Ambitious indie game makers in Minneapolis turn to Kickstarter for cash

Monster! on Kickstarter

Two firms local to Minneapolis, Reve Studios and Gray Squid Division, are teaming up on a new ‘2D puzzle platformer’ gaming concept for iOS with the hopes of leveraging the money and social wisdom of the crowds to fund their next product launch to the tune of $70k — or more.

Rather than contemplating a traditional bootstrapped vs. angel investor model, they’re pursuing an increasingly popular third option via the ubiquitous crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to determine if Monster! has the kind of merit to be the next big fan favoritite.

The idea for Monster! was initially birthed in 2010 by Reve Studios founder Chad Robinson who made an early attempt at launching it through a national indie video developer contest.

“While that contest came and went, I always found myself coming back to it,” Robinson says.   After getting to know Joel Stewart and Matt Pacyga from Gray Squid Division over the years through a different project, the trio hit it off.  Robinson will spearhead the project on the creative side, while Stewart handles more of the technical mobile development and Pacyga holds it all together.

“We are excited to be pursuing something new that we’re all so passionate about,” says Pacyga.

“Monster! is a 2D puzzle platformer where the player must defeat gigantic beasts that threaten the lives and lands of his people. You journey through the game as either Bruce or Lenny, two best friends who assist each other in their quest for the five fragments of the Amulet of Oogle. This ancient amulet gives the wearer the power to speak to and control the great beasts who have put this world in peril. With the power of teamwork, and a little help from the friends they make on the way, Bruce and Lenny navigate through five treacherous lands in search of the amulet pieces that will help them save their homeland.”

The project officially went live yesterday on Kickstarter and already has accumulated 31 unique supporters pledging a cumulative $1,407, or 2%, towards the $70k minimum needed to get it off the ground.  If the project is able to amass full funds within the next 29 days, the anticipated development cycle for Monster! is “optimistically” 7 – 8 months down the road.  With a minimum pledge of $1, supporters can choose from a variety of commitment tiers (and accompanying incentives) up through $10k+.

New York Times recently compiled data on “Three Years of Kickstarter Projects,” and found that the gaming genre is the fourth most popular category behind film, music, and design, coming in at $20m pledged through the platform since its NYC launch in 2008.  Detailed findings show that the average financing of “successful” gaming projects was roughly $27,000.

While there may be little risk in testing the global appetite for Monster! considering the all-or-nothing nature of a Kickstarter campaign, one has to wonder…why such a high financial threshold?

Well, that’s all a matter of perspective to Pacyga, who cites the market value of the sheer number of people involved (5-6), the desire to “do more than scrape by,” and “raise the standard” for indie developers.  “The $70k minimum benchmark would truly enable this project to under promise and over deliver, considering the other devices, operating systems and possibilities in terms of game play depth.  We want to do it right the first time.”

“Kickstarter gives independent developers like us, those who don’t have the history or storied careers of industry vets behind us, the opportunity to show the world what we can do with the ideas we have,” says Robinson.

“This kind of creativity, technology and scale can happen here and we will prove to the world that Minnesota has what it takes to hang in the indie gaming industry,” Pacyga concludes.