[dropcap size=big]G[/dropcap]amer’s Edition is one strikingly unique new website on the crowdfunding scene. Rather than opening itself up to many project creators, though, it is a place with one very specific aim – to produce physical limited editions of games which have up until now been exclusive to digital distribution. This means your favorite indie game might potentially get a boxed release! The crowdfunding aspect comes in due to the cost of producing unique, goodie-filled editions. Gamer’s Edition will only manufacture a game if enough folks pledge to purchase one. With a minimum pre-order requirement and 30 day project cycle crowdfunding fans should feel right at home.
Recently we got in touch with Jon Hicks of Gamer’s Edition and asked him a few questions. Take a look and see if it inspires you to “back” either of their current campaigns (Hotline Miami 1 & 2 or Papers, Please).
Cliqist: First, could you please share the pitch you give to folks when first introducing Gamer’s Edition?
Jon Hicks: It’s more or less exactly as it says on the site: we wanted to make collector’s editions for indie games, because we play them just as much, or more than, triple-A blockbusters. By using crowdfunding we can make them without huge up-front costs, and we can work with a game’s fans to make sure that we’re making exactly what the community wants. Everybody wins, and just about everybody we spoke to loved the idea.
Cliqist: When did the idea for Gamer’s Edition first come up? What sorts of obstacles needed to be overcome prior to launch?
Jon Hicks: It’s been in development for around a year. We had to spend a bit of time finding a manufacturing partner, and a lot of time working with them to find ways we can make this sort of item affordably without a huge production run. Creating the site took a while, too – it’s quite an unusual setup so we had to build our own infrastructure.
Cliqist: Why did you select the crowdfunding model instead of a more traditional storefront?
Jon Hicks: The vision for Gamer’s Edition is that we create something unique for every game, rather than just doing something standard like T-shirts or USB sticks. We aren’t building things that can be made in the certain knowledge that they’ll sell. So we need to have some way of knowing that there’s a demand for what we produce. Crowdfunding means that we can make to order, and only when it’s affordable to do so. As gamers are now quite used to things like Kickstarter, it seemed a good fit.
Cliqist: How were Hotline Miami 1 + 2 and Papers, Please selected as the inaugural titles?
Jon Hicks: Devolver were one of the first people we spoke to and they were really keen on the concept, so we decided we’d have something ready in time for the launch of Hotline Miami 2. Papers, Please was a personal favourite, and an incredibly well-regarded game to boot. Lucas Pope has been really supportive of the idea too.
Cliqist: Has the response to Gamer’s Edition met or exceeded your expectations so far?
Jon Hicks: We’ve been blown away by how positive the reception has been – almost everybody who has seen it, likes it. Now we just need to spread the word and make sure that we reach each game’s fans.
Cliqist: Do you believe sites like Gamer’s Edition will become more appealing to gamers as digital distribution grows increasingly prevalent?
Jon Hicks: I think so. I spent years working in print media, and I know that there’s still something special about physical items and that lots of people really value them. I’m a big believer in digital distribution in general – I’m already at the point where having to get off the sofa to put a disc in the console feels like an affront, which is sort of mad – but something like a free wallpaper or digital soundtrack isn’t quite as special as something physical that you can own and cherish as a sign that you care for something.
Cliqist: What is your opinion on the current state of Limited/Collector’s/Special editions for video games?
Jon Hicks: I think there are some great ideas out there, but there’s still a tendency to default to things like steel-cases, keyrings, and art books that are exactly the same size as the DVD box. Indie games have got big by doing things that you don’t find in triple-A, and I think that their merchandise should do the same too. Assuming the creators want it, of course – if a developer wants a close recreation of a traditional box-set, then we’ll make that for them. Although I’ll at least try and suggest we do something a bit different. A robot disguised as a box set perhaps.
Cliqist: What are some of the most-requested games that fans have suggested for a future Gamer’s Edition treatment?
Jon Hicks: It’s been quite a diverse spread, actually, but the current winner is Spelunky. Which I am absolutely on board with, because that is genuinely one of my favourite games of all time. I get twitchy when I miss a Daily Challenge.
Cliqist: Do you have any final comments/appeals to gamers with regard to Gamer’s Edition?
Jon Hicks: Just to ask that everybody checks it out and lets us know what they think. The vision is that we build something that suits the developer and the fans, so if we’re somehow missing something then tell us and we’ll try and fix it. And if you do like it, tell some other people, because we’ve got to cross that order threshold before we can make anything.