Square Enix Collective Platform Utilizes Crowdfunding
Square Enix has been in a state of reform for some time now. The company has decided to reassess their situation and come up with new strategies to bring their products to market successfully. It appears that during this “spitballing” period that crowdfunding had caught the fledgling publisher’s eye. Today Square Enix has announced its Collective platform. Through a partnership with crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, they’re exploring new ways to bring products to market.
Collective is being touted as a new way for game designers to pitch ideas for their games, receive feedback from the community, and possibly be green-lit for a crowdfunding campaign. This isn’t an open ended brainstorming session, it’s more or less bringing what used to be closed-door pitch meetings into the public eye to see what sticks. Project pitches can be submitted to the platform for free, whether it’s to simply receive feedback from the community, or to seek the Indiegogo funding plan. Square Enix says that game developers will be able to receive real feedback from real players and build momentum for the idea from there.
Once a concept has been on the platform for 28 days, the publisher will then make a decision on whether or not the idea has been successful enough to suggest Indiegogo funding. During this period the game will be put through an evaluation phase. The evaluation will include things like checking your idea against submission parameters, and ensuring that you and/or your team has the competency to pull off development.
Phil Elliot, head of the Collective community says that he wants developers, “to walk away with the majority of the sales revenue, and we want to reinvest any profits back into the platform.” Effectively, Square Enix would handle the marketing and publishing of the game while taking no risk on the development itself.
This idea is presented on high quality paper stock that immediately catches the eye, but the sheen doesn’t last long. The Collective platform be it noble or otherwise is just about as flawed as you can get. The company hasn’t detailed how it’s planning to protect your property from thievery and hasn’t fully explained the terms and conditions of the program.
Something that immediately troubles me is that the Collective platform more or less strips crowdfunding of it’s identity. By definition platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are there to remove the publisher from the equation. With Square Enix Collective were talking about an evaluation process, terms and conditions, and publisher fees. Basically everything that most indie developers are trying to get away from. In some cases crowdfunding is looked at as a last resort for a developer that hasn’t had success pitching his/her idea. But in most situations independents are looking for an audience that wants to play, and pay for, the game the developers themselves want to make, without concession.
My impression of the idea is that Square Enix is having trouble coming up with new IP’s and they’re hoping that by tapping the creative community that they can act as a middle man of sorts. Basically, the developers that submit their ideas to the platform would be responsible for completing the game if it’s funded, only their idea has already gone through the ringer at SE prior to even seeing a crowdfunding campaign.
In concept Collective seems an attractive option at first glance. But as someone who’s worked with a host of independent developers looking to create their game without relinquishing their creative process, Collective is basically a fly in the ointment.
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