The four of us would like to thank everyone who took the time either to support this project or to offer constructive criticism. We have yet to decide whether we'll revisit the idea at some future date...
A number of you have very understandably questioned our ability to generate interest in this project. We certainly got off to a rocky start, and didn't do even a yeoman's job of planning and describing our reward tiers and supported platforms. It's doubly frustrating because so many of you obviously want this to happen, and have been loud and clear in expressing your fondness for Night Trap, in particular, and both Digital Pictures and FMV in general.
There would seem to be three possible ways to explain why only 600+ folks have backed the project so far. One is the above: that the rewards and platforms simply weren't what people wanted, or were't compelling enough, either to fans of the original or to curious folks we managed to lure to the campaign page.
A second possible reason is that there just aren't enough Night Trap aficionados in the world who are still interested in the game. Of the 850,000 or so who bought it from 1992 to 1995, it's conceivable that very few of them actually want an HD version.
The third, and perhaps seemingly obvious, reason is that we did a really lousy job of getting the word out about the project. In our defense we can say that we had a number of publicity opportunities lined up both on TV and in print, but none of them came to fruition. PR is a funny thing: you can do everything right and still not get lucky. And we really struck out in both print and TV media.
As we were scratching our heads, we decided to spend a little money with Comscore on analysis. It turns out that in the first week of the campaign, over 4 million people either landed on or navigated to web pages that contained our press release announcing the project. Go figure.
We're not sure what all this means, but we wanted to share it with you.
We're delighted to be debuting on the front page tonight two terrific bits of fan-generated content: Keithy Huntington's personal NT Revamped video appeal, as well as Phil Cobley's graphic presentation of our reward tiers.
We also wanted to share some conversion data, now that we've topped 500 supporters and have reached 10% of our goal. Of the 16,102 individuals who have viewed our project video (sadly one of the few pieces of quantitative data Kickstarter provides to creators), an impressive 3.18% have made contributions. This seems to be well above average Kickstarter conversion rates that can be publicly discovered, and would be an astounding achievement for any consumer-facing marketing campaign.
Obviously we need to do a better job of attracting a larger audience of potential supporters, and we are hard at work on that. If you have suggestions, please share them with us.
And thanks again to CJ Iwakura for today's live streams of NT and Double Switch plays...
I’ve started seven companies in the past 29 years, so I can drone on and on about the nature of business relationships. But I don’t want to bore you.
That said, I do want to talk about doing business with Nintendo, which obviously is a painful subject for us and — more importantly — something deeply of interest to many of you.
The story begins early in 1991 in Tokyo, where Sony and Nintendo were secretly collaborating on a new video game system that used CDs rather than cartridges as its media. That system would ultimately morph into the PlayStation, and Nintendo would ultimately have nothing to do with it, but at the time it looked as if it were going to happen jointly. Some Sony US execs had earlier seen two games that the four of us had created at Isix, a company funded by the toy company Hasbro, for its never-released NEMO game system: Night Trap and Sewer Shark. Both Sony and Nintendo were convinced they needed to launch this system with a new type of software: full-motion-video interactive movies. And both were convinced we had the perfect two products for that launch. Sony was going to license Sewer Shark; Nintendo would license Night Trap. We labored closely with both companies for over nine months, until the Sony/Nintendo joint-venture fell apart. Sony in turn introduced us to Sega and, in the fall of 1992, Sony released Sewer Shark for the Sega CD, bundled with the hardware; Sega released Night Trap.
We believed we had a terrific relationship with Nintendo — as we continued to have with Sony, and began to have with Sega. We worked very closely with Nintendo, both in Japan and the US, and never requested so much as a dime from them. Instead, they assured us that, as soon as they had a system that could support FMV, we’d be a preferred software publisher for their new platform. To us, this was what business was all about: give and take.
Flash forward a year. In September of 1993, a US Senate committee began doing legwork on a real political plum: violence in video games. Their initial focus was the game Mortal Kombat, published by Acclaim Entertainment for both Sega and Nintendo systems. Nintendo went into overdrive, looking for something to attract attention away from its own problem. Because we had worked with them on Night Trap, Nintendo had full-resolution video of the game, and created a short edit that made the title look shockingly sexist and violent, rather than the silly spoof it was. Through its lobbyists in Washington, Nintendo delivered that edit to members of the committee’s staff, and Night Trap instantly became the lightening rod and poster child for video game violence. The witch hunt was on!
Unless you have ever had the meaty fist of the US Senate slammed directly into your face, you have no idea how horrible that experience is — and not just for the four of us. Every one of our colleagues at Digital Pictures was subjected to ridicule and disgust: parents wondered what sort of company their kids were working at; our landlord tried to throw us out of his building, because the parking lot was constantly mobbed with reporters; our bank canceled our line of credit. I remember getting a call from Rob Fulop, when all this was starting up, asking me how we were going to stop it: his immigrant parents were seeing him portrayed on the evening news as a criminal, condemned by his childhood idol, Captain Kangaroo.
And the worst part was the betrayal: our friend and partner Nintendo, which only two years earlier had been ready to publish the game themselves, now hypocritically pointed a finger at us, to dodge a bullet they knew would hit either them or, better, us. And we had handed them the gun they used to shoot us!
I’m a big believer that business is a contact sport: you play hard, but you help your fallen opponent get up; you don’t kick him in the balls and leave him lying on the field bleeding. That’s what Nintendo did to us. And it’s hard to forget that December.
As some of you have pointed out, this was twenty years ago. Nintendo is a very different company run by very different people. All true.
You are our customers; you are the fans who have asked us to revamp Night Trap. As I have said to every one of the perhaps 2,000 individuals I have hired over the past 29 years, the customer is always right. If you want Night Trap on WiiU, we’ll endeavor to give it to you. And as some of you have pointed out, having a live map on the controller with an HD image on the TV is likely the best way to experience the game.
To that end, today we applied to become WiiU developers and publishers. We obviously have no idea whether Nintendo will approve the title for its platform, and our developer has told us that porting the game to a two-screen experience is going to cost approximately $20,000 beyond what we’re already going to spend for the other four platforms we're supporting. When we get closer to the end of this campaign, if it looks as if we’re going to succeed, we’ll announce a $20,000 stretch goal, and offer $20 downloads via the Nintendo eShop.
This might in fact be a nice way to end twenty years of animosity between two entities who once worked very well together, and we thank all of you for inspiring this soul searching. Never say never…