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Learning from Shadowrun Returns' Kickstarter success - Gamasutra


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If you’re not familiar with the name Jordan Weisman, you’re likely familiar with his work.Weisman is co-creator of game franchises such as BattleTech, Heroclix and Shadowrun. A serial entrepreneur with a love for designing games of both the digital and pen-and-paper variety, Weisman has founded companies including FASA Interactive, WizKids, 42 Entertainment, Smith & Tinker, Harebrained Schemes and others.On July 25, Weisman and Harebrained Schemes launched Shadowrun Returns, a Kickstarter RPG that launched as a $400,000 campaign, but ended up at $1.8 million. Weisman said over email that this was the highest-pressure game project of his entire career. But working directly with fans has also made it rewarding.

In our case the deductions were: Kickster and Amazons share, Microsoft’s royalty, the production cost of all the physical rewards (books, t-shirts, boxes, dog tags, etc.), and the cost of picking, packing and shipping all those rewards. When you add all that up it represents over 35 percent of the money raised.At the time of the Kickstarter campaign, the total studio headcount was only 10 people, which would have been fine for the much more modest Shadowrun game that the $400,000 represented, but nowhere near what the team needed to execute the expanded vision. Over the last year we have grown the studio to a total of 35 people, including full-time employees, interns and contractors.Building a team is alchemy. You may convince yourself it’s a science, but it’s really magic. And having to scale a team to over three times its original size while under a very tight timeline and budget was a real high wire act which I would not recommend doing if you can avoid it. Mitch [Gitelman] and I have been running studios for decades and so we should have known better then to attempt it -- but with the quality and dedication of our team members and some luck we pulled it off.

It seems like Kickstarter is now primarily a tool for famous people to raise money from the masses.

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