GameLaunched is a new service providing an arena for generous folks to donate to game creators. Like Kickstarter but with a twist.

Last February, the gaming world awoke to the power of crowdfunding as Double Fine undertook an ambitious project: reinvigorate a genre that publishers supposedly passed on, the point-and-click adventure. It was a peculiar concept, at least for games, to ask the consumer to fund the project. Roaring support came in response and the business of games crowdfunding was born. Yes, the seemingly kind act of having a platform to support creative projects is an industry, and a growing one at that.

Kickstarter first dominated the scene, but now sites like Indiegogo are making the scene competitive. For some numbers: in Kickstarter’s five years of operation, its community successfully funded 1,476 games for a total of $107 million. In 2012 alone, the company raised seventy-seven percent of that total. Kickstarter’s cut may appear small at five percent–however in a year bringing in $83 million, that equates to a lot of dough. Even more when considering the model is hugely profitable–managing the site’s affairs and the lackluster approval process are minimal costs, meaning the cash skimmed from each successful project is pure profit.

A new site with an ambitious scheme looks to change the industry. GameLaunched, recently out of beta, is one that focuses exclusively on game projects and swirls the process with some simple gamification. For one, backers earn experience to progress through levels, earning gear and other GameLaunched-branded goodies, on top of the prizes guaranteed by the project creators themselves. Two, several personalities have volunteered their time to vote for what funds get featured and to assist those who want to donate but do not know which projects. It is a clever system and one that sets a model for games crowdfunding, should it become as competitive as the rest of the industry.

Co-founder Steve Foley took the time to answer a few questions via email about the site.

GameLaunched is, well, launching officially at a time in the industry when crowdfunding is a legitimate alternative to getting publisher funding. How important is this upheaval to games development and the future of games publishing?

Games in general continue to be a leader in crowdfunding, with that being said, we think [we have] the ability to not only reach the US market but to expose GameLaunched to the international market.  Half of our current website traffic from our original launch has been from international sources.  Game development will continue to be around, and having a platform just for games will cater to them.

Is crowdfunding a serious competitor to the likes of Electronic Arts and Activision, or do the two sides largely serve different audiences?

We believe they serve two different purposes, our focus right now is to serve the indie market, and in comparison to the larger companies, they don’t need crowdfunding to exist.

For prospective partners and backers, the two hotspots right now seem to be Kickstarter and to a lesser degree Indiegogo. Why would a project creator choose GameLaunched over those other services?

This seems to be the biggest questions asked, we don’t want to be another Kickstarter and Indiegogo, yes we are a crowdfunding site, but first and for most [sic], we are about games.  We wanted to put a panel of gaming experts together to help mentor and give advice to campaigns on our site.  That assistance is extremely valuable and is not present on either site today.  Our “gamification” gives user a chance to compete within our site from rewards and have a true gamers [sic] experience.  Last, our Marketplace will offer a chance for developers who get funded on our site to place their game on our Marketplace to get exposure.  Kickstarter always claims their [sic] not a store, but GameLaunched is a site to help developers, not just provide a platform.  In closing, we will work with every campaign to help drive attention to their projects no matter how big we get, that was our original motivation.

The experience system I thought was interesting–backers gain EXP points from donating and receive rewards after reaching certain milestones. For crowdfunding projects is it all about incentivizing potential backers?

Yes, we want to give back to backers that take the time to back a project, and spread the word by sharing the games through their own social networks.  Social media has a huge influence on crowdfunding so the more people help spread the word, the better everyone does, so why not give them something for such a simple gesture.

There are some notable names as part of the site’s foundation, from YouTube game critic Raychul Moore to Destructoid co-founder Yanier Gonzalez. The presence of “experts” to feature the best projects and even offer advice is new to crowdfunding. What would qualify a game to get the added promotion and how is it determined?

Featured projects will begin once GameLaunched has grown in size, each month the Launch Crew members will independently vote on what games should be featured.

One noticeably stressed thing is GameLaunched won’t take its any cut of funds raised unless the goal is reached. Even then, the site’s cut is low at 6%. Is this proper conduct for a crowdfunding site? To put the money in the creator’s hands and take enough only to cover costs?

Our fees are in-line with other sites, and before we launched we asked the fans what would better [sic], flexible funding or fixed funding.  The response was overwhelmingly fixed. Our thoughts are if a platform chooses flexible funding, that project manager might only work so hard to get some funds, while fixed funding hold projects at a much higher standard.

It is difficult to say where the site goes, or if the enhancements on crowdfunding will attract projects or the charitable among us. If you wish to donate, check out the small list of projects, but to grow surely as time passes. Holygrenade is not the first place to cover GameLaunched.

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