When Kickstarter and IndieGoGo first came onto the scene they were seen by the gaming community as a great alternative to the traditional publishing model. It was an opportunity for developers to connect directly with gamers and to be up front and honest about the kind of content and games that could be made with a crowdfunded budget. Well, over time not every project was as honest as gamers had hoped for, and scams became more and more commonplace, so much so that Kickstarter has seen an obvious drop in funding from the hardcore gaming crowd.
Well, a new player is in town called BrightLocker. It’s headed up by CEO Ruben Cortez who has experience working at Electronic Arts and BioWare, as well as former Sony and NCSoft alum, Mark Rizzo.
BrightLocker has already found some success in getting projects off the ground and they’re continuing to make headway through the industry using a new model that sees gamers getting more involved, pitching ideas and having games made by a professional development team, as outlined over on the official website.
I had an opportunity to ask Ruben Cortez some questions about BrightLocker, and the company’s attempt to bring some integrity back to the crowdfunding sector. You can check out the Q&A below.
Ruben Cortez: Existing crowdfunding platforms simply ask participants to provide cash in exchange for an end product that may never happen. BrightLocker’s unique crowdpublishing concept encourages gamer involvement across the whole process, from submitting original concepts and selecting which get made through to the actual development and launch.
OAG: Over the years Kickstarter has been on a steady decline when it comes to the public financially backing video games. There have been a number of high-profile disappointments that diminished confidence in the platform. Is BrightLocker looking to restore some of that lost confidence from the average consumer, and if so, what are the ways that the company is going about doing that?
Cortez: Yes, we believe BrightLocker can restore confidence in crowdfunding by tackling it in a whole new way. Most importantly, unlike other game funding services, BrightLocker directly uses professional development teams and brings in other funding sources as needed, so gamers know the approved concepts will actually get made. BrightLocker manages the developer relationships as well, holding the developers accountable for delivering what they agree to.
OAG: Square Enix started their Collective a couple of years ago where it helps indie teams identify if their game is worth moving to the crowdfunding stage through community feedback. Most of those games are from teams with an established concept and some sort of groundwork already laid out. It seems like BrightLocker is stripping that process down even more where even if you don’t have a team or a project you can still put the idea out there. Does this mean literally someone with no experience at all could potentially get their game voted through and made?
Cortez: Yes! As an example, our recent season winner Katie_Bug had no previous game experience, but the BrightLocker community decided her game Side Scrolling Pixel Heroine was one of its favorite ideas, and it has subsequently been greenlit for production.
Cortez: Having said that, BrightLocker applies a rigorous evaluation process before gamer-voted ideas are greenlit for production. And subsequently the BrightLocker team brings deep production expertise to ensure that selected ideas are fleshed out and developed to a high, professional standard. So, although the idea creator may have been an ‘industry novice’, the rest of the team involved in bringing the game to fruition most definitely are not!
OAG: One thing that a lot of companies always say in regards to user feedback is that they don’t want the ideas or to even read game concepts because there’s a whole legal minefield to maneuver through regarding that process. How exactly does BrightLocker deal with the submission of ideas and building on that without getting entangled in the copyright web that so many other companies try to avoid?
Cortez: BrightLocker makes its terms very clear. Once a game is selected for production, BrightLocker has license to the idea and rights to develop and publish the game idea. In return, BrightLocker commits to returning a slice of gross profit to the original idea creator, so it’s potentially very profitable for them.
OAG: And in regards to ideas, ownership and payment received for a game… is there perpetuity for the creator or is there a limit on how much they can make over a given time from the project, if it does get made by BrightLocker?
Cortez: Yes, BrightLocker pays a royalty out of all revenue generated from game sales, including in-game transactions, directly to the idea creator. In addition, the idea creator receives a share of ALL additional revenue a game idea may create, including auxiliary rights like movies, TV shows, and merchandise. There is no cap on the amount of revenue share a creator can earn. The better and longer the game sells, the more the idea creator can make.
OAG: For the developers who have been part of the projects that have moved through BrightLocker so far… what’s been their take on the platform and how have they acclimated to this sort of crowdfunding-committee process?
Cortez: BrightLocker currently has a development partnership with Sperasoft and its partner studios. We will be adding additional development studios in the near future. Sperasoft developed BrightLocker’s first title LightEaters, the first game fully integrated with our unique crowdpublishing platform. We successfully launched the game earlier this year.
Cortez: Using BrightLocker provides several advantages for developers. It provides a unique, built in game community they can interact with continuously and closely to socialize and get feedback on their game. They can build support for their product, raise development funds, and utilize our publishing capabilities to launch their game. What’s more, they can utilize our open API tools to maximize their platform to game integration capabilities, deepening the gamer experience and building community support for future product launches.
Of course involving the crowdfunding community in development has to be carefully managed. The BrightLocker platform allows developers to do this in a structured way, for example using ‘guided choices’ where gamers can choose from several options the developer offers.
OAG: So what’s the average size of a project for BrightLocker and what’s the general scope that the platform is aiming to maintain in the foreseeable future? Will games be designed with PC and mobile in mind or will consoles be a part of the equation? Or is it possible we could see something that’s the scale and size of Star Citizen if there are enough backers?
Cortez: BrightLocker is agnostic in terms of which platforms the game ideas are ultimately developed on. The community votes up ideas that they love, and the BrigthLocker team evaluates which platform(s) are most suitable. BrightLocker is building relationships with developers with a wide range of capability that will allow us to develop for Mobile, PC or Console as the winning ideas dictate. Understandably, the first few projects are likely to be Mobile or simple PC titles as we ramp up and build out our processes and teams. There’s no limit to the ultimate scale of games that BrightLocker could deliver.
Huge thanks to BrightLocker’s CEO Ruben Cortez for answering the questions. You can check out BrightLocker right now pitch ideas or vote for content by visiting the official website.