Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interstellar Marines crowdsourced funding not what it seems

Interstellar Marines hopes to buck the trend of small-scale independent games created on shoestring budgets. The title has been worked on by a dedicated team for a number of years and relies on a unique business plan: community members who are willing to pre-order the game fund development. The real story, however, may not be that simple.

A Danish journalist contacted Ars Technica to point out that Zero Point Software's financial history isn't as solid as it leads the public to believe, and the company's previous incarnation was shut down after declaring bankruptcy. Did we have the wool pulled over our eyes? The answer isn't a simple one, and those who chose to preorder need to know what they're getting into.
Before crowd-funding was an option

While community support is clearly a big part of the developer's funding plan—if for no other reason than it helps generate word-of-mouth buzz—it turns out that the company enjoyed significant support that wasn't community-based. Gert Haar-Jørgensen, one of the co-founders of Zero Point Software, largely carried the game's funding needs for over five years. According to his testimony on the Interstellar Marines forums, "the investors up til now are over 90 percent (amount and value) founders and their family and friends (some of the 500 fans on facebook) and the story of our on-going battle to realize the [Interstellar Marines] dream is well-described in the [For The Love Of The Game] video (there are a few additions in the pipeline)."

The indie developer began suffering financial difficulties last year. According to Haar-Jørgensen, his support financed roughly 80 percent of the game's development; he drew the available funds from the income of his other business, Lean Coaching. Due to the flailing economy, he lost a significant amount of business, leaving him unable to continue financing the game. The studio was shut down, and the Zero Point Software name, Interstellar Marines content, and intellectual property reverted back to a holding company while founders and board members tried to figure out what what to do next.
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