasonable features? What if they don’t have a clue as to what is viable and what isn’t? It’s hard to get it right even for developers with years of experience. Also, I needn’t remind you about the controversies surrounding Peter Molyneux’s Curiosity experiment – a similar case in which a company promised supposed involvement and direct compensation for one lucky individual.
Who knows though – we might be looking at the next big thing. In a way, BrightLocker seems to be trying to bridge the gap between regular crowdfunding and early access models, and that’s certainly an exciting prospect. If you happen to be interested, sign-ups for the closed beta are currently open.