Living on the internet as many of us do, it’s hard not to become aware of a particular subculture known as the furry fandom. What exactly defines someone as one rather than just generally thinking anthropomorphic animals are pretty neat is a formula that eludes me in truth, but most of us have at least seen someone around a website or community they frequent who self-identifies that way. Though the definition of the group itself seems hazy to me, the members are numerous and devoted enough that appealing to them can make for a significant jump in popularity for your project, and shouldn’t be discounted. Even if that means embracing the inevitable Rule 34 artwork that ends up getting created. Toby Fox of Undertale fame even designated an official Tumblr tag for it to keep it away from younger audiences, knowing it couldn’t be stopped.
Recently some in the furry community took to crowdfunding to create a game of their own. Beast’s Fury, a 2D fighting game that looked like it would have been comfortable in the Street Fighter series, was to be a community effort featuring several different artists. Trailers and playable demos actually looked pretty promising, enough so that I actually became aware of it as just a cool-looking fighter before learning of its furry roots. Plenty of forms of entertainment have featured “furry-style” characters without actually being made by them, and in fact seems to largely be where the fandom developed from in the first place. Point is, it looked legit, not just something designed by a niche audience, for a niche audience.
Funding goals on Indiegogo were met, then extended into a second round on Kickstarter when creator Ryhan Stevens underestimated just how far the $21,000 would go. Then the new funding goal was reached, development resumed and… silence. Time passed, doubt and finger-pointing ensued, and now just recently the project has been announced to be dead in the water and cancelled.
Worse still, it arose that the money that had been raised was simply gone, and that not all of the artists have even been paid for their time. A Facebook post attempted to address these issues, claiming that people had been paid and there was no bad blood or internal conflicts to be had, but simply that the project was too big and difficult for someone new to game development. The money’s gone, the project is unfinished, and that’s all there is to it. You lose, game over.
Were this any other failure of crowdfunding, it wouldn’t be worth noting much more beyond that, but the community that funded and helped create this project brings special consideration. As a fairly small but incredibly devoted fandom, furries managed to get this project funded to an impressive degree. The specific appeal to that audience likely meant that potential backers from outside the community would have been alienated to a certain extent, though the announcement of famous Youtube stars Egoraptor and Maximillion Dood getting involved added a more mainstream appeal.
Everything seemed slated to bring a little more positive public recognition to furries in the already crowded world of internet subcultures, but now its failure will be a major red flag for anyone looking to back a campaign created by the fandom in the future. By being the only major example of a game created specifically to appeal to that group, rather than just let crossover appeal bring them in, it puts furry gaming campaigns at a 100% failure rate and will likely mean we won’t see anything else like it for a while.
Whether that means that the fandom isn’t big enough to handle a project like this, or simply that it fell into the wrong hands remains to be seen, and likely won’t be answered for a long time. It’s disappointing to see crowdfunding fail this hard in any situation, but especially so when funded by such a devoted group that I’m sure really wanted this to happen.