clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fig turned away $925,000 of investment on its first crowdfunding campaign

There were a lot of investors looking for a piece of Outer Wilds

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Fig, the crowdfunding platform for games that blends traditional rewards with equity investment, is sharing details on their very first campaign. The team tells Polygon that its 30-day effort on behalf of Mobius Digital's award-winning space exploration game Outer Wilds received $750,000 of investment interest in the first three days.

By the end of the campaign, Fig says, they'd received 20 times more stated investment interest than the developer was prepared to accept.

In their first-of-its-kind campaign, Mobius was asking for $125,000 total with up to $50,000 of that open for investors. Justin Bailey, formerly of developer Double Fine and now CEO at Fig, says he eventually prevailed on the team to accept $75,000 of investment before the campaign closed in mid-September.

In total, Outer Wilds saw participation from more than 1,000 backers, the majority of which chose the rewards-based options, including physical items as well as copies of the game once completed.

Bailey said that after the first three days in which Outer Wilds received so much investment interest, his team made the decision to slam the barn door shut, so to speak, by closing the campaign to any more expressed investment interest. But, just as they went to fasten the latch, another $50,000 of interest came in followed closely by yet another $200,000 of interest in any future campaigns Fig might offer.

That, Bailey said, brings the total expressed investment interest in Fig as a platform to $1 million.

"I think that's amazing," Bailey told Polygon. "The interesting part about this is a lot of people hear 'interest' and they think it's inflated. But actually the opposite is true.

"We actually capped people [on our website] to only being able to express up to $50,000 of interest ... but what we actually accumulated was, from 80-plus investors, over $800,000 of interest in Outer Wilds itself."

What that clearly shows is that there is a great amount of untapped capital waiting to flow into the independent games industry. Even more surprising, Bailey said, is where that money is coming from.

"Looking through [our potential investor's] backgrounds," Bailey said, "the majority are people who had a background in games and are people you would actually want to be your investors. They were like people in key places in the game industry."

Bear in mind that this is all before Fig opens up the investment side of their model to unaccredited investors. Their goal is to democratize video games investment and offer equity stakes to anyone off the street, not just high-net-worth individuals. The only thing standing in their way is a fairly arcane set of Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

So when will Joe Gamer be able to put up some money and invest in a game? Soon, Bailey said.

So when will Joe Gamer be able to put up some money and invest in a game?

"We’re just making sure that we’ve thought of every angle and that we’re taking every consideration as far as legal compliance and doing the right things financially," Bailey told Polygon. "It’s just something you want to get right rather than fast. ... It’s still on track to happen, and unfortunately I can’t give a date but I can say it’s happening soon."

For its first campaign, Fig took a five percent fee on all the rewards-based money brought in. In addition, Mobius Digital agreed to give five percent of each game's sales to Fig in perpetuity. In the future, Bailey said, that number could move between 2.5 percent on the low end up to five percent.

For accredited equity investors, the terms on Outer Wild were a little different.

Fig explained it as follows: On a $50,000 investment, the investors will receive 15 percent of gross receipts from the game until they get their principal back, and then 10 percent until they achieve a 25 percent return — a total of $62,500. Then investors receive five percent thereafter in perpetuity. Terms will change from campaign to campaign.

The reason for perpetuity, Fig explained, is so there's upside for investors in the case of an acquisition — like what happened when Oculus VR was purchased by Facebook, cutting many Kickstarter backers out of the profit.

Fig's next campaign will start later this month, and be for a new intellectual property from 5th Cell, makers of the Scribblenauts franchise.

Recently, independent developer Harmonix, makers of the Guitar Hero franchise, joined Fig. They placed their chief creative officer Alex Rigopulos on Fig's advisory board, where he sits alongside Feargus Urquhart (Obsidian Entertainment), Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment) and Tim Schafer (Double Fine). All four of the advisory board member's companies have said they would launch titles through Fig.

So what will be Fig's financial agreement with, say, Harmonix or Obsidian? And under what terms will investors be able to get a piece of those new titles? Bailey wasn't able to say yet.

"I think it’s fair to say that there are transparencies in the model, and we’ll be able to discuss that later."

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.