Fig: Do We Really Need It?

Gaming culture has been making leaps and bounds as of late in casting off the shackles of the “parents’ basement” stereotype and solidifying its place in the business entertainment industry – Fig, a new Kickstarter-esque platform solely for games, is simply the next small step in that evolution.

Fig does things differently. Along with the usual Kickstarter perks, the website supports buying equity – if the game does well, so do your pockets.

Currently, you need a net worth of a million dollars, but in the coming months, Fig intends to open up the equity buying process to your average Joe. Details of this have yet to be revealed however. This new funding model opens up new avenues for revenue, making it easier for impressive games to get funded – which is only a good thing. But, more importantly, it puts video games forward as a mainstream, feasible investment option, just like any other business.

Previously, there was very little incentive to donate a large chunk of money to a Kickstarter. The people who donated a thousand dollars were often the people who received the worst rewards relevant to their level of investment. This would previously only be done out a selfless act of desire to see a game finished. Now, there is far more incentive to invest large and maybe even make your money back in the process.

In Kickstarter’s attempts to accommodate a broad as possible product range, it sacrificed the ability to really provide what any one project needed. Games are heavily interactive media with a complex development process – Fig clearly understands and caters towards this. It’s the little things, like having multiple videos and pictures, a timeline of where along the development process a game is and a suspiciously Steam-esque design that help make Fig stand out.

Thinking back to Kickstarter in what may perhaps be called its ‘golden age’ a few years ago, there was a lot going on and everyone was excited. A number of successful games were funded and honest hard working indie titles were getting their due. Looking at the gaming tab of the website now, it’s far more reminiscent of the crock pot of crap that is Steam Greenlight. Everything and anything gets on there, and the majority of stuff that does is really rather sub-par. It makes finding a half decent game like finding a needle in a digital haystack.

With a small board of elite developers from the gaming world, Fig fixes this issue by sieveing through applications, only letting a couple of high quality games run at a time. Whilst one could argue this prevents a number of potentially successful games getting off the ground, they still have other platforms if unsuccessful getting onto Fig. I much prefer the concentrated, ‘pre-approved’ approach, knowing that a game is going to be of a certain standard and quality before I start reading about it.

As someone who is only just starting to get game codes from projects I kickstarted years ago, and avidly watches the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, the whole concept is fascinating to me. The whole equity investment option allows those who have a good understanding of the games industry, but not necessarily understand the stock market, to dip their toes in the water in a controlled environment when investing. Beyond that, the games have been vetted to those which have the potential to be successful, minimizing the number of risks and making for a relatively safe investment.

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Joey Relton

Science Communication student blogging about all things science and gaming. Creator of my own mini science journalism empire at Sheffield University, and desperately wanting a Gengar.

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