Fringe Theory just isn’t going to make it. Sorry, but it’s more than halfway through its campaign—launched on March 30th –and its only raised $2,337 out of its required $50,000. You read that right, $2,337. And I didn’t miss a zero. At this rate Fringe Theory is on pace to wind up with less than 10% of its goal. Something’s gone, really, really wrong. How did this ambitious project fall so flat?
You certainly can’t blame the visuals. I’ve found what I’ve seen from Fringe Theory so far to be reminiscent of Mafia 3’s art style, a cartoony feel yet also grounded in realism. The first person view seems like the perfect way to navigate your way through the sunny island. The concept is no less intriguing, poignant as well, chronicling the journey of two men suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The implementation of a morale system also caught my eye; not only do you have to keep your character nourished with food, water and shelter, but you’ve got to keep their sanity in check. Christian, the lead director and founder of LionRoar games, explained that this can be accomplished by keeping the character safe at night, whether that involves staying the night in a bunker or close to a fire. The stability of mental health is highly innovative, and is often overlooked by survival games currently out in the market.
So if there aren’t any flagrant issues with gameplay and concept—quite the opposite, in fact—then why aren’t people pitching in? It could very well have to do with LionRoar’s scarce resume. Although their website looks pleasing to the eye, there isn’t much to show off other than a bit of background on the team and Fringe Theory’s trailer. It looks as though Fringe Theory is their very first project, and many out there may want to invest in a studio that already has a game or two under its belt.
There’s also a glaring lack of communication via social media and, to a lesser extent, their Kickstarter page. On Kickstarter, there are but two updates since the campaign’s launch, one regarding Xbox One support and the other introducing a brand new set of backer rewards. There are over 180 comments engaged in a furious discussion regarding the concept of the game as well as methods to promote it via press and social media, but replies from LionRoar are few and far in between. LionRoar’s Twitter has also been out of the loop ever since the campaign launched; it’s a similar story with their Facebook account, which has less than 40 likes (I’d hazard a guess that over half are friends and family) and it’s been relatively inactive for the last two weeks.
Unless money starts raining down from the gods above, Fringe Theory is well on its way to becoming yet another Kickstarter statistic. LionRoar games should take the next two weeks to reach out to their backers so that they can retain them for the next go-around, and remind them that their effort wasn’t in vain. When the campaign is done and dusted, the four developers need to head back to the drawing table and take a serious look at where their campaign went so wrong. If LionRoar spends more effort increasing their web presence and interacting with their supporters, they shouldn’t have a problem raising much more next time out.