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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Larian Studios - The Halo Effect

Default Larian Studios - The Halo Effect

October 3rd, 2014, 08:31
Larian Studios Swen Vincke has a post on his blog where he talks about the decline of kickstarter, and mentions he is open to the idea to doing crow-funding once again.

Not so long ago, in fact, just a few weeks ago when I posted my last blog entry, I said that Kickstarter might not be the right route for our future projects. I argued that it’s a limited pool and that it would be wrong for us to fish in it if our games are earning sufficient money for us to invest in our future projects.

I immediately received a few strong reactions, both publicly but also privately about how I got it all wrong, and that in fact I should steer Larian back to Kickstarter. The reasoning is that successful crowdfunding projects send more people to the crowdfunding scene and that benefits the smaller projects. This is referred to as the “halo effect” and one particular bright person compared it to “a restaurant sitting alone or on a block with many others. They all do better with more traffic”.
And he ends his post with the following quote.

Crowd funding is a wonderful invention and something that has changed the lives of many independent developers. It has rekindled innovation in an over-consolidated market where the traditional powers now have you pay extra to fight the coolest bosses. It should be cherished and protected at all costs and gamers would do well to prefer buying their games via crowd funding lest they find themselves playing games designed by whoever talks best at some marketing meeting.

So, if it indeed is the case that a return to crowd funding by past success stories helps boost the scene then I’m all pro. Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds.

I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts about this, especially if you’re somebody who crowd funded before. Is it ok for a company who’s enjoyed a certain level of success thanks to a crowd funding to return to crowd funding? Is it something that should be encouraged so that more people discover crowd funding? Or is something that should be discouraged because the pool of crowd funding is limited?
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October 3rd, 2014, 08:31
the only problem i see with crowdfunding, is the chance for the weak minded game designers / producers to cater to the "people" and lose sight of their own vision

Other than that, its all good. Benefits far outweigh the problems

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October 3rd, 2014, 08:51
I back games on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, because I like them and not because other games did well.
-> No Halo Effect for me.

I think for Larian going to Kickstarter was the best advertising "getting people involved" campaign they could wish for.
I would return to Kickstarter with the next game if I were Larian for this reason alone.

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October 3rd, 2014, 08:58
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I back games on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, because I like them and not because other games did well.
-> No Halo Effect for me.

I think for Larian going to Kickstarter was the best advertising "getting people involved" campaign they could wish for.
I would return to Kickstarter with the next game if I were Larian for this reason alone.
Agreed. Kickstarter is great for the players too because promising games can be purchased for a fraction of the final price and they get to support passionate creative endeavors in the process. And, of course, the advertising is way better than if a game is simply released on Steam one day.

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October 3rd, 2014, 09:27
Of course the halo effect is counteracted by the kickstarter burn out effect, of which I suffer.
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October 3rd, 2014, 11:56
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Of course the halo effect is counteracted by the kickstarter burn out effect, of which I suffer.
But, and that is the question here, would Larian returning to Kickstarter affect your likelyhood to invest in other crowdfunding projects negatively?

I don't think it would in my case.
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October 3rd, 2014, 12:07
I back Kickstarter and Indiegogo games because:
- I think it would be good that such a game would be made
- I like the person(s) behind it
- I actually want to play the game (could be combined with the previous two)

I back games even though I am aware that I might not find the time to play them. No halo effect for me.
I also depend on Couch a lot for informing me of new crowd funding games

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October 3rd, 2014, 12:46
Halo my ar..se.
Implement what they have been promised first, before even think about milking the cow again.
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October 3rd, 2014, 13:12
Kickstarter is a great option for Larian studios - they can see if there is a huge or small interest in their next project before the game is made. Don't get me wrong - Sven and company are great creative game designers but now and then every studio has an idea for a game that the public is not going to enjoy that much. So Sven shouldn't be worried. I haven't pledged for D: OS, but soon I will buy their game and DLC at full price, because the game is worth the price of 4 beers in a pub.
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October 3rd, 2014, 13:12
Originally Posted by Myrthos View Post
I back Kickstarter and Indiegogo games because:
- I think it would be good that such a game would be made
- I like the person(s) behind it
- I actually want to play the game (could be combined with the previous two)

I back games even though I am aware that I might not find the time to play them. No halo effect for me.
I also depend on Couch a lot for informing me of new crowd funding games
I backed Divinity - Original Sin since I liked Larian as a developer. Why I liked them? Well I liked their past games. I think that's halo effect….
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October 3rd, 2014, 13:30
Ah yes. Different from what was meant originally, but you're right

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October 3rd, 2014, 13:34
Anything that might help to take the non-artist away from control of the art is something worth serious consideration.

I approve!
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October 3rd, 2014, 13:38
I don't back indiegogo projects because I don't want unreached sum passed to a project.

I don't buy crapware, bloatware, pay2winware, cowclickware, phoneware, grinderware, malware and etc.
Sadly, the games industry products in 99% cases are one or more categories above. They just don't make games I want to buy! Which leaves my cash open for business with booze and whores.

That's where Kickstarter comes in. Sure, there are plenty of projects I wouldn't buy even if they were a finished product. But there are also projects big publishers are currently not interested into. Among them are exactly games I want.
Divinity: Original Sin was just one of them and I backed it instantly.

There is no being exhausted by KS projects on my side. I backed many projects already and I don't tend to stop.
This doesn't mean I'd back just any Larian project again. If the project was another RPG, it'd be good old "shuddup and take my money". But if Larian, for whatever reason, tries to kickstart some phonegame or "season pass" scam, sorry guys, my money is going elsewhere.

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October 3rd, 2014, 14:38
The halo effect produced by D:OS is the positive association between Kickstarter and a magnificent product. You read in the news, in forums all over the internet. Just the opposite of the negative effect created by Broken Age and other controversial titles. I think Kickstarter benefits from projects like D:OS as much as Larian Studios benefits from involving the fan. If all projects ended up being a failure or even just a moderate success, Kickstarter would go away fast. So, please go back with another excellent project, possibly in the second half of the development cycle.
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October 3rd, 2014, 16:15
Originally Posted by borcanu View Post
the only problem i see with crowdfunding, is the chance for the weak minded game designers / producers to cater to the "people" and lose sight of their own vision
Boy, not many people out there even spare this a thought. I feel like in Early Access especially devs risk delegating top level design decisions to a thousand beta testers. Designers design games. If you give players everything they want you just end up with mush.

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October 3rd, 2014, 17:18
1) I'm burned out on KS. Until I see how Pillars of Eternity, Jagged Alliance Flashback, Stasis and a couple others turn out, I'm not putting any more money down. D:OS, a great game, was the exception rather than the rule. And some would argue it wasn't a 'real' Kickstart as the game was basically done but lacking content that KS helped add.

2) I would have a problem if a game company made a boatload of money on a Kickstarted game that I helped pay for, then came back to ask for another Kickstart.
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October 3rd, 2014, 17:29
I've supported over 100 projects on Kickstarter, and I don't plan on stopping. When I see something that I believe in, I don't have a problem helping it come to fruition. Indiego, on the other hand, I'd never back a project there. Might as well just give the cash to a panhandler.

I'm not sure I'd sponsor another product from Larian Studios, but at least I'd consider it. There was a lot of compromise with the initial release of Original Sin….and things like that aren't forgotten, no matter how much people might wish it to be so.
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October 3rd, 2014, 17:31
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
I back games on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, because I like them and not because other games did well.
-> No Halo Effect for me…
I was thinking pretty much the same thing there, and that this "Halo Effect" argument is basically nonsense. If this whole crowd-funding thing was new then sure it would have its merits, some success stories to help raise awareness but as is, one would have to have their head firmly and deliberately jammed under a rock to not be aware of it and many of its positives and negatives. News of such success stories have long since made it even into print media and not just in relation to games.

People aren't suddenly going to go "what's this crowd-funding thing, let me throw money at all these things with nice pictures" even though it may seem that way with some things, not limited to just games.

Still I have mixed feelings about a studio who doesn't NEED the money going into crowd-funding, while I think the thought that it means less money for others who need it has obvious flaws, there's just no way to shake the feeling that it's something of a greedy thing to do if they already have the money to fund something.

Of course it's a bit more complex than that with something like games, since the people who give money then, hopefully, get at least a voice about things like design decisions (which in its own can be good or horrendous). An undeniable positive is more people beta testing which improves the end product for people who buy just that. Though I can't help feeling even that cloud has a dark lining in that getting people to pay to do beta testing is backwards and again has a tint of greed to it.

Could easily find more pros and cons but I think the point is that whether or not its okay for someone to do crowd-funding, especially if they don't need the money, depends mostly on the people behind the project, often far more so than the project itself. Great time to point back and again say what total nonsense "Halo Effect" is.

All said and done (or at least some) I can't help leaning towards that those who don't NEED the funding, shouldn't be doing crowd funding. I see crowd-funding as a way to bypass and even stick a finger to the big publishers who dictate what games will be like based on marketing and often snatch up franchises and studios then milking them dry.

Also by going after crowd-funding when they don't need to especially when they're popular, they could be hampering or blocking upcoming competition to themselves. Imagine a successful, popular and all round established company sucking up the lions share of attention and money while what could one day be a great competitor struggles to meet its funding goal and has a smaller chance than ever of being over funded allowing them to make a game even better than originally pitched. After all both attention and money are limited.
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October 3rd, 2014, 17:48
I wouldn't back another Larian game on Kickstarter except at the lowest rate that gets me the game. Mostly because the promises made in the campaign never happened. We got a decent game, but not the game promised by Kickstarter. I would like Divinity much more if it had NPC schedules, a megadungeon, day/night cycles, fully-fleshed companions and henchmen, etc. Would I buy their next game at release? Probably.

Divinity and Eternity have forever stopped me from backing above the minimum. Neither game delivered on the promised goods to my satisfaction. So, I'll kinda back another kickstarter, just at a very low rate. I'm also very happy that I waited for Wasteland 2 to come out to buy it. I almost backed it and at a much higher rate than what I paid to just play it.

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October 3rd, 2014, 18:03
I absolutely think there's a halo effect. Because every successful Kickstarter which delivers a great game makes people believe in the model. People talk about being burned, but so far all my experiences with Kickstarter had been positive, and I've backed well over 20 games. If D:OS, WL2, The Banner Saga, Shadowrun etc. had been cancelled or poor games I would have lost faith in the model. As it stand though, bring on the projects, if they sound promising they will get my pledge.
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