Philip and Andrew Oliver have admitted their bid to fund a new Dizzy game on Kickstarter is almost certain to end in failure after raising just £23,000 of its £350,000 goal with eight days left on the clock.
Just 770 people have backed the project, which at the time of writing has raised £24,525 – barely one-fifteenth of the total required. In a lengthy, candid update on the Dizzy Returns Kickstarter page, the pair admit that they could have handled things better.
“As of today, the total amount pledged stands at just over £23,000 of our funding goal,” the post reads. “In order to meet that we’d need over £40,000 pledged every day, and realistically that’s not going to happen.
“When we started the Dizzy Returns campaign we were in the pre-development stage, concepting characters, locations and game mechanics. Many of you asked to see a demo or some gameplay footage – unfortunately that doesn’t exist yet, because of the simple fact that we haven’t begun actually making the game.
“As we have learnt all too well, starting the campaign this early in pre-development has made it much harder to communicate our vision of Dizzy Returns, and there’s no denying that we should and could have done this better.”
No doubt this was a contributing factor – but it was far from the only one. While there is doubtless a significant number of people out there who would be interested in a new Dizzy game, what the Oliver Twins were pitching bore little resemblence to the 1980s originals that are so fondly remembered. Dizzy Returns would be five times larger than the old games, the pair said, with over 200 physics, light and time-based puzzles. There was even talk of concurrent quests.
While specific mistakes were made, Dizzy Returns seems also to have fallen foul of a general sense of fatigue setting it at Kickstarter projects founded largely, if not solely, on nostalgia. Kickstarter’s recent launch in the UK, coming over eight months after Double Fine Adventure showed the game industry the true potential of crowdfunding, has naturally resulted in a number of UK developers launching projects of their own. Given Tim Schafer’s success it’s understandable, too, that many of those projects were for reboots or remakes of long-lost, much-missed genres and series that risk-averse publishers aren’t prepared to fund.
And, arguably, the Oliver Twins were just too late. David Braben, with Elite Dangerous, and Peter Molyneux, with spiritual Populous successor Godus, beat them to it, and both prompted much eye-rolling. Braben’s request for a million pounds seemed fanciful until he produced video footage showing that the game was already some way into development. Molyneux’s project, meanwhile, launched while his 22Cans studio was under fire for connectivity issues with iOS and Android experiment Curiosity – What’s In The Cube, and is only 60 per cent funded with eight days remaining.
To their credit, the Olivers aren’t cancelling the project; they’re leaving it open, promising to spend the remaining days revealing the work they’ve done to date. Perhaps they’re still hopeful of an improbable comeback. Either way, we’re suddenly facing the very real prospect of Kickstarter turning from an exciting new business model to a tiresome last chance saloon for the naïve and interminably nostalgic in the space of nine months. Even at the pace this industry moves, that’s quite a turnaround.