Kickstarter could do more than keep Gas Powered Games' strategy game Wildman afloat — it could save the company itself, CEO Chris Taylor tells Polygon.
"I don't want to make any assumptions at this point, but things look much better, and I think it's still going to be a long road ahead, but we're prepared to work very hard to make this happen," Taylor wrote in an email to Polygon. "And I'm already making phone calls and setting up meetings to talk to key people about coming back, to see the campaign through.
"At least now, everyone has their eyes wide open, no surprises."
Following layoffs at Gas Powered Games and a "grim outlook" on the Kickstarter, Taylor announced via Kickstarter that the project would either continue or end at the behest of its backers. The decision to potentially pull the campaign was the result of advice.
"I called an industry friend to share this news and potentially get some advice," Taylor said. "He felt that I should very seriously consider also shutting down the Kickstarter, as my reputation was at stake in all of this. This had never occurred to me, so I was stumped."
Per encouragement from the same friend, Taylor decided to turn to the backers about whether or not the project should continue.
"I think the Kickstarter has become about saving a company and the game is a distant second."
"It never occurred to me that the industry would rally like it did, and that people would then invest, not only in Wildman, but in helping me to save GPG and the team (in fact, it's probably the other way around, and I think the Kickstarter has become about saving a company and the game is a distant second)," Taylor wrote.
Commenters were spurred on by Taylor's update, which asked backers to cast a vote for or against the project. More than 500 Kickstarter members have responded, with many urging Taylor to continue the campaign.
"I bookmarked Wildman for later, but your sincere attitude and the respect you displayed for both your staff and Kickstarters prompt me to contribute now," wrote Julien, a Kickstarter member. "Make it happen."
"Keep the pledge going," David Anderson, another member, wrote. "You are in a risky position, but if you look at the general trend of how these projects go, their largest support seems to come within the last week of the project."
Other commenters, like Chris Shannon, wrote that they didn't have interest in the title but backed the project "for [Chris Taylor's] spirit."
"We all backed you up for a reason: we wanted Wildman to be."
Yet there are those who seemed puzzled by Taylor's sudden uncertainty, or don't believe that the project should continue.
"We all backed you up for a reason: we wanted Wildman to be," Julien Normandeau wrote. "I would be more than happy if you could continue and you followed a rainbow and found a pot of gold and it magically all went well. We all know this isn't going to happen. For that I say kill your project, and save as many people as you can from bankruptcy."
"When you started the Kickstarter capaign, you did know, the funding money will arrive only when the campaign is complete," Max Chigurh wrote. " ... Maybe you don't know this, but as with the funding of many other Kickstarter projects, it always starts slowly, and when word and videos are spreading, it starts getting more and more. I can't really understand this."
We've emailed Taylor to ask about this and will update accordingly.
Polygon reported previously the project was on track to meet its goal with 28 days left. With 26 days left, according to calculations on Kicktraq, Wildman is trending toward more than $1,200,000, or 109 percent of its goal, with backers contributing about $36,000 daily. Prior to Friday's emotional update by Taylor on Kickstarter, the project was still trending to hit its goal, but just barely, according to Kicktraq statistics at the time.
Bruce Tyson Bjorklund, a Gas Powered Games associate engineer laid off on Jan. 18, wrote on the Kickstarter page that he plans to continue to work for free as a volunteer on the project and that an update on the Kickstarter page will come tomorrow. Wildman will continue to raise funds.
"It's going to be a wild ride," he wrote, "and I'm just so proud to have fans like you guys backing us up!"