So, let’s talk about Fig.
No, I don’t mean the delicious, scrumptious fruit that I pick every fig season. I mean the Not-Kickstarter crowdfunding site that is partially run by everyone’s favorite scam artist, Tim Schafer, the man who believes 1+1+40 equals 50.
So what’s with Fig? Well, apparently they have a new game up for crowdfunding. This game, which was recently completely funded, goes by the name of Wasteland 3. Now, I’ve never played a Wasteland game. However, I am aware that it was the predecessor to the Fallout games, particularly 1 and 2. Wasteland 3 managed to pull together 16,104 backers at of the moment I write this article, crowdfunding $3,003,764. That is insane, especially considering how untrustworthy this website is.
“What makes this website so untrustworthy?” you may ask. Well, according to their website, when you invest money into a game funded by Fig, you receive Fig Game Shares. Now, when the game sells and makes a profit, it gets distributed as follows, a portion goes to the developer, a portion goes into the company, and a portion is given to the investor. That seems simple enough, right?
Well, no. See, in order to be secured that you’ll get back what you put in, there’s a number of different rules. In order to make sure you get the money back from the investment, you must be:
Either an Accredited Investor (as defined under the US Securities Act of 1933 or an eligible non-US investor under rule 902 of the Securities Act of 1933.
The site also admits to “contain[ing] ‘forward-looking statements, looking statements’ which are not guaranteed”. Because, as we all know, just because the site says you can get back what you put in doesn’t mean there should be some asterisk with a disclaimer or something on it. You know, something to show that they aren’t the rotten figs they are. No, they have to hide it in Arial 11 font at the bottom of the screen (as seen in the picture down below), far away from the attractive, hopeful messages of being a successful investor.
Want more? We all enjoy the big reveals, don’t we? So what’s the final nail in the coffin? Well, in order for investors of Psychonauts 2 to receive any kind of profit, the game must sell, get this, 2 million copies. Furthermore, not just 2 million copies, but 2 million copies at a retail price of $60. Within the first two months following Metal Gear Solid 5’s release, the price dropped down to $45 in my area. According to Gamespot, by October of 2015, it sold five million shipments. At this moment, Metal Gear Solid 5 sits at a pretty $30. So, in fairness, a big AAA title should be able to handle this, no problem, as it would take MGSV one month to successfully pull this off.
However, this isn’t Metal Gear that we’re talking about here. This is Double Fine. Double Fine is an indie studio…AndiIn the course of its lifetime, Psychonauts 1 sold 1.7 million copies, and let me tell you it definitely did not remain $60 since 2005. As of now, Psychonauts is worth $9.99. Nevertheless, let’s give the next game the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say Psychonauts 2 does come out at a full $60. Let’s say that on the first day, all 24,109 backers buy the game with their own money. We’ll be extremely generous and say that seven times the number of backers pay for the game while the game is $60. That’s 168,763 customers with a total revenue of $10,125,780. So, great, the game hypothetically made back it’s backers’ money three times over. However, it still has to sell more copies in order to make enough so that they have to pay back their investors, at least the ones that are qualified by the rules listed previously.
Now, let’s assume that from here that the number of sales stays steady for the rest of its life, and with it comes a steady price drop because games don’t retain their initial price tag. We’ll say the game sells 2,000,000 copies total by the end of the first year after its release. We’ll go with MGSV’s example since it’s a game that has retained its price very well. So, by the end of the following second month, the price game down to $45 dollars. If we keep sales steady for it and it makes roughly the same sales per month, that’s 15,342 copies a month it sells until the year following its release. Once the second month passes, that’s $15 dollars a copy they are losing due to the price drop over time. So you have to add-on to the already established year-long timespan.
Then in March, roughly the time MGSV dropped again, the price becomes $30 a copy. Now that’s $30 a copy they are losing in profits. Sure they’re making money, but slower and slower every day. Let’s say that for the rest of the time, the game does well. Let´s say that the game stays at $30 per new copy. Well, now a new problem arises. Pre-owned copies. Developers do not make money from pre-owned games. Let’s estimate that in order to save seven bucks on a new copy of Psychonauts 2, 1/3 of the audience, a huge benefit of the doubt, to be sure, goes pre-owned. Now they only profit from 10,228 copies per month. I could go on and on, but, in essence, it would take Psychonauts 2 would essentially take 344 months, or 29 years to make that money back.
Of course, this doesn’t include Steam and its influence. However, on Steam, Psychonauts 1 only sold 430,141 units straight up. The vast majority of its sales came from the Humble Bundle and Humble Store sales (totaling 759,487 units bundled with other games, or on its own), where it sold for significantly less, if any at all. In fact, it sold best on consoles and retail PC copies, with 474,845, and since Steam has sales as often as it does, it’s hard to tell how much money Psychonauts 1 actually made. Assuming Steam sells better than consoles (considering pre-owned not being an option), we can estimate that, if Steam does better than consoles by the numbers, it would take 119 months or around 10 years. Simply put, it´s an incredibly long time to get any payment back. It’s important to note that this calculation is only completely correct if you don’t calculate the cut the story takes from each game or the money that goes into taxes. So, realistically, it’d be much longer than that.
In short, investing in Fig is the worst financial decision you could possibly make. You will never make money back, even if you are an Accredited Investor. Fair enough, not everyone is looking to make money back, sure. I mean, some people just want the game which they support to get the funding it needs. That’s fine. However, shady practices are shady practices, and it is important to point them out. Now, those numbers are specifically for Psyconauts, and it could be a completely different story for any other game. Nevertheless, let’s be honest, given the number of units Psychonauts 1 sold in its lifetime. It’s nothing impressive. A lot of the Steam units were bought through them being included in other packages, or were bought when they were on sale and were never played. It’s clear when you pop open the gameplay stats and see only 47.5% of people got past the tutorial.
Honestly, I feel bad for the investors, moreover, I feel bad for the fans. Some actually think they might get paid back for their investment, when, in reality, they’ll have to wait so long, and it’s only assured if you are a millionaire investor (quite literally a requirement to be an Accredited Investor). Considering what Tim Schafer did with Broken Age, running out of money after gaining $3.3 million after asking for $44,000, having to release half a game in order to make enough to finish it, it wouldn’t surprise me if Psychonauts 2 went through the same problem. Fig is not a company to be trusted with your money, now or ever. It’s full of shady practices and run by dishonorable people in an untrustworthy company. For more information, I recommend you watch Dangerous Analysis’ video on Fig. It’s very impressive and talks a lot more on the subject.
And with that said, what´s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
I am not a fan of Tim Schafer, Double Fine, or Fig. I may hold bias against these parties due to their practices. I have never played a Double Fine game before. I hold no bias against crowdfunding games or other parties/industries.
Sources and resources:
The Gaming Ground
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