Rather than getting funding from a publisher or venture capitalist, Need for Speed: Shift
developers Slightly Mad Studios' next project will be funded by fans who will have a stake in the game's success.
Racing game C.A.R.S.
will be the first project to use the new funding scheme, dubbed World of Mass Development (WMD), as reported by GamesIndustry.biz
[registration required]. Individuals can buy a "share" in the game for as little as $5, while larger groups and investors can go in for up to $100,000.
The goal, Slightly Mad says, is to raise $5 million to fund a two-year development cycle. The studio then projects $53 million in profit from microtransactions for the free-to-play title -- it will keep 30 percent of those profits and distribute the rest to backers. Supporters will also be able to play the game as it's being built.
Slightly Mad already has plans to use WMD funding scheme for further projects including first-person shooters, adventure and role-playing games. The company is also offering its system up to other developers who might want to use crowdfunding for their titles.
"Traditional development puts developers at the mercy of publishers," Slightly Mad told GI.biz. "The development process offered by WMD shifts the focus back to creating great games that your target audience wants to play, whilst still offering the chance to get proper funding for development and testing."
Many indie developers have experimented with crowdfunding schemes
in the past, though rarely if ever on this scale. Earlier this year, crowdfunding site Kickstarter announced its users had pledged over $1 million to game projects
in the two years since its launch.