[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]f you were a PC gamer in the 90’s and early 2000’s you’ve undoubtedly come across the Railroad Tycoon series. Started by Sid Meier back in 1990, the Railroad Tycoon series has allowed millions of train and strategy game enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the drunken power of Cornelius Vanderbilt, but without the drama. Although Meier was only involved in the first and fourth games in the series, the Railroad Tycoon games continue to be loved by many.
That brings us to a tragedy currently unfolding on Kickstarter.
Rails and Riches is a new rail strategy game that’s described as a ‘spiritual successor’ to the Railroad Tycoon series. The game features everything you would expect, including laying tracks, transporting cargo (and humans), and maintaining profitability. On top of that, the developers of Rails and Riches aim to give players larger maps, the option to import their own content, modern graphics, and more. To make the deal even sweeter Rails and Riches is being developed by industry vets with some impressive titles under their belts, including Franz Felsl; a man that contributed significantly to Railroad Tycoon 2 and 3.
So what’s the problem? Well, we’re 11 days into the Rails and Riches Kickstarter campaign and only $7,733 has been raised. That’s $7,733 of an $800,000 funding goal. Needless to say things aren’t looking good for anyone involved. While it’s easy to blame other big name campaigns sucking the air out of the room, gamer disinterest, or the press for not covering what could be a great game; the real answer is quite simple. The Rails and Riches Kickstarter was destined to fail from the moment it launched.
The Twitter account and website for Rails and Riches were rolled out just a couple weeks before the Kickstarter launched, leaving no time to build a community around a game with an intriguing pedigree, but no official licensing. The Kickstarter campaign not only features a wildly aggressive funding target, but it’s also devoid of the kind of information backers want, namely screenshots and gameplay footage. None of this is to say that Rails and Riches is one of those sad Kickstarters where someone asks for a ton of money after offering up a minimal level of effort, but it’s certainly not an $800,000 campaign. With the right screenshot mockups and some additional artwork it could be a $50,000 campaign, but in its current state it would be surprising if it raised much more than $20,000.
Will we see Rails and Riches again after the Kickstarter ends? I certainly hope so. The developers desire to carry on the legacy of Railroad Tycoon is admirable, and they have the development experience to make it happen. Now they just need to go back to the Kickstarter drawing board.