Precursor Games' efforts to raise money to fund the creation of a spiritual sequel to the 2002 survival horror game, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, is driven by a crowdfunding system that collects "donations" up front that may be used for things other than game development, according to the site's terms of service.
The pledge system, which is managed directly by Precursor Games and collects money through PayPal, includes a number of specific conditions outlined in the site's terms of service including the fact that all money given to the studio are "strictly donations and are not consideration for any services or product," and that donations will be accepted immediately upon receipt, unlike Kickstarter, which only accepts funds if a funding goal is reached.
"A donation cannot be cancelled or returned once it has been completed, whether or not Precursor Games completes the game or fulfills the specified reward," it reads.
The website's FAQ states that the financial goal is a "flexible one" and "if it becomes apparent that we cannot raise enough to develop this project then we will refund all pledges."
The studio isn't using Kickstarter because, according to the game's FAQ, "Kickstarter is only open to companies that have a U.S. or U.K. presence," and Precursor is based in Canada.
Funds pledged will be used to fund a game that will be released in episodes that will likely be two to four hours in length, according to Precursor CEO Paul Caporicci.
Speaking to Polygon, Caporicci said the reason the studio decided to make Shadow of the Eternals episodic was because of the advantages it offers the development team.
"It enables us to get something out to the fans and the community for feedback much quicker," he said. "In the past, you'd work on a game for a couple of years, put it out, see what people think, then you work on a sequel for a couple of years. It's such a long feedback loop. Now we can do it so much quicker. I feel like we're going to be able to make better improvements to it."
Caporicci said that the studio is "shooting for two to four hours per episode," with all episodes connecting to tell an overarching story. The current plan is to sell each episode for $5, which Caporicci believes makes it a much more sustainable business model that traditional game development.
"We're shooting for $5 an episode here — we feel that is a much more sustainable way to make this game."
"I actually think it's less risky because, with a full-title game, you're investing so much in it, whereas with an episodic game, you're working in smaller chunks and a smaller price point — we're shooting for $5 an episode here — we feel that is a much more sustainable way to make this game."
The studio's core team currently consists of seven developers, a number that Caporicci says will increase depending on how development goes. If the game's crowdfunding goal of $1.5 million is met, Precursor is aiming to release the pilot episode in Q3 of 2014. The timing of subsequent episodes is yet to be determined.
Precursor Games launched the crowdfunding campaign for Shadow of the Eternals earlier this week. The IP for Eternal Darkness belongs to Nintendo, which is why Shadow of the Eternals is a spiritual successor as opposed to a direct sequel.
The studio was founded last summer by a number of former Silicon Knights employees, including Silicon Knights founder Denis Dyack. While Caporicci says that the two studios have no connection, Precursor Games did purchase art assets, desks, chairs and computers from Silicon Knights around the time the team left that studio.
Silicon Knights is currently appealing a $4.5 million judgement connected to its suit against Epic Games.