The amazing games that prove Kickstarter works

Forget the Yogscast failure, these Kickstarter successes prove the model works. Have you played any?
Mercenary Kings
The amazing games that prove Kickstarter works © Tribute Games
By Jon Partridge

Last month, the YouTube gaming icons at Yogscast caused a scandal when they revealed that the Kickstarter-funded Yogscast game Yogventures! by partners Winterkewl Games had been canned before release – even though the campaign smashed its original $250,000 goal by more than 100 percent. The $567,665 that Winterkewl Games raised evidently was not enough, and it looks like the six man team bit off far more than they could chew, casting the whole crowdfunding model into disrepute in the process. It’s not the first Kickstarter game project to collapse and it probably won’t be the last, but don’t let it put you off backing exciting new ideas – these Kickstarted games have already made it onto virtual shop shelves and prove that it really can work. How many have you played?

Divinity: Original Sin

© Larian Studios

It’s only just gone on sale for PC and Mac, but if you want proof that Kickstarter works, look no further than old-school, RPG Divinity: Original Sin. Not only is Lariat Studios’ turn-based adventure the most well-reviewed Kickstarter game ever, it’s the one of the most well-reviewed games of the year so far with a 91 percent approval rating on Metacritic and critical acclaim by the bucketload. It’s the perfect example of what’s possible with crowdfunding – a beloved genre ignored by console-focused publishers, a clever knowing script and a development process that’s completely transparent for backers. Of course, it also helps that the game is hilariously funny, with an open-ended approach to gameplay and an excellent co-op mode. Feel let down by Yogventures? Have fond memories of Baldur’s Gate? Trust us, this game will restore your faith in Kickstarter.

Broken Age

© Double Fine Productions

Originally known as Double Fine Adventure, Tim Schafer’s indie darling, Broken Age, helped put Kickstarter gaming projects on the map. Originally, Double Fine was looking for just $400,000 to cover the costs of making the game and filming a documentary, but instead, more than 87,000 fans raised over $3.45 million for the game, making it the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever at the time. It’s not been all smooth sailing for Schafer and co. however, as the team realised they would likely run out of funds before completely finishing the full game. Schafer changed up the development schedule for the game, and released the first half on Steam Early Access for testers to play earlier this year, hoping that the revenues gained from the first half would help pay for the second. Part one of this charming point and click has received rave reviews, while we’re still waiting for the second half which is due later this year. Bring it on.

Shadowrun Returns

© Harebrained Schemes

Another great example of a dormant but beloved genre or IP being revived by crowdfunding, the licence for this neo-noir sci-fi adventure series was gathering dust in the Microsoft archives until the original creator Jordan Weisman raised enough money on Kickstarter to obtain the rights for a new game set in the universe. Shadowrun Returns is a clever isometric tactical roleplaying game with a vivid Blade Runner-esque setting and lots of missions to get your teeth stuck into, plus a comprehensive level editor so you can try your hands at many more made by the community. Better still, it’s available on iOS and Android tablets as well as the desktop. A new expansion campaign, Dragonfall, as well as a director's cut follow up, have also been released and are free to backers - now there's an incentive to keep on kickstarting.

Mercenary Kings

© Tribute Games

Canadian developers Tribute Games, made up of ex-Ubisoft employees who worked on the epic 16-bit-inspired Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Video Game, took to Kickstarter back in the summer of 2012 to raise funds for their love letter to the side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. With pixel artwork from the legendary Paul Robertson, the team were looking for $75,000 to start up the project, but managed to raise nearly double on the crowdfunding site, totalling $116,064. The result? Mercenary Kings, a Metal Slug-inspired retro romp that takes equal inspiration from the RPG world and the likes of Borderlands to customise your weapon, all while you shoot and stab your way through various levels. It hit Steam and PlayStation 4 consoles earlier this year to favorable reviews, while the PlayStation Vita version is on the way – sometimes with Kickstarter you just need a little bit of blind faith.


© Camouflaj

After leaving Hideo Kojima and Konami – and what many would consider a dream job – producer Ryan Payton struck out on his own to Kickstart his own studio, and had lofty ambitions for an iPhone stealth-adventure that would turn the mobile gaming world on its head. Known as République, Payton and his team at Camouflaj raised a hefty $555,662 of backer money on Kickstarter in May 2012 – a large amount at the time – and have since launched two chapters of the episodic game to positive reviews, and it’s easy to see why: there’s nothing else quite like it on iPad.

FTL: Faster Than Light

© Subset Games

Top-down, space-age real time strategy sim FTL: Faster Than Light, which aimed to help recreate what it’s like to run a spaceship exploring the galaxy, took to Kickstarter in February 2012, with developers Subset Games asking for just $10,000. Instead, backers chucked plenty of cash at the project (it blasted past 200 percent of its goal in just its first day) to boost it up to a galactic-worthy $200,542 – more than 20 times its goal – by the project’s finish on April 1, giving the developers plenty of funds to smash the game’s development. Subset Games wasn’t just happy with the original launch, as its recent expansion pack boasts new races, new ships, and plenty more of the addictive, yet fiendishly difficult gameplay that the title is known for – all for free, too.

Planetary Annihilation

© Uber Entertainment

Many of the most popular and successful Kickstarter projects are small scale productions, bite-sized experiences by small teams. Planetary Annihilation, on the other hand, is the most ambitious real time strategy game ever made, with support for up to 40 players and a million units duking it out across the in-game universe at once. Technically, Planetary Annihilation hasn’t been released commercially yet, but it’s been available for the public to test on desktop in its alpha, beta and gamma releases, so you can rest easy knowing that most of the work is done and the game will be completed.

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