On 13th June Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night finished its Kickstarter campaign with a final total of $5,545,991 raised. Not only was this, by some distance, the most ever raised by a video game on Kickstarter but it was the first time a video game had ever broken the $5 million barrier and only the second video game to ever raise more than $4 million. A gothic, exploration-focused action platformer in the ‘metroidvania’ genre
The huge success of Bloodstained remains quite a surprise – well at least it does to me. A target goal of $500,000 seemed quite risky considering Kickstarter video game projects seemed to have peaked in 2012 and 2013 (in part due to a few high-profile let downs) and the low level pledge amounts seemed too with $28 needed for a digital version and $60 needed for a physical copy. More worryingly the campaign itself still seemed to be at a very early stage with just a rough plot, some music samples and a few pieces of concept art – with no actual in-game graphics at all. The whole thing was topped off with a quite amaterish-looking video from project lead Koji Igarashi.
However the fact that Koji Igarashi (or IGA to his fans) was involved at all was the key factor. With a heavy involvement in Castlevania games since the late 1990s he widely seen as a godfather of the genre, to the extent that similar games are often labelled as being in the ‘IGAvania’ mould. This huge fan base quickly rallied to the cause and the pledges began to flood in despite the relatively high costs, with the rewards in the hundreds and even thousands of pound ranges being snapped up.
Crucially IGA was also joined in the campaign by several experienced individuals from previous Castlevania series, and had the full support of Inti Creates who had been responsible for releasing over 30 games on eight different platforms,
IGA and his team also knew how to capitalise on this enthusiasm with plenty of fan interaction including Q&A sessions, live Twitch streams, fan art and music remix contributions and even a Reddit AMA. Further coverage was also made across Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram with social media achievements regularly unlocked as further followers and contributions were made.
This social media achievements built on the numerous stretch goals that were unlocked as the money raised continued to increase with new game modes promised, the services of voice actors (including David Hayter), a second then a third playable character added, the inclusion of a prequel mini-fame, support for asynchronous multiplayer and finally even secured versions of the game for Wii U and PS Vita.
While I still have some doubts due to the lack of solid gameplay footage, the track record of those involved and huge amounts of money involved mean Bloodstained has no excuse not to be a top-notch game. However that mountain of money could be a double-edged sword as it also brings pressure and extreme scrutiny. Hopefully IGA and his team can rise to the challenge.
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