Mike Wilson: ‘Gambitious to save crowdfunding for games’

Almost two decades after he helped id Software launch Doom, Mike Wilson is taking on Kickstarter.

Hot on the heels of recent high-profile Kickstarter successes (and failures) comes Gambitious. The first crowdfunding platform exclusively intended for game projects. The website offers more than just donations in change for rewards. It gives gamers and investors the possibility to really invest money in a game and share in the revenue if the game does well. Industry veteran Mike Wilson tells all.

Why Gambitious?

“Gambitious is the answer to a problem that is really just developing: the inevitable backlash toward crowdfunding done by inexperienced teams often asking for way too little money to actually reach the market – thus the very common 2nd or 3rd ask. Or teams having little or no idea what finishing a game and reaching the marketing on their target platform really means. I truly believe we will lose the opportunity for crowdfunding for games by the end of 2013 if we don’t offer something more professional and more discerning to give gamers and investor types a better chance to see something for their money.”

How is Gambitious different from other crowdfunding sites?

“Well, the most obvious answer is that we focus exclusively on the games industry and are run by a team and advisory board of very experienced game developers, producers, publishers, and marketers. We speak the language and are going to make sure the projects offered on the platform are well-thought out in their business plans and have some real chance at commercial viability.

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson has been a computer and video game executive since 1995. He worked with id Software an ION Storm before setting up Gathering of Developers (GodGames), a developer friendly publisher (later acquired by Take Two Interactive). Years later Wilson founded Gamecock Media Group (later bought by Southpeak Interactive). Wilson now holds a position as partner of Devolver Digital and is founder/partner of Gambitious.

Other than that, ‘under the hood’ Gambitious is very different. At Gamescom we’ll be presenting the world’s only hybrid system for developers. It will enable them to receive pledges/pre-orders from fans as well as equity investments from people looking to invest a little more in return for an actual piece of the project they are backing.”

So every project is going to be checked and judged by a panel?

We are not looking to truly ‘judge’ every title. We just have a more rigorous submission process that forces the developers to present a business plan to people who have been looking at game pitches for years. We don’t pretend to know which titles will be hits or not, but we do want to feel like the team can do what they promise and will have enough money to get to the finish line and get their product released.”

How is the advisory board going to help developers with their projects.

“Just asking the tough questions and forcing developers to actually think through their proposition is most of it. But we will offer additional services as well (‘Production Services’) for those who wish to benefit more directly from our team and our network’s experience. Anything a team might need. Ranging from help with their business plan to budgeting to actual development/outsourcing assistance, marketing/pr strategy. It’s basically an à la carte menu of everything that a developer might need, without forcing things upon them they don’t need, and no infringing on their control of the game or Intellectual Property rights, like they often get with a traditional publishing deal.”

Crowdfunding requires… well a crowd. Are there going to be enough people on Gambitious?

“We are building it, and we do hope and expect that ‘they’ will come!  They being gamers, investors looking for something more interesting to invest in, people who don’t play games but are interested in the industry, you name it. Once we are fully operational on both sides of the Atlantic, we’ll be launching a very large marketing and PR campaign to make sure the crowd knows where to find us. But we also hope and expect that the developers all over the world will steer their fans and networks to us once they realize what an attractive option we are for their fundraising. When you look at our lineup of first projects launching their campaigns at Gamescom, you’ll see that we already offer a very robust lineup with some very successful developers. Games that are well into production alongside very promising indies, such as MiMiMi with ‘Tink’, who have been our test case for our beta phase.”

What’s in it for the investor? What’s in it for Gambitious?

“For the investor, it’s a bit of peace of mind knowing that someone ‘at the wheel’ knows the industry. My partners and I are in this because we believe that crowdfunding is the greatest thing to happen to indies since Shareware in the 90’s and we would absolutely hate to see it crash and burn due to unfulfilled promises and unfinished projects. We want innovation, we want both new and established indies, and even small, progressive publishers to be able to reach their audience and compete in this increasingly difficult and challenging landscape, which is actually full of opportunity for nimble, creative teams if they can just get the funding they need.”

>>This article is published in Control International #9. Read the entire magazine for free online.<<

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Bartelson is a freelance writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of everything Control. He’s been writing about games, internet, movies and music since 1993.

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