Back in September of 2011, Ryan Payton quit his job at Microsoft's 343 Industries and formed a small indie team called Camouflaj. Before working at 343, Payton was a driving force at Kojima Productions where he helped to "westernize" parts of Metal Gear games including Metal Gear Solid 4. He then moved over to Microsoft where he helped head up the team behind Halo 4 at the recently formed 343 Industries.
Recently, Payton and his team and Camouflaj started a Kickstarter for their game Republique. The game takes place in a totalitarian world where you speak to a character named Hope through your phone and guide her through levels.
The game looks incredibly impressive, especially by iPhone standards. Camouflaj is even going as far as to motion capture actors and record professional voice acting for the game, which really sets it apart from anything on the app store.
Three weeks into the Kickstarter, Republique is only 16% funded at $81,860 at the time of this post. In comparission, Double Fine's adventure game hit 1 million in under a day. That might not be a fair comparison so lets take a look at another popular Kickstarter, The Banner Saga. The Banner Saga is from a group of guys who aren't exactly house hold names and the game is a pretty niche PC/Mac title. The Banner Saga hit their goal pretty early and made an extra $600,000. All without very much media attention.
Ryan Payton has rubbed elbows with many gaming media outlets and it paid off with tons of coverage on just about every major site, directing folks to the Kickstarter. But even Payton's Metal Gear and Halo attachments couldn't spur funding for the game the way fans flocked to Tim Schafer's entry into an all but dead genre. Lack of attention is not Republique's problem.
Kickstarters tend to receive a majority of their funding during a big rush at the beginning and at the very end. Does Republique still have a shot? Sure it does, but it doesn't seem very likely. Payton has said that Republique will still come out even if the Kickstarter doesn't succeed. But what does this say about the type of games people want on iPhone?
I personally don't care for large games to be played on my phone. About the only game I play on my iPhone these days is Tiny Tower. Phone gaming just doesn't fit into my life, if I'm out I'm usually driving so gaming wouldn't work so well and when I'm home I have many other devices to entertain me. Games like Real Racing and Infinity Blade just don't have a place in my day. That is also why I don't own a 3DS or a Vita, but that's an entirely different post.
Seeing this Kickstarter struggle has shown me that I'm not the only one who has great apathy for "real" games on iPhone. Ryan Payton seems to see a dearth of these large scale games on mobile devices and went so far as to spend his life savings to make one to fill that gap.
People give a lot of shit to the latest trend on the app store. Be it Angry Birds or Draw Something or Words with Friends, but these are the games that work best for the device. Just as much as Tiny Tower wouldn't work on a 60-inch TV, Gears of War does not work on a phone.
It is sad to see something someone is so passionate about not succeed but this might be a wake up call to developers trying to create these big games for mobile. Working within the constraints of a platform might be better than trying to bust out of them.