Help Make Something Awesome
Collective is a curated platform that enables creators to post ideas, and gamers to judge whether those ideas should become reality or not. 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.
GDC Next – More Details Revealed (November 26, 2013)
In October I went to LA to present a session at the inaugural GDC Next, called The Story of Square Enix Collective – the Vision and the Small Print. I thought it was important in these early stages, to clearly outline what we're doing and leave no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding. Following the initial announcement I'd read a few comments online where there is belief in what we're doing, but also a sense of "Where's the catch?" So it was important for me, from the start, to lay all our cards on the table.
During that talk I unveiled a lot more of the detail on how the process will work, outlining the submission parameters, terms and conditions and the business model – all stuff aimed at giving indie devs more information to work with. I also unveiled the first three Eidos IPs that we're opening up for use for submissions as Gex, Fear Effect and Anachronox...
For anyone who wasn't at GDC Next I wanted to share that information with you direct on the site.
So first up, here's the detail on the overall process for the platform.
Developers submit a pitch which we check against submission parameters; if it passes that basic check (more details below), it's uploaded onto the platform. That's when the community gets four weeks to feedback on the project concepts and demonstrate support for an idea – share with friends, and so on. If an idea resonates with the community we could then offer to help that idea through crowdfunding with our Indiegogo partnership, which includes a team assessment that helps to give backers a bit more information on what'll be needed for development – tools, expertise, etc. After that, if the project hits the funding target we'll then support the team through development, with any advice or guidance that might be asked for, while at the end of that process we can then distribute the finished game.
To make sure we provide the best service we can at launch, I also unveiled plans to run a pilot phase first, early in 2014. This would feature two or three projects exclusively while we test the user engagement part of the Collective platform – a great chance for developers interested in getting in early to get the benefit of the community's full attention for the duration of the feedback phase. We haven't yet filled all the pilot phase slots, so if you've got a project you think would work for Collective, get in touch! Otherwise, open submissions are planned to begin once the pilot is finished – around March or April 2014.
If you are thinking of submitting an idea, there are some conditions you need to meet. These are:
- PC only (to begin with, at least)
- Digital only (we're not looking to sell boxed games through Collective)
- Not been through crowdfunding already (to minimise user confusion)
- Crowdfunding-appropriate budget (be realistic about what you think you'll need to ask for)
- You need to lead development (ie you need to be a developer, not just a gamer with a cool idea)
You'll also need to sign up to some terms and conditions – broadly there are some obvious things in there, such as committing that concepts are your own (and not copied), plus that content isn't going to break any laws etc.
But what everybody wants to know is: What does Collective tie you into?
There are two clear routes developers can take with Collective – submitting your own original IP or using one of the Eidos IPs on offer to create your own game.
With this in mind, if you're bringing us your own ideas (ie, your own IP) then we will require you to complete the 28 day feedback process – we don't want to be pulling ideas down after a couple of weeks, so please use that time to interact with the community and make the most of the chance to get momentum behind your game concepts. But once that's done, you're not tied into anything at all, so it's completely your choice... even if we offer you the chance to go through Collective's Indiegogo crowdfund process and distribute, you can decide if you want to proceed, or if you would prefer to take a different route. NO strings.
If you're basing an idea within one of the IPs that we are opening up, it's a little different. First up, we'll need to be okay with the concepts you're introducing – but that's not to say we're looking to limit the scope of creativity. I'm hoping to see lots of new ideas for those IPs... not just sequels or reboots, but genre mash-ups and explorations of those universes that you might have only glimpsed in the original games.
Then, for both routes, if the community supports your idea, we will take that project through the Collective Indiegogo crowdfunding process, and if you hit your target, after development is complete we'll take care of distribution.
So what do we ask in return for all this?
There are two points in the process we'll take some money – but we're determined to minimise the impact this makes, and make sure you walk away with the vast majority of net revenue. Broadly it looks like this:
First of all, if your game comes through the Collective Indiegogo process, we'll ask for 5%* of the total crowdfunds raised. This is to help us cover our costs, and is very close to the amount you'd pay to Indiegogo or payment providers if backers use credit cards.
Secondly, if your game uses our IP, we'll ask for around 10%* of net revenue – ie 10% of the revenue that's left after the sales tax and third-party sales platform royalty is paid (assuming the game is sold on a third-party sales platform). And if we distribute your game, we'll ask for another 10%* of net revenue as well – which means that you get to keep 80%* of the net revenue.
*Please note – these numbers are our starting point, based on numerous discussions with a range of indie dev teams and their feedback. It's possible they'll change if we feel we've got it wrong, but if we do, we'll make that clear (along with a full explanation) on the site.
What does distribution mean in this case? Well, it doesn't mean marketing in the traditional sense... so we won't be putting money into ads, or trailers, or assets. We can introduce you to people who can help with that stuff – but in order to keep our cut as low as possible, we're trying to focus on the areas in which we think we can add the most value.
Specifically, that means some submission QA – compliance, compatibility, that sort of thing (we're working on a final list at the moment), plus getting your game onto the key PC sales platforms, as well as managing the sales process (which is something we have a lot of experience in).
One thing which I am keen on, is that Collective is a community platform and we've changed the scope as we've been talking with developers and I want to keep on evolving Collective to make sure it's working for everyone who is a part of it – so I expect as we work through the pilot phase and through 2014 that Collective will continue to take shape. I want this to be a collaborative platform.
What's the time scale?
We're looking for a few projects to launch as part of the pilot phase I mentioned in mid-January. In return for exclusivity on the platform, we'll use the opportunity to make sure everything's working properly.
Then, once those pilot projects have completed the feedback (and hopefully funding) phases, we'll likely have a few tweaks to make to the platform, then open up submissions wide – that's expected to be around the start of April 2014.
Based on those timings, we would expect the first games coming through Collective to launch – broadly – around April 2015 or so.
Get in touch!
So if you have any questions, please drop me a line. Maybe you have an idea that you'd like to discuss further, or would like us to consider for the pilot phase? Can you help us to spread the word? Would you like to feature Collective (either now, or on an ongoing basis) on your website, blog, etc?
Hope you hear from you soon!