Project Phoenix was an impressive Kickstarter success story, but despite raising ten times more funding than its initial goal, it's still looking at a relatively modest budget for what is a highly ambitious project.
Speaking with Red Bull Games, project creator, director and producer Hiroaki Yura explained how the game is managing to keep its costs down while working with a "dream team" of games industry luminaries including Vaughan Smith (L.A. Noire), Kiyoshi Arai (Final Fantasy XII/XIV), Steffan Unger (Halo 4, Crysis 3), Yumiko Sugihara (Final Fantasy VIII/IX) and Final Fantasy series music composer Nobuo Uematsu.
The key, it seems, is an experimental, unproven business model, at least in the games industry -- and whether or not it succeeds will play an important role in determining the future of similar "all-star" projects of the same ilk.
Yura explained to Red Bull that aside from the 3D modellers on the staff, everyone is working on a royalty basis, meaning that no-one gets paid until the game is actually released. Some budget has been set aside to pay the team's assistants, but everyone else is working on Project Phoenix as a pet project while continuing with their day jobs elsewhere in the industry. When asked if Project Phoenix was a "labor of love" for everyone involved, the answer was an emphatic "yes, very much so." More importantly, he notes that he believes the project is too big to fail.
"If we do fail," he told Red Bull, "everybody's watching, and the caliber of people that are involved it too public. I would say that it's going to be harder to fail because it's a matter of trust, and also about public relations with other clients as well. If they're seen being one of the key responsibilities that failed in this project, then they're likely not to get any jobs afterwards, so yeah, I don't think anyone's going to fail."
Bold words indeed, but Yura appears to be confident enough in how work on Project Phoenix is proceeding -- so much so that he's already started a second, similar campaign known as Project Pegasus, which we can expect to see on Kickstarter soon; Yura claims it is a "much more complicated game" from a totally different genre -- possibly a fighting game, though this is unconfirmed at present -- and will include a similar dream team made up of "the might of the anime world and game development from Japan and the West."