Tokyo Warfare was met with a warm welcome when it launched on Kickstarter in December of last year. Having been approved by the Square Enix Collective, most observers would have expected it to smash through its modest target of €19,000. With two weeks to go, however, it’s barely scraped past ten percent of that. So what’s gone wrong?
Despite being voted through, Tokyo Warfare is not officially backed by the Square Enix Collective. Developer Pablo Vidaurre explained to me that, right after the game was submitted for voting, Square sent out a press release indicating that all of their crowdfunding slots for the year had been taken. So no matter how voting went, the game would not receive official backing unless the devs were willing to wait at least three months. Unfortunately, the development schedule was already in place. With a release window of Q1 2016, that just wasn’t going to work.
Nevertheless, having been successfully voted through the Collective, I would have expected Square Enix to at least make a token gesture of support for the game. Square haven’t sent out any newsletters mentioning Tokyo Warfare since the end of September when voting began. Surely it wouldn’t have hurt them to send out a single tweet or make a short blog entry on the game?
Originally the campaign was set to launch in late November, but last minute bugs hampered production of the promotional materials. The launch had to be postponed. Launching a week before Christmas is clearly far from ideal. Most of the big gaming sites are already winding down and posting retrospectives by that point. Earlier in the development process, Tokyo Warfare had received coverage from Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun, among others, bringing tens of thousands of hits to their site. During the Kickstarter campaign, they’ve not been so fortunate. Traffic, the developer confirmed, has been their toughest challenge.
If the developers hoped that support for Oculus VR would boost their campaign, the news that it will launch at a price of $600 and requiring a high end GPU can’t have been what they were hoping to hear. At that price, only the most committed fans will be jumping into Oculus VR at this stage.
I think it’s fair to say that the developers have been somewhat unfortunate but a few questionable decisions have been made as well. A funding goal of €19,000 seems very reasonable but stretch goals going all the way up to €185,000 are a little off-putting. With the ultimate target as much as ten times the initial goal, backers must wonder whether the game will be everything they hoped for if it just barely reaches its goal. Admittedly, some of the more ambitious goals were only added in response to calls for a single player campaign during the Collective voting process.
The developer told me that most of their support comes from USA and Japan, which is very much what one would expect. However, I can’t help but wonder whether the same game with mecha instead of tanks would have been more popular. With franchises like MechWarrior and Front Mission seemingly stalled, there would appear to be a gap in the market at least big enough for an indie developer to exploit. Given the manga aesthetic, mecha seem like a more natural fit than tanks.
The good news is that the developer is determined to complete the game and to meet their Q1 2016 launch target. Of course, if the Kickstarter campaign fails to meet its goal, features may have to be cut from the initial release and patched in later. Equally, some features which were lower priority may have to be implemented sooner. With that in mind, why not go and pledge your support for their campaign and allow them to make the game the way they envisaged it.