In early 2012 developer Double Fine Productions launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that would forever change the gaming industry. Their idea was to raise $400,000 to make a point-and-click adventure title, a genre that had long been forgotten by big time video game publishers and triple-A developers. The project earned a lot of buzz and community support, helped by the fact that legendary developer Tim Schafer of LucasArts fame was the face of it all, and went on to set records.
That game, which eventually became Broken Age, brought in over $3.3 million over the course of a month and went from small-time indie project to something much more massive that needed additional financing and a release plan that saw the game cut in half and scheduled as a two-part release. Its success however, started a trend of countless video game projects flooding towards Kickstarter, many headed by industry veterans, and gave rise to the idea that niche games can work and don't need publishers. They can be funded by the fans who will purchase the game anyway.
Since then, many landmark Kickstarter projects have seen success. The Oculus Rift VR headset for instance helped change the industry as well, giving rise to all sorts of new projects beyond gaming, even forcing competitors to jump into the hardware market as well. Oculus VR was eventually acquired by Facebook for $2 billion which caused controversy among some of its Kickstarter backers who saw none of that money as a return. See, Kickstarter is not an investment platform. It's a donation system where interested users can put their money in projects they have faith in for specific rewards. Some of those projects may never come to be.
That's where Fig comes in and it's being used by Double Fine in an effort to change history once again. This time however, they're using it to finally make Psychonauts 2 as announced during the The Game Awards 2015.
Wait, What Is Fig?
What if there was a Kickstarter that instead of donations, allowed interested parties to actually invest? That's exactly what Fig is and it's only for video games. Fig began its life this summer and it was created by former Double Fine Chief Operating Officer Justin Bailey. Schafer's actually on Fig's advisory board, alongside other notable industry personnel, so you can see why it's no surprise then that Schafer is using Fig as the crowdfunding platform for Psychonauts 2.
Fig not only focuses strictly on video game projects, but it curates them with its board and only ones one project at a time. That way there's no waste, no cannibalization, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It began however, with one major problem: only accredited investors in the U.S. could participate. Just last month that all changed and the platform announced that its next project would be opened up to the public, with some restrictions of course, but it was a major step that Bailey had planned from the beginning and one that paves the way for what was announced today: the Psychonauts 2 Fig crowdfunding campaign.
“Our fans constantly ask us to make Psychonauts 2, and often we’ve talked about doing it. The problem is that through traditional means we’ve never been able to raise a budget high enough to do it justice. When we crowdfunded Broken Age in 2012 and broke all the records with the amount we raised, it really showed me the power of our community, and it made me think… maybe we can do this, maybe we could make Psychonauts 2 this way!”
The Plan For Psychonauts 2
The long overdue sequel brings back protagonist "Raz" Razputin, the colorful, cartoonish style, and platforming elements of the original. Where the first game saw Raz attempting to join the titular international psychic secret agent team, Psychonauts 2 will see him as a fully established agent who learns that Psychonauts Headquarters isn't quite what he expected... and they need his help.
Psychonauts 2 is a pretty expensive game and while Double Fine Productions will be paying a "significant portion" of the budget and have an unnamed external partner but the Fig campaign is a big part of the money pie. This is where things get interesting because Psychonauts 2 is the very first crowdfunding campaign in history that offers investment opportunities for accredited and unaccredited investors. And since Double Fine Adventure (Broken Age) made $3.3 million over three years ago, that's the benchmark for Psychonauts 2.
Double Fine's first Kickstarter project made a big splash and their first Fig project aims to do the same. In just a few hours after the Psychonauts 2 teaser trailer and crowdfunding announcements occurred during The Game Awards, over half a million dollars was crowdfunded so expect this game to happen.
For fans of the original who are wondering, yes, Psychonauts 2 will be developed at home in house at Double Fine Productions, with Tim Schafer as project lead, working alongside original collaborators including co-writer Erik Wolpaw, artists Peter Chan, Scott Campbell, and Nathan Stapley, composer Peter McConnell, voice actors Richard Horvitz and Nicki Rapp, and voice director Khris Brown.
It's been a decade since the original Psychonauts released in 2005 on PC, the original Xbox, and PlayStation 2. It was critically applauded and sold over 400,000 copies in its first five years. After Double Fine acquired the rights in 2011 to the property they were able to sell it digitally and it sold over 1.2 million additional digital units, reaching a whole new audience. There's always been demand and chatter of a sequel and now it's finally happening.