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Harebrained Schemes

Why Shadowrun: Dragonfall sets a good example for crowdfunded games

Posted by Tyler Colp on July 31, 2014 | Jump to 1 comments

Harebrained Schemes’ 2012 Kickstarter campaign for Shadowrun: Returns still sits near the top of the most funded games on the crowdfunding platform.

Now that the RPG has been out for a year, it’s going to release the first expansion, Dragonfall, as a standalone game. Here’s why that’s great news for the future of crowdfunded games.

1. The reviews say it’s better than the base game

It’s one thing to release a crowdfunded game that receives mixed reviews like Shadowrun: Returns, but it’s another to release an expansion that, according to the reviews, fixes all the problems in the base game.

Many critics had problems with the companion characters in the game, the lack of quick-saving, and the linear mission design.


Here’s some quotes from Shadowrun: Dragonfall reviews:

Dragonfall also feels far less linear, with the bulk of the middle act allowing you to take contracts and complete them in any order you wish. I still wouldn’t describe it as free-roaming, but the main hub your team resupplies at in Berlin gives you just enough room to wander that it feels like a real place.”PC Gamer

“Reams of hard-bitten, colourful-but-not-too-colourful dialogue frames all of this, and I found it agreeably, enjoyably pulpy in its take on noir meets fantasy quest. It creates tone rather than distracts from it, and bar a few instances of getting too carried away with itself, the writing seems to understand that it’s essentially working with genre stereotypes.”Rock Paper Shotgun

“Perhaps responding to criticism about linearity in the original installment, most of Dragonfall’s missions can be tackled in any order. More importantly, the runs themselves offer interesting choices – do you get the keys to the elevator through brute force, or talk your way up? Destroy a dangerous computer program, or recklessly set it loose to help you later on? These decisions help to establish the personality of your character, and provide a deeper involvement in the ongoing story. “Game Informer

Shadowrun: Dragonfall sits at a 81 Metacritic score, while Shadowrun: Returns has a 71. Shadowrun: Returns had considerably more reviews than the expansion, but most of them did not give as high of scores.


2. It’s coming out as a standalone game soon

Almost all of the critics were disappointed that for anyone to play Shadowrun: Dragonfall, they would have to pay $14.99 twice: once for the base game and another for the expansion itself.

That will change in September when Harebrained Schemes releases the expansion as a standalone title. More information about it is coming next month, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it the same price as it is now.

Major development on Shadowrun: Returns has been done for a while now. Harebrained Schemes never promised a standalone expansion in its Kickstarter campaign, and yet it still did the extra work to separate it a year after the base game’s release. Not only is it a welcome surprise, especially since all backers who already own the expansion will get it for free, but it’s a smart decision that it didn’t have to do.


3. It represents the benefits of crowdfunding

Developers crowdfund games for the communities, at least in most cases. They avoid the publishers and investors to, instead, make a commitment to passionate fans who are willing to help fund their project.

Many campaigns suggest a constant back-and-forth between developers and players. Shadowrun: Dragonfall shows what it’s like for developers to listen to feedback and deliver results. It followed through on the game it pitched to make for $1.8 million and then gave backers more, and is still supporting the game with patches today.

It’s one of the better examples of a Kickstarter project that exceeded its promises.


1 comment

  • Just wanted to give the guys at hairbrained schemes a big thanks for doing exactly what the article said they did, most of all not forgetting the backers and making it something worth doing.

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