When new president Yosuke Matsuda said he was interested in programs like Kickstarter and Steam Early Access, he wasn't kidding. Many were wondering if Square Enix would start putting up proposed games on Kickstarter, but the reality is somewhat different. Square Enix has announced the Collective, a crowd-funding partnership with IndieGogo.
"Collective is a curated platform that enables creators to post ideas, and gamers to judge whether those ideas should become reality or not," reads the site. "Every idea that's successful with the community is checked and helped by Square Enix, while a partnership with world-leading crowdfunding platform Indiegogo enables gamers to then back the ideas they love the most."
Indie developers post ideas, fans vote on them, and then Square Enix picks them up for distribution it seems. The process begins with a project pitch that's vetted to ensure it fits within Square Enix's submission parameters and then it spends 28 days on the Collective feedback platform. If the community likes the idea, then direct funding is done through IndieGogo. Square Enix will help developers with figuring out how much they really need to make their ideas a reality and finding the right tools for the job.
The really cool part, and what I feel is going to be the big draw, is at the end of the Collective page.
"You could have the chance to work with some of the older Eidos IP from our back-catalog," says the site.
It's interesting that Square Enix is opening up its IPs for indie developers to play around with. It's even more interesting that the idea extends only to the company's Western IP. Japanese properties like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger would probably see a huge number of project pitches, but Square Enix seems to want to keep a tight control on those brands.
Overall, it seems to be an odd initiative, because if you have to pitch and crowdfund your idea, why involve Square Enix at all? It feels like Square Enix is trying to bring that traditional publisher role into crowdfunding, which usually allows developers to sidestep all of those issues. The Collective site is also light on information; we currently don't know what kind of control Square Enix will have on games that come through the platform. If Square Enix retain control of your game, this is almost a non-starter for indies. Why do all that work only to lose control of your idea?
I'd be more comfortable if this program allowed developers within Square Enix to pitch their ideas to fans. That would fix one of the issues I feel Square Enix has: developers within the company are forced to keep the larger franchises afloat instead of having a chance to express their creativity. It would let their staff play around with some of the company's dormant products, which could only be a good thing.
More information on the Collective program will be made available at GDC Next, November 5-7 at the LA Convention Center.