As Amplitude funding passes $800k, Harmonix explains why it went PlayStation exclusive
In the wake of their success, we talk with Harmonix about why they chose to go with a PlayStation-exclusive platform and whether they might try Kickstarter again in the future.
The Kickstarter for Harmonix's Amplitude just hit its funding goal yesterday, but the developer is still pushing for an online, head-to-head multiplayer stretch goal. Even if it doesn't hit that goal in the next few hours, this new Amplitude for PS3 and PS4 will still include online asynchronous play as well as local multiplayer options.
After doing an exciting, day-long telethon livestream to promote the game the yesterday, Harmonix's director of communications and brand management answered a few questions about Amplitude and Harmonix's first experience with crowdfunding.
GameSpot: Why focus on a game that can't come to PC, Nintendo, and Microsoft platforms?
John Drake: We've been drawn to revisiting the intense awesomeness of Amplitude for a long time -- we just couldn't figure out a way to make the ambitions for the game square with the lack of interest from publishing partners. The idea of crowdfunding was floated in a meeting, and it was a downhill race of excitement inside the studio from that point forward. What if we could make the game that we all had been dreaming of for the fans that have been pleading for it for 12 years without needing the approval of a publisher?
That said, our desire to make Amplitude ourselves and publish it with the help of fans didn't mean that we could just go out and do what we want. Sony published and funded development of the original titles in the early 2000s, and their ownership stake in the franchise is deeper than just the name of the game. So revisiting Amplitude meant we were exclusive to Sony consoles. This definitely gave us pause, as we would have loved to bring the fun of Amplitude to as many platforms as possible, and because Kickstarter is known for its propensity to launch PC-driven experiences.
But at the end of the day, we couldn't shake our desire to make Amplitude. Once it crawled into our studio's consciousness, it was clear that we had to give it a chance to be made. That we had to take the risk that the audience wouldn't be there to fund it because it was exclusive to PlayStation or because the original games hadn't reached as broad an audience as we thought…luckily, the audience showed up and we were fortunate enough to fund the project.
GS: What kept you from taking the route of other companies that have created new games from properties that they originally developed for other publishers (like From Software with Dark Souls and Q Entertainment with Child of Eden)?
JD: As I mentioned, due to the original arrangement with Sony for Frequency and Amplitude, there are a variety of reasons that making a sequel to the 2003 game meant it would be exclusive to Sony platforms. To be direct, just changing the name and altering a bit of the visual style wouldn't have divorced the new title from its predecessor to the degree that we'd be able to bring it to other platforms.
Working alongside Sony, who have been really supportive of our efforts to secure crowdfunding for the title, was our best bet to make Amplitude that both we and the fans want from a dream into a reality.
GS: If this is successful, is Kickstarter something Harmonix might look to again for game funding?
JD: We've succeeded at this point in securing the basic degree of funding, and we've learned a LOT in the process. Kickstarters are inspiring: they connect you directly to an active, engaged, passionate audience that wants to fight to make the game a reality. But they're also stressful, high-risk and exhausting.
The past 18 days have been a whirlwind of self-doubt, concern, surprise and elation -- all played out on a very public stage. If we were to return to crowdfunding again in the future, I think we'd approach it with a very different kind of game, with some different tactics for getting the fans what they want in deciding if they’ll back or not, and with a comprehensive understanding that it is a hard-fought battle to win the hearts, minds and dollars of an audience in this way. We're really fortunate to have amazing players out there, excited to see what our studio is making. We're going to do our damnedest not to let them down with Amplitude.
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