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Skullgirls fundraiser highlights gap between game budget reality and perception

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Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Developer Lab Zero Games' fundraising drive to add a new character to 2D fighting game Skullgirls is already successful. But the young studio's efforts to raise $150,000 to add one new female fighter to its game incensed some gamers, leading to a charged conversation about the cost of making games.

In just a few days, Skullgirls' Indiegogo campaign has pulled in more than $250,000 in donations. But as a recent report on Giant Bomb highlights, the initial $150,000 target was met with some disdain.

Citing comments in a Joystiq article — "I've overseen whole projects that cost less than that;" "For one character? Even Capcom isn't that greedy" — Giant Bomb magnifies the disparity between what a game or game asset can really cost versus video game fans' perspective.

Similar but more mannerly sentiments were voiced on Polygon. "What really puzzles me is how developing a character for an indie title that already has all the groundwork and mechanics done is going to cost $150k?" commenter Peddie asked.

Skullgirls producer and Lab Zero co-founder Peter Bartholow broke down those costs on the game's Indiegogo campaign, and Giant Bomb's report on the matter has educated breakdowns of costs from fighting game expert/Sony Santa Monica producer Seth Killian and Iron Galaxy's Dave Lang.

"I think a lot of things in game production tend to be a lot more expensive than many people realize," Killian said, offering insight into a subject game developers rarely speak about. Check out Giant Bomb's report for more.

Skullgirls' Indiegogo drive, with 27 days left, continues to climb as the campaign edges ever closer to adding a second downloadable character, Big Band.