Here’s why Harebrained Schemes’ second Kickstarter attempt isn’t quite as epic

golemarcanaWhen Jordan Weisman’s Harbrained Schemes first tried to raise money on Kickstarter, the results were ridiculously fantastic. His company raised more than $1.8 million on Kickstarter to revive of the classic Shadowrun role-playing game and develop new versions of the title for tablets and PCs, blowing past the original goal of $400,000.

But funding hasn’t been nearly as easy the second time around on Kickstarter. With five days left on the campaign, Harebrained’s digitally-enhanced board game “Golem Arcana,” is about $150,000 short of its $500,000 goal.

Let’s keep in mind that raising $350,000 for a board game from 1,548 backers on Kickstarter is still pretty damn impressive. And with a late push, raising $500,000 is not out of the question.

But still, it hasn’t caught the fire that Shadowrun Returns did.

Weisman noted a couple of reasons for this. One, Golem Arcana is more expensive than your typical physical tabletop game. Two, it’s a novel way to think about board games — Golem Arcana doesn’t have the history and brand loyalty of something like Shadowrun. The game is very innovative, connecting the tabletop with a Bluetooth-enabled Tabletop Digital Interface Stylus (TDI) to send information wirelessly to a phone or tablet.

jordanweisman

Jordan Weisman speaking at GeekWire’s Startup Day 2012.

“They are two different animals,” Weisman told GeekWire. “Shadowrun is a 25-year-old property with a large installed fan base and our Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter was to bring that game back in a format the fans knew and loved. Golem Arcana is a brand new property and a paradigm shifting format that requires the backers to take a little leap of faith.”

Valid points, indeed. But perhaps the decrease in backers for the game points to what could be the beginning of Kickstarter’s demise. Maybe the crowdfunding platform has hit its peak.

Weisman, a serial entrepreneur known for startups like FASA, Virtual World Entertainment, Wizkids, 42 Entertainment, and Smith & Tinker, doesn’t think so.

Harebrained Schemes' thanks Shadowrun fans last year.

Harebrained Schemes’ thanks Shadowrun fans last year.

“I think the crowdfunding audience is a little more cautious then they were a year ago, but that’s a healthy thing overall and the environment is still very vibrant,” he said. “We are approaching $400,000 in backing which for tabletop is a huge number already so I don’t think there is a problem with the concept or the funding platform.”

He added that projects like Golem Arcana “are a better test of the long term viability of crowdfunding because there are only so many old properties to bring back.”

Weisman refrained from saying what would happen if Golem Arcana doesn’t reach its $500,000 mark.

“We are still very hopeful of reaching our goal and entirely focused on that at the moment,” he said.

Shadowrun Returns, meanwhile, hit the app stores a few weeks ago. You can check out the game on iOS, Android or Steam. Shadowrun is the first multi-million dollar crowdfunded video game to ship after crushing its funding goals nearly 18 months ago.

  • UGE_plex

    Golem Arcana is a serious(ly fun) tabletop game. Having played the demo at GenCon, it wasn’t gimmicky. Gameplay was smooth, progressive, surprisingly quick to just sit down and start playing, and the hardware worked perfectly…without sacrificing deep tactical options that require critical thinking, making for an experience that turned me in to a real fan of the game.

    Our modern games started with chess, then evolved in to tabletop wargames, which then inspired tabletop fantasy RPG’s, from which the first Video Games were developed (You can read about all that in David Ewalts book, “Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It”)

    Now, after centuries of game evolution, and some of the most rapid game mechanics development iteration occurring in the last 30+ years, some of the proven features of video games are being backported to a tabletop game in the form of Golem Arcana. And make no mistake, Golem Arcana is a tabletop game.

    Being able to “Save Game” and have the app remember where your terrain was placed, where your figures were on the terrain, and what their status was, even whose turn it is, for a BOARDGAME is amazing. Being able to Save Game, clean up… and pick back up after dinner, the next day, or the next weekend and jump back in to your game quickly, truly is a boon for todays rapid pace world.

    Golem Arcana may also have Remote Play (though internet is not required to play with friends around a table), for when you get those 2am pangs to jump in to a game.

    Then, there will also be downloadable scenarios, allowing you to set up games based on the rich lore of the world of Golem Arcana, and your games may impact the lore of the world as you choose factions to play, and play against. A living world, a living game, much like an MMO, but played as a family boardgame or a serious tabletop fantasy tournament wargame. Because Golem Arcana scales to both markets easily.

    If Golem Arcana’s funding on Kickstarter is successful, think about where the *technology* of evolving tabletop boardgames will go. The possibilities are endless… AI to play against solo for fun when no one else is around, or to improve your game skills? I think that’s AWESOME! I like the tactile experience of physical boardgames, and Golem Arcana is bringing something new, that truly works, isn’t a gimmick and makes me really excited to play with friends and family, to tabletop gaming, which I think by itself makes backing Golem Arcana on Kickstarter worth doing.

    However, if game style or lore doesn’t suit your fancy, consider the same improvements made to tabletop games in other IP’s, such as MechWarrior, or your favorite fantasy or superheroes tabletop games. A D&D or Shadowrun boardgame that can be saved for continued play with friends next week? That really would be pretty fraggin AWESOME, Chummer!

    But it can only happen if we help Golem Arcana get Kickstarted. So please, Please, PLEASE go to Kickstarter and become a Golem Arcana Backer, and then some time…play with me. ^_^

    -UGEplex

  • guest

    Played it at an open house last week @ 511 S. Boren, and it is seriously fun. Worth checking out.

  • Guest

    Is this the same demise for KS that was predicted a year ago?

  • Luke

    I’m a backer from day 1. I also got a chance to play at a distributor open house a week ago. I didn’t have the same “smooth” experience that others have had, but I think it was due to the miles and miles of play on mock-up pieces (they can only be expected to hold up so long as they are pre-production). I give them the pass on a lot of interface issues as well as this is still an unfinished work. The Micro-dot thing worked very well though – very cool tech!

    My worry is the very high “per backer” number on the campaign (currently over $230). Some would call that a bit fishy but to me, it means that they are getting a small number of well heeled backers, not the kind of broad support that I’m sure they would rather see. It makes me think post KS retail will be challenging for them.

    I’m sure they will make their funding goal – everything I know about Kickstarter and the rock star team over there tells me this. They are working very hard and very effectively – my hats off to them. I also think if there is a team that can make this work post KS, even with their challenges, it’s these guys. Jordan, in addition to his other skills, always seems to surround himself with talented people, and that goes a long way.

  • Coolio Beacon

    I backed SRR and even bought the IPad version. I didn’t back this because it’s a tabletop game. I have no interest in tabletop games at all. Perhaps if you think about it, it’s prolly the most obvious reason not as many people catch on to this project in the first place

  • CapriciousHooligan

    It is hyperbole to say that any one project is an indicator of a downward trend. Shadowrun is a proven IP. Fans had been looking for a new shadowrun game for years. Golem Arcana is new & innovative. Appels & oranges.
    Played Golem Arcana a few times, great game.

  • Christopher W Reed

    Or it could be that people are getting sick of throwing their money at grand promises and getting shit for it. 1.8 mil for SRR… and it is terrible. It’s nowhere near what it should have been with that much backing. It feels like a half fleshed out touch game, and I’ve seen better ones of those for a fraction of the price.

    • Zoe Ambrosine

      Dragonfall is light years better than DMS, and backers got it for free. DMS was rather like the engine demo, and Dragonfall is the real game.