But publisher Xseed Games, which specializes in releasing niche Japanese games like Corpse Party and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, says it’s not that easy.
“As a publisher that acquires rights to publish games developed and owned by other companies, it would be extremely difficult for us to use Kickstarter effectively,” said Xseed Director of Publishing Ken Berry in an e-mail to Wired.com.
In order to strike a licensing deal, Berry says, Xseed first confirms the availability of a given title and then puts down money as an upfront guarantee. If Xseed were to use Kickstarter, it would have to ask the IP holder to sit on the license to see if Xseed could raise funds for the project.
“Not only does this come across as being very unprofessional, it also eliminates any risk we would have had by putting up an upfront minimum guarantee ourselves,” Berry said. “While that may seem like a blessing that we have no risk on our side, the main benefit to the licensor is that the licensee is willing to take on all the risk since they are guaranteed a certain amount of money no matter how poorly the title sells.”
In other words, the IP holder lowers its rewards in exchange for lower risk, letting Xseed do the gambling.
“If the licensor sees that the risk can be easily overcome by using Kickstarter, they would be much more inclined to publish it themselves rather than licensing it out,” Berry said.
There’s also the risk that a Kickstarter project could meet its goal and Xseed could use the money to sign a deal only to have unforeseen circumstances lead to things falling apart at the last minute, says Xseed senior editor Jessica Chavez.
“Things like this happen and we wouldn’t want fans, especially after such a show of support, to be disappointed,” she said in an e-mail. “Or angry. Or to send us painstakingly handwritten notes suggesting unpleasant things that might be done to us with blunt and/or sharp objects.”