Henry Smith is insane.
He created Spaceteam, an amazing cooperative shouting game, and then gave it away for free. Yeah, there are some in-app purchases, but they’re basically some bells and whistles that aren’t crucial for progressing in the game, unlike other free-to-play apps that end up nickel-and-diming you so you can keep playing. (Seriously, if you haven’t played Spaceteam yet, go grab it: it’s available on both iOS and Android.)
Now Smith is running a Kickstarter project—but it’s not your typical videogame project. He’s not asking you to chip in $5 or $10 to get a copy of his next game. In fact, the next game he makes, like Spaceteam, will be free. And if he gets his way, so will the one after that. You see, Smith isn’t interested in just getting funding for a game. He’s trying to fund a revolution.
That may seem like an exaggeration but, hey, he’s even got a manifesto. And he makes some great points. The current system of digital games, where the price for an app is 99 cents, means that the creator can’t survive unless a game becomes a viral mega-sensation. Or you get the free-to-play model that plays on addiction (and, let’s face it, often trades fun and innovative gameplay for tedious, repetitive feature-unlocking).
The Spaceteam Admiral’s Club is a pay-what-you-want model. If you like the idea of cool, indie games (particularly those created by the mad genius that is Henry Smith), then kick in a few bucks so that he can continue making games and giving them away. There are some cool bonuses available depending on the reward level you pick—being able to use a custom vocabulary in Spaceteam, for instance, or getting a fully customized version of the game. If the funding is successful, you’ll also get copies of his future games—and so will everyone else.
It’s an ambitious model, and despite the wide popularity of Spaceteam, there’s no guarantee that Smith will hit his goal. (This is actually his second attempt at getting funded.) And that’s kind of sad, because it shows that we’re willing to spend more money on knock-offs and retreads than on truly innovative games.
If you’ve enjoyed Spaceteam, even if you’ve put some money into the upgrades, consider kicking in a few bucks so that Smith can continue to develop games. Because I really want to see what he’s cooking up next.