Some major changes have taken place within the Square Enix Collective over the past few months. Chief among these was the announcement that, for the foreseeable future, they would no longer be supporting Kickstarter campaigns. Admittedly, only some of the 100+ game pitches that were showcased by the Collective over the last three years ever reached the crowdfunding stage. (And only a fraction of them were officially supported by Square Enix on Kickstarter). But it raises questions over what role the Collective will take going forwards.
Of course, it’s still business as usual in terms of showcasing game pitches. In fact, Square Enix have actually got a bit more hands-on this regard, as detailed in a blog post in December 2016. Rather than letting developers set up their own pitches, Square Enix would accept submissions (i.e. text, images, videos) and create the pitches on their behalf. This in itself was a sensible decision, leading to more presentable pitches. But strangely the blog post also promised “many more Kickstarter campaigns” in 2017.
This outlook changed a few months later, as explained in a February 2017 blog post. Although the suspension of Kickstarter support probably won’t be permanent (they’ve indicated it could resume as early as the end of the year) they were refreshingly honest with the reasons why. The main factor is a lack of resources, as the small team team at the Collective don’t necessarily have enough time to undertake due diligence and then help promote crowdfunding campaigns. More noteworthy was the fact they were considering how useful their support, and the presence of a ‘Collective Approved’ badge, was for these projects. Campaigns like UnDungeon and Shattered performed well – but would they have done so anyway? After all, other titles showcased on the Collective (such as Dungeon of Zaar and Pine) ran successful Kickstarter campaigns on their own.
The Future of the Collective
So where does this leave the Collective? Well, they’re continuing to showcase pitches – some of which look very promising. Fort Triumph in particular caught my eye, with a playable demo that offers a “fantasy XCOM” setting. And like many current pitches, the developers have indicated they plan to run Kickstarter campaigns once they’ve gathered feedback from the Collective community.
Elsewhere the Collective are continuing to publish select titles they had formerly showcased. Oh My Godheads is now available on Steam Early Access, while in March it was confirmed they would also be publishing Children of Zodiarcs. This was shortly followed by the announcements that similar arrangements had also been made for Battalion 1944 and Deadbeat Heroes. But interestingly neither of the latter two titles had previously been showcased by the Collective.
I had hypothesised in a previous article that the releases of Goetia, Halcyon 6 and Moon Hunters might help raise the profile of the Collective in 2016. From my viewpoint that didn’t seem to happen. However 2017 should see the releases of Tokyo Dark and Fear Effect Sedna. While both look promising, the latter will likely generate more media coverage. And while it may too easy to say for certain, their success could influence whether the Square Enix do resume Kickstarter support in the future.