Game Producer Quest, Part 17

So late last week, Kotaku ran a story regarding Richard Garriott aka Lord British, creator of the Ultima series, wanting to develop a new RPG called Shroud of the Avatar.

I actually have never played any of the Ultima games, but my commentary comes from a bit of confusion and concern over the project, specifically over how the project will be funded.  By and large, Richard Garriott is a multi-millionaire, and unless there’s something I’m unaware of, he hasn’t squandered his wealth like some famous pro athletes that come to mind (former Celtic Antoine Walker immediately comes to mind.)

So why does he need run a Kickstarter campaign to fund this project?  Why isn’t he investing his own money into something he purportedly loves?  Being a multi-millionaire, it’s not like he would be dead broke if he did so, unless there’s something we don’t know.  Also, the amount he’s asking for makes me wonder as well.  The goal is $1,000,000, which after Kickstarter fees will probably be closer to around $700,000 to $750,000.  Still, that is a vast sum of money, which again makes me wonder why a rich man is uncomfortable playing with his own money to produce a game he loves, but is more than comfortable playing with the money of others to do so?  And let’s say that he no longer is rich; that much of his wealth has been depleted for a variety of reasons.  That doesn’t make things better in my mind.  If this is the case, one could argue who is at fault, but I find that argument tenuous at best.  Unless someone or a group of people literally stole nearly all his wealth from him, he has to be held at least somewhat accountable for the state of his own personal finances, simply because we all are in the end.  In this event, the question in my mind then becomes: why would I want a man who mismanaged his own personal finances to manage my money on this project?

To be fair, the project does intrigue me.  It looks like it can be a lot of fun, if the project goes through.  However, the amount of money he’s asking for is offsetting, and not everything Garriott has done in the past has been successful, such as the currently dead-MMO Tabula Rasa.  A part of me wonders if he’s out of touch with the current game industry, and aware that by-and-large while passionate, gamers are not made of money.  Then again, I’ve been wrong before.  As of this date, the project is just shy of $900,000.  With 22 days left in the fundraiser, there is very little question in my mind that the project will be successfully funded.  If that’s not a vote of confidence that the project will be completed successfully, I don’t know what is.

Despite my misgivings on money management and not having been a past fan of the Ultima series, enough information has been divulged on the Kickstarter page to pique my interest and have me make a donation to the cause.  Of all the Kickstarter projects I have backed, this easily makes me the most nervous as to whether I’ll see a return on my investment.  It’ll definitely be interesting to see how much fruit this one will bear.

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