From a small fighting game title cut from a big publisher’s funds to a cult classic, Skullgirls Encore has gone through some rough patches to get to where it is today.
Independent game development studio Lab Zero was created by the original Skullgirls team after their separation from Reverge Labs. Skullgirls is a fighting game consisting of all female characters. It combined an anime visual storyline about a cursed heart with hardcore fighting game mechanics which allowed Skullgirls to be a hit in the anime scene and with the MKX champ Sonic Fox.
Because of reasons unknown, Konami decided to no longer continue work on Skullgirls which resulted in the above separation from Reverge Labs. Due to litigation, game production company Autumn games couldn’t financially support Lab Zero despite wanting to. Lab Zero decided to reach out to their fans for help. On February 25, 2013, Lab Zero set up an Indiegogo page for Skullgirls in an effort to raise $150,000 for the development of the game’s first dlc character, Squigly.
In less than 24 hours, Lab Zero met their goal and began to add extra dlc characters to encourage more donations. By end of the campaign, Lab Zero’s indiegogo campaign managed to raise nearly $830,000 dollars. This funding has spawned dlc characters Squigly, Big Band, Eliza, Beowulf, and Robo Fortune.
Around the same time Lab Zero began getting underway with expanding Skullgirls, Autumn Games managed to sever ties with Konami thus allowing them to assist Lab Zero with their plight. Again for reasons unknown, Konami demanded Skullgirls be taken off of the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.
Lab Zero and Autumn Games decided to rename Skullgirls to Skullgirls Encore and was able to make it available on the Playstation Network and Xbox live arcade.
So to sum it up, Lab Zero has released dlc characters Squigly in February 2014, Big Band in April 2014, Eliza in October 2014, Beowulf in April of 2015 and Robo-Fortune in June 2015. They have managed to make a new dlc character, Fukua, for free, created a myriad of new stages, composed new music for the stages, greatly expanded the original story mode in the game, added and altered the characters fighting commands, and have since added voiced story modes for all of the characters.What was it that Lab Zero did so well in their campaign? For starters lets look into their Indiegogo page.
Lab Zero created an animated video which explained their campaign intent and the mechanics of their first dlc character Squigly. The video was humorous but didn’t detract from the general message. Below the video, the campaign is further explained and also animated.
The animations in both the video and the pictures in the text document create likability and credibility. A viewer not to keen on data and statistics could understand why the campaign was important from the animations while more analytical individuals could understand why the campaign was important from the data and statistics provided. Those source factors were crucial to the campaign because if you’re going to ask someone for money you might as well tell them what it’s for and how it will be spent.
In an attempt to further reach their contributors and fans, Lab Zero started a twitch channel in which to stream the content of Skullgirls as it was being worked on. This was huge among Skullgirls fans because Lab Zero had taken gamers and put them behind the scenes of game development. The ones creating the game and the ones playing the game were the same, or at least similar.
As of this article being written, Lab Zero is still successful with Skullgirls Second encore as a result of that crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. Another fighting game which has walked in similar footsteps is the My Little Pony inspired fighting game “>Them’s Fighting Herds developed by Mane6. I enjoy stories like these because they reiterate the positive benefits of crowdfunding despite failures like Mighty Number 9. While I wish Lab Zero the best in their newest venture Indivisible, there is a part of me that is really eager to see a third encore using characters that didn’t win the dlc contest.