Why We Built Fig: Bringing Investment-based Crowdfunding to Games

As someone who’s been entrenched in the gaming industry for the past decade, I’ve been able to watch the evolution in game development and financing models that have fundamentally changed the way in which games are brought to market.

As the COO of Double Fine, I was on the front lines of finding and adopting new funding models that enabled the studio to stay independent and retain creative control. It was exciting to see all the game campaigns raising millions of dollars through crowdfunding, and to see the struggles and opportunities afforded to each of them. I experienced the complete crowdfunding arc from campaign inception to commercial distribution. Along the way, we were transparent with our community and we learned a ton in the process — which is good, because there was a lot to learn!

During those years, Tim, Brian, Feargus, and I all heard from a bunch of independent developers who wanted to know if crowdfunding was the right avenue for them. When crowdfunding made sense for these developers, they also sought our feedback on their campaigns, assistance getting the word out, and endorsements and promotional support of their games. We noticed after a while that the majority of games that were succeeding with crowdfunding were the very games that we helped advise — this was exhilarating! But one thing that didn’t occur was a year-over-year growth of crowdfunding to support bigger and more complex games, nor was there a way for talented developers without existing communities to get discovered, and this lead to an alarming number of crowdfunding campaign failures.

It was parallel to this that I met another game financing pioneer, Aaron Isaksen, Co-creator of the Indie Fund, a group of successful indie developers who project finance other developer’s games — and they are quite possibly the most successful investment group in games. The two models seemed complementary, and Aaron and I spent a great deal of time figuring out how project financing and crowdfunding could work harmoniously together.

Fig comes at an important time — the stakes have never been higher! Crowdfunding is evolving to allow for project-based investing by fans, and Oculus shows the potential of this approach. Most of the developers we talked to want their customers to be invested in their games — it’s a way to get more involved with their community and to give back to those who gave to you.

That’s why we’ve taken what has been the ‘one size fits all’ model of crowdfunding — one that currently covers everything from taxidermy to interpretive dance — and created a platform that’s just for games. It’s why Tim, Brian, Alex, and Feargus — each of whom have run some of the largest crowdfunding campaigns, and delivered some of the most successful games, are a vital part of our board of advisors. It’s why we’re so passionate about allowing gamers the option to invest in our platform’s titles.

By coupling investment based crowdfunding with a strategy to build and retain a lasting community, Fig has the potential to grow crowdfunding in games into a healthy and self-sustaining ecosystem. Together with our advisors — the creators who’ve helped influence and evolve the whole crowdfunding medium — we’ve envisioned a new model where studios can stay independent, new talent can be discovered, and profits can be shared with the fans and investors who’ve helped them along the way.

Each and every new campaign we launch is an opportunity to try new things within the funding ecosystem for games and learn from our community. We’re excited about our latest campaign, Anchors in the Drift, and can’t wait to share more with you.

-Justin Bailey, Fig

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