Brian Fargo on Why Crowdfunding Trumps the Traditional Publishing Model

Brian Fargo has become a crowdfunding advocate ever since the Wasteland 2 kickstarter campaign, but if you don't believe me and want proof, you might want to check this summary of his recent talk at the Gaming Insider Summit, in which he argued that crowdfunding effectively trumps the publisher-driven model.

I'd argue Fargo tends to be a bit too optimistic and ignores the downsides, but here are a few good points:
Fargo came out with ten key benefits to utilize crowdsourcing as a developer. One of the recurring themes among these points was the benefits of the freedom obtained by functioning as an independent game. Fargo explained that working with a publisher means that every few weeks, he and his team needed to show progress and defend their product. This process takes time away from the actual development. He also explained how crowdsourcing lets the team treat the game as it should be: A passion project. Without a publisher able to push the team in a certain direction, developers have a broader range of creativity.

Of course, the other big benefit to crowdsourcing is the crowd. Running a campaign on Kickstarter (or a similar service) is an excellent way to generate buzz and excitement for a product, even long before it launches. More important than that, the simple act of running a crowdfunding campaign will provide feedback when it matters most. One of the points Fargo kept returning to was that if the crowd wanted something, they'd support it, regardless of how publishers and other entities feel. This was proven by inXile's wildly successful Wasteland 2 campaign, which began a whole new strategy of development for the company.

Fargo's journey in crowdfunding Wasteland 2 started long before the actual Kickstarter campaign began. Fargo looked at the usual approach of (If you build it, they will come) and twisted it to (They will come and help us build it.) The team began reaching out to fans on forums and other social channels, going over the ideas behind the crowdfunding campaign. They asked the fans if they would back the project and what they should offer as rewards. Fargo's team took the feedback to heart, learning about their fanbase at the same time. Fargo mentioned how the team wanted a special power-up only available to backers, but the fans were insistent that the game should be the same for everyone, regardless of backing.