This past Thursday, the highly anticipated independent video game "Shovel Knight" was released across both Nintendo and computer platforms. While the game itself received glowing reviews early on, what makes "Shovel Knight" especially intriguing is that it would have never come into fruition without the backing of the gaming masses. Yacht Club Games, the company behind "Shovel Knight," reached out to these men and women for funding. Kickstarter, for all intents and purposes, made this game possible.
It's understandable, though, why there are many people who are hesitant about Kickstater in general and any Internet marketing firm can understand this as well. After all, when you pledge a certain amount of money to a project, you're not exactly guaranteed anything. Yes, the pledges may indicate otherwise, but you never know what might happen during production. For example, early in March a web comic designer by the name of John Oliver burned the many books his Kickstarter backers paid for. Stories like this illustrate that, to various extents, risk is involved with Kickstarter.
With this in mind, what has "Shovel Knight" done differently than other Kickstarter campaigns, both video game-related or otherwise? I can think of 3 reasons why this retro-style video game got it right on the crowdfunding front.
As much as technology advances, especially in the realm of gaming, there's a certain charm that comes with visuals that are deemed "retro." For older players, in particular, it's a visual style that harkens back to a time when life was simple, so it's not too surprising to believe that "Shovel Knight," judging by its aesthetics, could have come out during the 1980's. However, what's just as important is that "Shovel Knight" looks and feels dynamic. In my opinion, the best video games are those which present a sense of adventure, as if there is a gigantic world to explore and little time to go about such an endeavor. Gamers want to believe that they are getting the most out of their investment as possible and Yacht Club Games made certain that the aforementioned sense of adventure was captured. In terms of presentation, "Shovel Knight" performed well at the onset, which carried through to the end of the project.
Even though it's clear that Nintendo's platforms, the Wii U specifically, have seen jumps in terms of sales, it doesn't exactly mean that software numbers will skyrocket. Aside Nintendo's own published software and a handful of established third-party titles, most of the best content on the Wii U is from independent companies. While "Shovel Knight" is able to be purchased on PC, the fact that it is otherwise exclusive to Nintendo platforms speaks volumes. It shows that Yacht Club Games understands the Nintendo audience, which is one that is never shy about leaning towards nostalgia. It also doesn’t hurt that "Shovel Knight" doesn't have much to contend with, given the system's lack of strong third-party titles. With these points in mind, it makes complete sense as to why "Shovel Knight" was initially announced for these platforms when the Kickstarter campaign surfaced. The platforms in question are where the greatest profits can be attained.
Before "Shovel Knight" surfaced, very few people knew about Yacht Club Games. Even after this game rose in popularity, the company still had to engage others. Fortunately, the company made its case clear on various platforms. On its own Kickstarter page, the rewards were listed with specifics in place. For example, if a backer were to pledge $75 during the funding process, that individual would not only be given the rewards from previous tiers but he or she could take part in digital meetings where Yacht Club Game employees would speak about the game design process. It should also be noted that Yacht Club Games is especially active on social media, Twitter in particular. In fact, the company typically updates the page with news centered on "Shovel Knight" or with comments made to tweets directed at them. These are smart endeavors because, as stated before, Yacht Club Games is an independent brand that's slowly earning an audience. The best way to do that, for any company regardless of the specific industry, is to keep people engaged and the Internet's countless platforms can make it happen.