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Fig is trying a new funding model, indie game to be the first guinea pig

Fans will be able to help crowdfund Vagrus — The Riven Realms over time

Fig, the crowdfunding platform launched in 2015, is mixing things up. Now, instead of time-limited, all-or-nothing campaigns, it will allow for open-ended campaigns. The first title to utilize the new Open Access program is a turn-based role-playing game called Vagrus — The Riven Realms.

Open Access, currently in beta, is a play on “early access,” or the practice of selling in-development games at a discount to fund their ongoing creation. Early access success stories like Minecraft and DayZ spawned an entire category of early access games on Steam and elsewhere. In recent years, even AAA titles like Fortnite and the Call of Duty franchise have gone the early access route with certain game modes.

Fig initially launched as a competitor to Kickstarter, offering fans the opportunity to support creators in exchange for rewards like merchandise and game keys. But, thanks to Obama-era financial reforms and years of expensive wrangling with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fig is also able to offer regular consumers the option to invest in and profit from the games they love. Previously all Fig campaigns ran for 30 days on average, with creators receiving a payout only if funding goals were met. Successful efforts included Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, Psychonauts 2, and Phoenix Point.

But many crowdfunding campaigns continue gathering funding well after the initial campaign. The Star Citizen game projects have famously earned hundreds of millions more in revenue by soliciting additional funding on their own custom-built storefront. The same strategy was employed by the team behind Phoenix Point, which now sells access to an early version of its game through its own website. Likewise, Kickstarter campaigns have long offered options for “slacker backers,” consumers who might have missed the original campaign. IndieGoGo also offers sales and pre-sales of items through its website.

Now, Fig is looking to get in on those additional sales by extending its funding timeline beyond 30 days. Open Access campaigns could, in theory at least, run all the way up to a game’s release. The campaign for Vagrus launches today with a rewards-based option only, and may offer investment opportunities at a later date. The estimated release is listed as 2020.

“The traditional crowdfunding structure no longer works for video games,” said Fig founder Justin Bailey today in a press release. “A 30-day campaign isn’t enough time to properly build long lasting awareness for an indie game. As much time as it takes to build a great game, it takes just as long to build a strong community.

“Given the current environment and considering what it takes to create a game that fans are excited to play, we are announcing Open Access. It provides developers with the ability to immediately and positively impact their financial situation, the game’s development cycle and organically sustain awareness growth.”

According to Fig, Open Access will include immediate access to the latest build of the game, and will include free updates throughout the course of development and upon release. All funds will go to the developers right away, rather than at the end of the campaign.

Vagrus is a two-dimensional RPG with turn-based combat. It features a unique, dark fantasy world where players take on the role of a caravan leader trying to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic world. More information can be found on YouTube, and at Fig.co.

The second game to make use of the Open Access model will be Fowers GamesPegleg, a mix of tower defense and pinball. Founded by Tim Fowers, the studio is known for popular board games like Paperback, Burgle Bros, and Fugitive as well as the puzzle game Turning. The campaign launches on May 15.