SEPT. 24, 2014 • Four days out from its September 19 release on Steam, Wasteland 2 from inXile Ent. has generated $1.5 million in revenue. This RPG for PCs benefited from a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $3 million in 2012. The original funding goal was $900,000, which was then the largest Kickstarter target to date. Although the game is the first official sequel to Interplay Productions’ Wasteland from 1988, the Fallout series drew inspiration from the franchise. Wasteland 2 is available in a $39.99 edition playable on PCs, macs and Linux; plus a $59.99 Deluxe version.
Impact: In today’s video game industry $1.5 million may not seem like much but in the context of Wasteland 2 this is a fairly critical take. The amount may amount to sales to under 40,000 consumers yet the game reportedly cost $6 million to produce. Subtract the $3 million that was raised from crowdfunding and Wasteland 2 is three-quarters paid for. The allure of Kickstarter has been there are game projects major publishers refuse to bankroll because the perceived number of potential buyers is too small. You can imagine the brush-off Wasteland 2 would have gotten in a publisher pitch meeting: “You seriously want us to fund a retro sequel to a 20-plus year-old RPG?” The truth is there are still people out there who want to play a quality isometric-view RPG on their PCs. Like everyone else, we wanted to see whether there are enough consumers who will buy crowdfunded titles like this. It helps that experienced old hands like Brian Fargo and other Interplay alumni were behind Wasteland 2 at inXile. The game is off to a good start on Steam and we think this example goes a long way in proving the model is viable when experienced creative talent is at the helm. Last year inXile took another classic RPG project, Torment: Tides of Numenera, to Kickstarter and raised more than $4.1 million. For decades the game industry has been searching for new ways to fund indie product major publishers refuse to embrace. Plenty of Kickstarter projects have already failed, but for the right IP and the right studio, crowdfunding can help harness the energy and vitality that the industry sorely needs. Major publishers of RPGs have mainly pursued the persistent world model, which is insanely expensive but highly profitable if it works. But the end result is a divide between those high-end products and the low-cost old school stuff that can still find an audience… just at a much smaller scale. The beauty is that this niche audience can now be reached via Steam without ever having to worry about the distribution challenges that killed profitability before.