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Shadowrun Returns dev has 'spent every penny and more,' counting on audience beyond Kickstarter backers

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Shadowrun Returns developer Harebrained Schemes has "spent every penny and more" of the project's Kickstarter funds, and is hoping for customers beyond those backers, said studio head Jordan Weisman in an interview with GamesIndustry International.

Even though Harebrained pulled in $1.84 million on Kickstarter last April — 459 percent of its $400,000 goal — the studio doesn't have any excess funds lying around. In fact, Weisman said in a blog post last month that after the cost of producing and shipping Kickstarter backer rewards, as well as Amazon and PayPal fees and Microsoft licensing costs, Harebrained has "just under $1.2 million to actually spend on making the game."

"Our hope is that there's a lot more [people interested in the game] than just those 37,000 [Kickstarter backers], because if not then we lose the gamble," Weisman told GamesIndustry International. "We've spent every penny and more that they gave us to make the game; we haven't made any money."

Harebrained is betting that there's a larger audience out there for Shadowrun Returns — people who would be interested in the kind of game that the studio is building, but not at a level at which they would've put their money down in advance to fund it.

"I'm hoping it's not just the nostalgia player, but that there's an underserved market of people who really like depth of story, like depth of tactics," said Weisman. "It is historically considered to be too small of a niche over the last decade to be of interest to major publishers."

Shadowrun Returns is currently scheduled for release on Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android in May or June. Harebrained released the first gameplay footage from the alpha build last week.