Night Trap ReVamped is in Need of Help
By Marcus EstradaNight Trap, released in 1992, was one of the early full motion video (FMV) games. This odd tale of vampires, er, “augs” invading a suburban slumber party felt like a teen horror flick straight out of the 80s. And in fact, it was initially produced in 1987. Since then, the game has achieved cult status with those who never even owned a Sega CD or 32X able to sing the iconic theme song. To a diehard FMV fan as myself it would be hard to select any other title as the first to receive a HD version.
Jim Riley, Rob Fulop, Mark Klein, and Tom Zito comprise the leading roles of Night Trap Inc. and are ready to recreate Digital Pictures’ best known title. Many of these names should be familiar to gamers and come with a high pedigree. With that said, it seems they have jumped into the realm of Kickstarter without considering some of the more basic aspects of how to handle a crowdfunding campaign. Although they may seem obvious to obsessed crowd funders like us, many projects continue to stumble in the exact same ways. I’m going to try and break down the main issues present in the Night Trap ReVamped project thus far.
Price for boxed copies is too good to be true
I honestly don’t know the last time that a Kickstarter promised boxed copies of anything at the $20 tier. In the early days this was more common – until people realized that shipping is wildly expensive, as is the production of tangible items itself. Then there’s the fees charged to publish on various consoles. It is simply not feasible to offer boxed games at this price tier and get anything back for it, basically. Each of these four $20 physical tiers states there are a limited 2000 to go around. That means they are apparently willing to offer up 8000 boxed copies…. Until you read an official response in the comments that states: “We tried to keep the price as low as practical, and limited the number (750) so that it would really be a collector’s item for fans to treasure.” Wait, what?
This one response leads to a whole other string of questions that likely may not be addressed anytime soon. Do they really intend to only create 750 copies? If so, where does that leave up to 7250 others who may pledge to the $20 physical tiers? Actually, where does that leave a possible 15,250 backers (after factoring in the $40 signed box tier)? Of course, the campaign doesn’t look like it will receive nearly that much attention, but the point still stands that their tiers suggest far more copies will be produced than is apparently the case.
They don’t seem to understand the modern gaming era
When Night Trap ReVamped launched, there was no option for digital downloads. Had they taken a peek at almost any other recent gaming Kickstarter they’d have seen the trend is almost uniformly toward digital only copies at the first tiers. This is also the reality of independent games in the current era. Very few receive a boxed print run of any size. To their credit, the logic that fans of the original would want a boxed copy is probably not far from the mark. However, many modern players simply want to enjoy ease of access that digital copies afford them.
Perhaps the biggest “huh” moment was that the campaign launched as exclusive to PC, PS3, and 360. The reasoning behind this shared on the page stated that Night Trap simply had no need of the advanced processors in both the PS4 and Xbox One. Of course, anyone paying attention to the independent game scene is well aware that technical necessity is not why most developers port their games to modern consoles. After all, games such as FEZ and Rogue Legacy played just fine on older consoles! The reason you bring games to multiple systems is to help increase your base and, hopefully, make additional money in the process.
Honestly, it seems they were unaware of a lot when the basic groundwork for this Kickstarter was set. After all, there is even another bonus to working on “current gen” machines (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U). By this point in time companies are far more friendly to indie publishing than ever before. It doesn’t cost as much as it did in just the last generation. Of course, now the campaign has tiers for modern consoles alongside PS3 and 360. On one hand they did recognize that larger user bases could generate to higher sales but they should have factored in all this other stuff when making the original decision.
Wishy washy to the extreme
So, we just talked about how they reversed a decision in the first two days of the campaign, noting they “stupidly neglected” digital downloads. It’s one thing for a project lead to be open and another for them to publicly stumble immediately out of the gate. But this is not the most notable decision reversal. That belongs to an apparent tumultuous relationship with Nintendo. On day two they briefly explained why their game would not come to Wii U:
“We bear Nintendo no ill will… but life is short and you have to pick your targets of opportunity. We simply have no interest in paying licensing fees to a company that once tried very hard to put us out of business.”
This was a very stark, and apparently firm, comment as far as readers were concerned. It seemed that Nintendo fans would be without a copy of the game. And then they changed their mind. On day four they announced Wii U copies may be in the cards after all with an excited little update! But where was that resolve they showed just days ago that clearly explained why they could never publish on a Nintendo system? I, for one, have no idea.
Counterpoint: They likely really do require $330,000
A lot of people watching this campaign have suggested the funding goal is far too high. Some who work with video have explained that getting HD quality may not be so hard or expensive. Given that I have no knowledge in this area, I can’t say for sure. But this isn’t really my focus. As stated in a Kotaku interview with Tom Zito, they needed $250,000 simply to buy the rights to Night Trap off Hasbro. They have factored this into the full cost. If you think of it from that perspective, then they are only set to receive $80,000. Subtracting for Kickstarter and Amazon fees, they will have even less to produce and ship boxed goodies. Then subtract associated fees with developing on multiple platforms and you have… even less money with which to actually put toward working on the game.
Honestly, if anything, a goal of $330,000 might just allow them to squeak by but it will be tight. After all, they have to both produce and publish the game across platforms and provide tangible backer rewards (games, posters, CD singles). This is a huge risk. It’s possible the team was hoping for a runaway success, with funding over 100%. At this early point in the campaign it doesn’t appear that will be the case. Instead, it feels they will just barely make 100% if they do at all. Current projections via Kicktraq’s algorithms place final funding at around $100,000. It seems at this point in time backers have become much more savvy about backing only “sure bets.”
Some have suggested that Night Trap ReVamped is a scam. I highly doubt this is the case considering everyone who is involved. Beyond that, they’ve already shown some proof that they have the wherewithal to produce HD video from the Night Trap video files. What this campaign illustrates is tremendous inexperience in regards to both Kickstarter and modern gaming business. With that said, I desperately want to see this project succeed. Here’s hoping they can get their act together and win over enough backers before the campaign ends. Everyone needs to experience Night Trap at least once in their lives.