KickStarter Crunch Time: Class Of Heroes 2,
Welcome to KickStarter Crunch Time!
Here, I’ll be examining video game KickStarter campaigns that have less than 48 hours to go to try and make their goal. These campaigns are not quite as well known and are in need of some extra help in order to succeed. To start with my first “KickStarter Crunch Time”, I’m going to look at Class of Heroes 2, slated for release on the PSP and PSVita as a digital download title.
Class of Heroes 2 is the sequel to the PSP game Class of Heroes which was released by Atlus back in 2009. It got fairly decent reviews from sites like RPGamer, Destructoid, and GamesRadar, but didn’t make a strong impression on the North American market for one reason or another. However, in Japan, the Class of Heroes series has done very well, spawning 7 titles for the PSP, PS3, and 3DS. Developed by Acquire Corp., the company had been trying to find a new publisher for Class of Heroes 2 in North America since the 2010 GDC.
It was revealed earlier this year, however, that game publisher Gaijinworks had teamed up with developer MonkeyPaw Games to help bring Class of Heroes 2 to the North American market. Gaijinworks was founded by Victor Ireland, the former head of Working Designs, a game publisher best known for bringing multiple Japanese titles to North America such as the critically acclaimed LUNAR series, Arc the Lad, Silhouette Mirage, and more. And MonkeyPaw Games is led by John Greiner, the former head of the North American division of Hudson Entertainment (more commonly known as Hudson Soft). In a surprising, an unexpected move, they also began a KickStarter campaign to try and make a deluxe package of Class of Heroes 2, and add extra features such as English voices, the Japanese audio track from Class of Heroes 2G which was released on the PS3, additional save states, and modified user interface to make it so that the heads up display doesn’t get in the way of artwork, areas, or otherwise.
The game is also supposed to be a big improvement from its predecessor, maintaining the same dungeon-crawling gameplay, à la Wizardry, but with better animations, improved game play mechanics, and so forth. Many of these features can be seen in the trailer video below:
With veteran individuals like Victor Ireland and John Greiner, a successful Japanese game IP, and a goal of $500,000, one might think that this would have been a very successful campaign that would hit the goal in no time.
But it hasn’t worked out that way at all.
As of this writing, the campaign has yet to reach even 20% of its $500,000 goal, and I am very concerned that this might put future releases from Gaijinworks in jeopardy, and hurt their working relations with Japanese developers and publishers. While there have been interviews and podcasts held with news sites like Anime News Network, 1up.com, VGRevolution, and more, this has not seemed to help boost pledges for the Class of Heroes 2 campaign.
So what went wrong? Here are some of my observations that I think have hurt them the most.
1) No video submitted with the campaign at launch. A key component of any KickStarter campaign is a video that explains who they are, what they are trying to do, and why they need to use KickStarter to get the funding that they need. In addition to providing key information to people that might not read all the details on the campaign front page, it also lets people see the faces of the people behind the campaign. This builds a connection that makes the KickStarter backer feel that they are really a part of the campaign and are playing an important role.
A video was later added, but not until about halfway through the campaign. This video, which is the same video posted above, was also not much more than a teaser trailer. It didn’t explain much about the game, it didn’t show the faces of the people behind the campaign, and it didn’t explain why they needed $500,000 for this.
2) No digital download copies available at a reasonable reward tier. The lowest reward tier available that gives the backer a copy of the game is at $59. This is very high when some people might just want a digital-only release through PSN. It might be because of issues with Acquire, Corp. or Sony that prevented them from offering a digital only copy of the game, but if that was the case, then it should have been made clearer. The only real explanation given in the FAQ was that they couldn’t afford to sell the game at that price, and that statement was very confusing. Something tells me that this was not a suitable explanation for most people.
3) The weight of the campaign was not made clear enough. Most people took away that this campaign was just a way to make a deluxe physical pack filled with goodies and swag. The truth was that this campaign was also financing the licensing of the original Japanese voices, to pay for English voices, and to pay staff at MonkeyPaw Games to make additional changes to improve the North American release. By not emphasizing this enough, and pointing out that it’s what the $500,000 would be used for, it gave a very bad impression and turned people away.
And it did turn people! I have seen several negative comments on numerous game sites who felt that Class of Heroes 2 was a poor choice for the KickStarter campaign. Some comments were from people that had never heard or cared for Working Designs and did not know who was behind Gaijinworks or MonkeyPaw Games. The most common misconception I saw were people thinking that the campaign was just for deluxe edition goodies.
Overall, the biggest problem that I feel affected this campaign was that it was treated more as a marketing tool; a way to get attention out for this specific title. What should have been done INSTEAD, was treat the KickStarter campaign with the same seriousness and attention as a dedicated pitch for venture capitalists or even publishers. If they had made things clearer, showed off who they were and why they were doing this, and put more effort into this campaign, then it would have succeeded by now.
There’s still time for this campaign to succeed, but it will take a lot of work, and a lot of pledges. But who knows? It might just make it. Only time will tell.
To learn more and support the KickStarter campaign, feel free to check it out through the widget below: