A Newport Beach video game maker raised more than $1 million online Wednesday with the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter to fund its second game.
Just six hours after launching the online campaign, Brian Fargo and his inXile entertainment reached the $900,000 goal to make a role-playing game called "Torment: Tides of Numenera." The donations kept coming. By lunchtime, the campaign passed the $1 million mark, two hours quicker than fundraising for OUYA, a game console that went on to earn $8.6 million on Kickstarter.
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would fund this quickly," Fargo said on Twitter.
Fargo's inXile drew the attention of the gaming world in April 2012 when the studio raised $2.9 million from more than 61,000 supporters to make the video game, "Wasteland 2." It was one of Kickstarter's most successful campaigns ever.
"Wasteland 2" is scheduled to ship in October, while "Torment" is slated for December 2014.
Fargo says he turned to the crowd-funding website to independently support creation of his company's video games without having to depend on established publishers to bankroll and direct his projects. Kickstarter, based in New York, allows artisans and entrepreneurs to connect directly with supporters online.
For varying levels of support costing $20 to $10,000, inXile's backers are promised downloadable copies of the game, collectible goodies, the ability to name characters in the game or the opportunity to attend an exclusive launch party.
After his first successful fundraising drive, Fargo became such a supporter of the online platform that he launched an unofficial campaign called "Kicking It Forward," promising 5 percent of his profits from the new game to support other projects on Kickstarter. Nearly 200 projects have joined the campaign.
Fargo previously founded Interplay Entertainment and helped create a video game called "Wasteland" in 1988, a post-apocalyptic role-playing game, for publisher Electronic Arts. He eventually left Interplay and founded inXile in 2002.
A year ago Fargo posted a video criticizing publishers and poking fun at the state of the video game industry as part of his first Kickstarter campaign. In the video, he pitches his sequel to "Wasteland" to a child actor posing as a video game publisher. The kid was only interested in games similar to "Angry Birds," and when Fargo mentioned the year "Wasteland" debuted the boy responded "I'm pretty sure my mom graduated high school that year."
For "Torment," another role-playing game, Fargo brought back the same child actor and used him to explain why the CEO is coming back for more money before he's delivered on "Wasteland 2." "The writers and concept artists have finished their work on "Wasteland" and we'd like to get them going on another project," Fargo explained.
"Don't you just fire them when they're done?" the kid responds.
Due to Kickstarter, Fargo explains to his audience of supporters, "I don't have to have conversations like that anymore."
While Fargo and his 21-employee company may not work for publishers anymore, they still have to deliver on their promises.
Given the company's success on Kickstarter, fans have high expectations. More than 80,000 people have contributed financial support.
"If 'Wasteland 2' doesn't come out or meet expectations, their backers are going to be once bitten twice shy," said Jesse Divinich, vice president of insights for video game research firm EEDAR.
Fargo expressed gratitude for his supporters' continued faith in his efforts.
"I'm in the hands of the fans," he told the Register recently. "I don't count on any outside person to help or hurt me."
"Torment" continues fundraising through April 5.
"It's like a telethon," Fargo said.
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