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KickStarter Fig - a new equity-based crowdfunding platform - shut down, RIP

Infinitron

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What if Kickstarter let you profit from a game's success? Fig found a way, launches today

Mobius_20Board.0.jpg


Justin Bailey, formerly of developer Double Fine, is launching a new crowdfunding solution for game developers. Called Fig, the service will offer rewards-based funding alongside equity investment. Fig's advisory board will include Feargus Urquhart, Brian Fargo and Tim Schafer.

Fig's first campaign, which was sent live moments ago, is for the 2015 Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards' Seamus McNally Grand Prize winning Outer Wilds, now in production by Mobius Digital, the independent studio founded by Masi Oka, known to fans of NBC's Heroes and Heroes Reborn as Hiro Nakumura.

Polygon sat down with the entire Fig team, as well as Oka, to find out more about this new Kickstarter competitor, one that's been custom-built to fund video games.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Bailey tells Polygon that Fig's name was inspired by Hotel Figueroa, whose Moroccan-themed bar and pool area has become the social hub for the games industry at E3. He hopes the funding platform he's helped to build will become just as vital to bringing the gaming community together.

At first glance, Fig looks a lot like Valve's Steam storefront. It's been designed with games in mind, prioritizing the kind of information that crowdfunding service Kickstarter hasn't always been good at communicating. Videos live alongside screenshots in a carousel, and a unique slider lets game developers show off what stage of development their project is in clearly and concisely.



fig_logo_full_word.png





Near the bottom of the page, Bailey says that traditional crowdfunding reward tiers will be available, including t-shirts and the like as well as digital and/or physical copies of games once completed. But in addition to these rewards-based options, accredited investors will also be able to dig a little deeper into the site and purchase actual equity in game.

In the coming months, Bailey says, anyone with cash on hand will be able to get a piece of the action — no accreditation required. Their reward? A cut of the game's earnings upon release.

"You get a percentage of the revenue share," Bailey said. "That’s going to be called out pretty concisely on the page. The terms are static. We have lead investors that are involved. ... They work out the deal terms that they’re investing in, and the people investing alongside them get to do it on the same terms.

Investment%20Fig%20Jpeg.jpg



"We’re only able to do accredited investors for the first few campaigns. It means that you have to have more than $1 million of net assets. We have to verify that. But we have plans in the coming months to open this up to everybody."
THANKS, OBAMA
Brian Fargo, who has three successful Kickstarter campaigns to his credit (including the alread-released Wasteland 2), sits on Fig's advisory board. He says the service will be a game changer.

"If you look at Kickstarter," Fargo said, "I never saw it coming four years ago. I never would have dreamed we’d have an opportunity to go direct to our audience and say, hey, help us fund these great projects. Now, with equity ... it’s not unreasonable to think these things might start going $10, $15 or even $20 million. Now we can make a different class of product."

The main reason Fig is able to allow for the sale of equity is because of the passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, also known as the JOBS Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in April of 2012.

"It’s kind of a huge deal," Fargo told Polygon, "because in the past, only accredited investors could do this kind of thing. Now the average person can start to invest, not just in video games, but in a whole host of things.

"This wouldn’t be as exciting a story, to me, if it were only accredited investors. The fact is that anybody can get in. Especially people who don’t know a lot about the stock market, but do know a lot about games. They have a sense of it, so they can invest money in something where they have more of a comfort level."

Fig itself has taken on partners to bring its service to life. It received seed funding fromSpark Capital, a venture capital firm that's played a key role in funding Oculus VR, Twitter and Slack.

Fig's own revenue model is simple. As Bailey explained it to Polygon last week, Fig will get five percent of all the money raised through the service, and five percent of each game's sales in perpetuity.

BABY STEPS
The other key to making Fig successful is not to flood the market, so to speak, with equity crowdfunding opportunities. Part of what makes Kickstarter so challenging, Bailey said, was the sheer volume of projects going live on the service every day. With Fig, there will only ever be one or two campaigns live at any time. It will be up to the advisory board to pick them.

Urquhart, Fargo and Schafer will each be spending time and energy to vet Fig projects ahead of time. Only then will they be allowed to go live on the service. Additionally, all three of their companies — Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Double Fine Productions — will use Fig to fund future titles.

"Justin [Bailey] left Double Fine to startup Fig," Schafer told Polygon. His Broken Age andMassive Chalicecampaigns were both successfully completed on Kickstarter. "We've been talking ever since.

"I wanted to do more with crowdfunding, and have it grow not just to be a novelty or something for very, very tiny games but instead something that’s a legitimate way to fund larger-size games. 'Triple-I' you might call them."

Schafer says that equity was something he wanted to offer even to his earliest backers on Kickstarter, but laws and that company's business model prevented him. Fig intends to solve that problem, and Schafer is excited about its prospects.

"If [Outer Wilds] turns into the next billion-dollar game, the people who helped to make it happen should be able to participate in that."



Screenshot_2015-08-17_20.32.47.0.png

Masi Oka with members of Team Outer Wilds, now at Mobius Digital.


More importantly, Schafer hopes that bringing in investors will help increase the amount of money that goes into making independent games.

"I’ve felt that, even the more successful [Kickstarter] campaigns, they feel like they have hit this plateau," Schafer said. "Maybe the $5 million mark or a little bit higher is the cap, but I feel like it could go higher. And I think this kind of uncaps that."

CHANGING THE RELATIONSHIP
But won't turning game players into game investors fundamentally change the nature of the relationship between an independent game and its backers? Schafer doesn't think so.

"Whether you’re backing or you’re an investor," he said, "we’re still making the game for you. That's one of the greatest thing about crowdfunding. You’re left not worrying about what an independent third party who financed your game thinks about your game. You’re just worrying about the people who are actually going to be playing your game think about the game, because they actually funded it. And now they’re investing in it, so they might have a higher interest in the profitability of it than before, but they still want a great game."

Likewise, Fig's founder and CEO Justin Bailey said that even in the Kickstarter campaigns he participated in at Double Fine, the backers who put the most money forward were generally the least disruptive to the development process.

"We didn’t know what to expect from people who were giving us $1,000 or more for Broken Age and for Massive Chalice," Bailey said. "In the end, those people were the least entitled people. They were the ones that had the most trust in the studio. A lot of them were actually former developers who’d become successful. The ones that weren’t were just rich people who were passionate about those games. They didn’t expect to have creative control.

"The reason why they were coming in and providing that money was because they trusted so much the creative control brought by the developer. We love getting our community involved in these games, but it’s community-informed. I don’t think you want a community-designed game."

What Fig promises to its participants is that they will always remain in control of their intellectual property. Neither the lead investors, the backers or the equity investors will be able to tell them what to do with their game.

The same rules apply, Brian Fargo said, in the stock market: "You can go buy some Apple shares, but good luck getting them to do what you like. It’s no different here."

THE FINAL FRONTIER
Fig's first campaign, live on the site right now, is for a game called Outer Wilds. You might remember it from this year's Game Developers Conference, where it won the grand prize at the IGF Awards. So then how did Masi Oka get involved? Turns out that before he was an actor, he was a programmer.

Oka originally came to the entertainment industry creating code for Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on all of the Star Wars movies — including the prequels and the re-releases. Only later in his career was he cast as Hiro Nakamura, one of the original members of NBC's Heroes. In the intervening years he's remained a working actor. Polygon spoke with him on his way to the set of Hawaii Five-0 where he plays coroner Max Bergman.

In his spare time, Oka launched a game studio called Mobius Digital.

"When I was trying to build my team at Mobius," Oka told Polygon, "I was trying to figure out who I should hire, and I got invited to the USC Interactive Media and Games demo day. and I went there an I was just blown away by the caliber of stuff that people were doing, but in particular Outer Wilds.

"I loved the tone of it. It was just right up my alley."

In Outer Wilds, players have 20 minutes to explore a completely foreign galaxy before its sun goes supernova. They relive the same final moments of that dying game world over and over again, building on their knowledge of the secret systems hidden within it. The exploration puzzle game has a quirky art style, and a melodic theme composed for banjo.

Oka was so taken by Outer Wilds, and the skill of the team behind it, that be began to hire them on one at a time at Mobius.

"We built the company from there," Oka said. "And while we were working on a couple of mobile titles, they won the IGF award."

Outer Wilds will be the team's first non-mobile game, and their first crowdfunded game. But Oka isn't intimidated by Fig's new unproven funding model.

"It’s one of those unique platforms that gives developers the creative control that we need, in terms of owning the intellectual property and shepherding the game how we want it," he said. "There are things that Kickstarter can’t do that Fig does. It’s so tailored specifically for the games market. We can set milestones, and we have a development blog that we can tap into."

Oka is also inspired by the clout of the people on the advisory board — Schafer, Urquhart and Fargo.

"It’s because these people are giants of gaming. It allows them to tailor the site and tailor the experience to what users would expect," Oka said. "So, I think that yes it’s unproven and there's new technology, but the concept is there and the opportunity behind it makes it worth a try."

Kz3r0
 
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Infinitron

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The other key to making Fig successful is not to flood the market, so to speak, with equity crowdfunding opportunities. Part of what makes Kickstarter so challenging, Bailey said, was the sheer volume of projects going live on the service every day. With Fig, there will only ever be one or two campaigns live at any time. It will be up to the advisory board to pick them.

Urquhart, Fargo and Schafer will each be spending time and energy to vet Fig projects ahead of time. Only then will they be allowed to go live on the service. Additionally, all three of their companies — Obsidian Entertainment, inXile Entertainment and Double Fine Productions — will use Fig to fund future titles.

Huge news. So this is what the "incline cartel" has been up to, eh?
 

mindx2

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Well here's the press release I received:

Key Info on Fig

- What is Fig: the FIRST video game only funding platform

o Rewards & Investment: Fig offers both rewards (like Kickstarter) and investment

o The first campaign or two will offer investment for accredited investors only, but once approved via the SEC, Fig plans to make investment financing available for everyone.

- The Team: Fig’s CEO and advisors and investors are all long-time gaming industry veterans who felt that developers weren’t served by the options currently available

o CEO Justin Bailey has 10 years of leadership experience in the gaming space, most recently as the COO of Double Fine

o Industry leaders Brian Fargo (CEO inXile), Feargus Urquhart (CEO Obsidian) and Tim Schafer (CEO Double Fine) are board members, and their role will be to curate, select and advise campaigners to best help shine a light on undiscovered games

- Campaigns: Fig will offer one campaign at a time, alternating between established well known iii developer like Obsidian, inXile, Double Fine and other unannounced devs and one title from an up-and-coming developer.

o iii video games only (iii is a new term and is the indie equivilient of AAA games from a big publisher)

- Developers: The goal will be to help developers in the funding, development and distribution during the game’s lifecycle.


Key Info – Outer Wilds

- Mobius Digital: Outer Wilds is developed by the star of TV’s Heroes Masi Oka (Mobius Digital)

- Origin: Started as a college thesis project (Alex Beachum – creator of Outer Wilds)

- Awards: winner of the 2015 IGF Award’s Grand Prize.

- Platform: PC Version (for now)

- Gameplay: Groundhog Day (repeat each day) meets Star Trek (explore strange new worlds)

o An adventure exploration game where you have 20-minutes to live before the sun goes supernova.

o Explore strange new worlds, learn and apply learnings to each new life.

o Try to solve and prevent the sun from going supernova.

- Funding Goal: $125K


Fig: the New Crowdfunding Platform for Gamers


CEO Justin Bailey brings together industry veterans Tim Schafer, Feargus Urquhart and Brian Fargo to re-invent how games get funded


SAN FRANCISCO, August 18, 2015– Today Fig announces the launch of its funding platform, which provides developers a new way for their games to be financed and produced. Fig is the first platform targeted solely at video games that offers reward-based crowdfunding as well as access to investment crowdfunding. Fig’s aim is to provide a curated experience that strikes a balance between titles from well-known independent studios and ones from up-and-coming indie teams. Investment crowdfunding is currently limited to accredited investors only, butpursuant to a recent regulatory development,Fig plans to open up investment opportunitiesto everyone in the near future.


“Games are one of the leading sectors in rewards-based crowdfunding and continue to evolve the whole medium; Fig’s approach is to customize our platform to what works best for games,” said Justin Bailey, CEO of Fig. “This includes supporting investment crowdfunding where the fans have the opportunity to participate in the financial success of the games they help make possible.”

Fig received seed funding for its launch from Spark Capital, a top-tier venture capital firm that has invested in many leading creative companies including Oculus, Twitter and Slack.

Fig’s advisory board – Urquhart, Fargo, and Schafer – who have created some of the most successful rewards crowdfunding campaigns and game launches, will participate in the pitch process and mentoring of the developers using the platform. They will also be using Fig to fund future titles from their studios Obsidian Entertainment,inXileEntertainment and Double Fine Productions.

“Feargus, Tim and I have all experienced the many challenges of bringing our games to market and nurturing great talent along the way,” said Brian Fargo, CEO ofinXile. “We’re proud to be creating an ecosystem that better supports developers and their fans in the quest to bring their passion projects to life—and we believe Fig will become the best option to get games funded in the future.”

For Fig, funding is just the start - plans are in place to support developers through the entire life cycle of their games. The company has already started filling its pipeline with prospective titles for 2015.

Fig’s first campaign,Outer Wilds, won the 2015 Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards Grand Prize and Excellence in Design. Created by AlexBeachum, the title will be developed byMasiOka’s (ofHeroes’andHawaii-Five-Ofame) Mobius Digital studio.Outer Wilds’funding goal of $125,000 will give the team the tools to upgrade the artwork, polish the game systems, and bring much more content to the experience. For more information onOuter Wildsor to contribute, clickhere.

“We’re excited about this opportunity because, as indie developers, creative control and IP ownership are critical,” saidMasiOka. “Having a crowdfunding platform specifically targeted to games also allows us to reach and focus our marketing to the gaming community."

About Fig

As the only funding platform created by gamers for gamers that offers reward, equity, and debt-based funding, Fig empowers developers and passionate fans alike to bring well-known franchises and undiscovered indie titles to market. Fig was founded by Justin Bailey, Freeman White, and BobIppolitoand was established from a coalition of independent game developers including Tim Schafer,FeargusUrquhart and Brian Fargo. For more information, visitwww.Fig.coand follow us onwww.twitter.com/playfigandwww.facebook.com/playfig. Interested in funding on Fig? Send your pitch topitches@fig.co.

About Mobius Digital

Mobius Digital is an independent game studio located in downtown Los Angeles dedicated to making unique and creative games that challenge a wide audience. Founded byMasiOka ofHeroes’ fame, Mobius Digital released its first game, the cooperative storytelling gameOur Superhero, for iOS in 2014. They subsequently released puzzle RPGTerra Chromafor iOS and Android, and space adventure gameBeacon 38is due out on both platforms in late August. The studio is excited to move from mobile platforms to PC & Mac by completingOuter Wilds, the 2015 Independent Games Festival Award recipient for both the Grand Prize and Excellence in Design.

Disclosures:

1. Fig’s investment crowdfunding model provides an opportunity for eligible investors to participate in the potential success of a particular game title by investing in a production company created exclusively for that title. Fig’s production company holds exclusive distribution rights to the title, while the developer retains the title’s IP rights.

2. Rewards campaigns are available to all, but investments are only available to accredited investors who understand and can afford the risks of investing in private securities.
 

Zed

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Schafer can suck my balls and I'm not touching anything he or anyone from doublefine will profit from.

This is a fucking shit website too. The layout is fucking shit. It looks cramped as hell.

I hope it crashes and burns, even if it means Obsidian getting canned as well. Fuck this and fuck off, motherfuckers.
 

Kz3r0

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To say that I am skeptical is an understatement.
This whole equities for all has scam written all over it.
All in all is just an attempt to bypass publishers once again.
There are two main problems, Kickstarter is still the most popular and successful crowdfunding platform, and usually crowdfunded games don't sell that well in general, basically even if a project get funded it can't generate enough profit for both the developers and the investors.
And sincerely, if I want to invest in videogames I will do it directly not through some platform that eats away five percent of all the revenues forever, this is doomed to fail.
 
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28.8bps Modem

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I have to wonder... did they actually consult lawyers before starting this? Because this sounds like it's tantamount to advertising and selling shares in a privately held company, which is very illegal.
 
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What kind of shit page is this? Where can I browse projects? Where is the RPG/Shooter/Adventure/Gametype section?
I don't care if there are 0 projects, but I expect at least a barebone structure to search projects. Nothing there.
 

Aeschylus

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What kind of shit page is this? Where can I browse projects? Where is the RPG/Shooter/Adventure/Gametype section?
I don't care if there are 0 projects, but I expect at least a barebone structure to search projects. Nothing there.
It's explicitly stated that there will only ever be 1-2 projects at a time.

Well, it seems like a better system than Kickstarter, though that isn't saying a whole lot. It'll need a few very big-name projects to take off though.
 

Duraframe300

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Yeah, my suspicision senses are tingeling with Schafer on board of this. After what happened to Broken Age and DF-9 as well as him insulting tons of people that grew up loving his games I just don't care about that prick.

Also yeah, legally this smells like a scam.

Which makes InXile and Obsidian being on board with this so much more.
 

Raghar

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If I understand it properly, normal people would give money, but they would rip off developers as normal companies. With crazy idea of investing 10 bucks would give them 20 back...

I'm not sure if I'd wouldn't call it a felony. We had Joowood already, and other shady companies, now we would have crowfunding shady company. At least with kickstarter it was openly losing proposition for people who gave money.
 
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bylam

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So three "indies" who struggled to attract publishers have come together to form a publisher?
 

Athelas

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Campaigns: Fig will offer one campaign at a time, alternating between established well known iii developer like Obsidian, inXile, Double Fine and other unannounced devs and one title from an up-and-coming developer
wat

Does this mean there's gonna be bimonthly Kickstarters of InXile/Double Fine/Obsidian or am I reading it wrong?

iii video games only (iii is a new term and is the indie equivilient of AAA games from a big publisher)
lol

CEO Justin Bailey has 10 years of leadership experience in the gaming space, most recently as the COO of Double Fine
Bankruptcy within six months confirmed.
 

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wat

Does this mean there's gonna be bimonthly Kickstarters of InXile/Double Fine/Obsidian or am I reading it wrong?

lol

I think they don't mean "alternating" in the literal sense. More like "we'll have some of these and some of those".
 

28.8bps Modem

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Oh, OK. So it's Kickstarter for Joe Public, but accredited investors can actually get equity. Well, that's a load of bollocks then.

I don't get it. If actual people with millions in liquid assets sitting around wanted to fund your whatever, then why wouldn't they just fund it and skip the step of giving some bullshit website a cut? If you're relying on the public to fund you, then Kickstarter already exists. It's not technically illegal, it's just pointless and stupid.
 

Athelas

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I think they don't mean "alternating" in the literal sense. More like "we'll have some of these and some of those".
Oh, you're right. Not sure why I interpreted it so literally.

I guess we'll be seeing a new Double Fine or Obsidian kickstarter soon, unless this thing turns out to be a major failure.
 

Infinitron

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Oh, OK. So it's Kickstarter for Joe Public, but accredited investors can actually get equity. Well, that's a load of bollocks then.

I don't get it. If actual people with millions in liquid assets sitting around wanted to fund your whatever, then why wouldn't they just fund it and skip the step of giving some bullshit website a cut? If you're relying on the public to fund you, then Kickstarter already exists. It's not technically illegal, it's just pointless and stupid.

I don't know about the equity part, but I can tell you from what I've heard that from a usability perspective, Kickstarter is a huge pain in the ass that has gone too long without serious competition. You can't modify your tiers, the update posting interface rivals (maybe exceeds) the RPG Codex front page for crappiness, etc.

If what they really wanted all this time is to launch their own better crowdfunding platform with the equity stuff as an added bonus to make it seem more "sexy", then hey, why not.
 

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