Namco Bandai has found a way to capture the spirit of crowdfunding somewhat with a new preorder experiment, taking advantage of a business model that's so far been used by mostly independent developers.
The publisher's North American division has launched a reservation program for its upcoming PlayStation 3 game Ni no Kuni
, allowing consumers to preorder special edition copies online. When enough people put down money, they unlock extra pack-in items, similar to Kickstarter's "stretch goals."
Though crowdfunding has become extremely popular in the last six months amongst game developers looking for fans to support their projects, it's a model that primarily targets independent studios. Major publishers have had few opportunities to take part in the enthusiasm surrounding crowdfunding.
Electronic Arts found a way to hitch its wagon to the trend recently by waiving distribution fees for crowdfunded games
on its download service Origin. And now Namco Bandai has launched its Ninostarter program
(a portmanteau of Ni no Kuni
and Kickstarter) for its niche RPG.
Unlike most crowdfunding projects, Namco Bandai's program doesn't actually call on gamers to fund the Level-5-developed, Studio Ghibli-animated title's production, but it does allow fans to feel more involved in the release of a title by promising rewards for their reservations, and by motivating them to encourage others to participate.