The existence of Shenmue III (via Kickstarter) was revealed to unanimous applause at SONY’s E3 2015 press conference last month, but while many have gotten caught up in the hype, they have failed to realize the negative implications that this move has.
First and foremost; since when was E3 the place to announce your Kickstarter? E3 is for exciting game reveals; projects that have already been funded, as well as updates and new details on games we already know about. E3 is not the place for begging, and that’s essentially what a Kickstarter is.
I struggle to even agree with the nature of a Kickstarter in the first place. I get that many studios require funding in order to realize their ambitions, but would it not be the same principle if I were to ask you guys to fund my new opinion piece? You complain about people living off of benefits but when developers ask for money as opposed to earning it, is that not the same principle? Alas, that is the nature of a Kickstarter and I’ll choose to live with that for now. What I can’t abide by is encouraging that process by advertising a Kickstarter at a huge expo like E3.
That’s not to mention how unfair this whole activity is on other development studios. Isn’t the point of a Kickstarter that anyone can have their project funded? But when the big studios start to exploit this, won’t the small ones peter out? All of a sudden, I get the sense that developers will be asking for money that they want rather than what they need. What chance does a small Kickstarter have if all the money is being invested into a project which will end up being published by a huge name like SONY? Could SONY not have funded the project itself as opposed to having the arrogance to promote the money-grabbing scheme in its own briefing?
Ultimately, having a Kickstarter for a fully fledged game like this, and having it announced on as big a stage as E3 just doesn’t seem right.
A few fellow editors at Gamespresso have suggested that this Kickstarter is worth doing in order to test the waters; to see if people will be interested, in other words. I understand that sometimes developers and publishers need to be given that motivation to move forward with a project – I mean it’s essentially market research which is necessary for these businesses – but I feel like that could have been achieved with a simple fan survey as opposed to a plea for cash. Heck, given the reception that Shenmue III received, was it not blatantly obvious that fans were longing for it anyway? Shenmue II was released in 2001, after all.
You can claim that the game needs the funding all you like, but to me something smells fishy about the ethics of this whole situation. Were it to be a one-off then I’d accept it and move on, but to show off a Kickstarter of a game at E3 – a huge game no less – has me concerned that this sort of thing is going to become a trend. Make no mistake, other publishers will have recognized how successful the Kickstarter has been and will follow suit.
If you’re one to complain about pre-order bonuses, unfinished games and the like, do me a favor by choosing not to back a Kickstarter of Shenmue III’s ilk.