On Jan. 27, 2014 Square Enix launched the pilot phase of their new community platform, Square Enix Collective. The new program could be a boon to aspiring indie game designers like those from Albuquerque’s Rio Grande International Game Developers Association chapter that participated in the weekend’s Global Game Jam. While the G.G.J. is a worldwide game creation session, the Square Enix Collective offers developers a way to get their creations noticed, funded, and ultimately to bring their gaming projects to market.
The Square Enix Collective allows developers to submit a pitch and if it passes a basic check, it's uploaded onto the website. The community then gets four weeks to provide feedback on the project concepts and demonstrate support for the idea. If that concept resonates with the community Square Enix could then offer to help that idea through crowdfunding with their Indiegogo partnership. This includes a team assessment to give backers a bit more information on what'll be needed for development (tools, expertise, etc.) From there, if the project hits the funding target Square Enix will then support the team throughout development, with advice and guidance. At the end of that process Square Enix will distribute the finished product.
The submission requirements for the Square Enix Collective are that the game be digital only for PC, that the project cannot have been previously crowdsourced, that the project have an appropriate budget, and that the participants are actually be game developers. There is also basic terms and conditions list that must be signed to proceed. While the website is finally live today, there are only three pilot programs currently in the program. Further submissions won’t be accepted until a later date, expected to be in early April.
The three current teams participating in the pilot phase of the Square Enix Collective are presenting three very different game concepts and have varying levels of experience in development. Ruffian Games was established in 2008 and has shipped a number of titles in the past, including Crackdown 2 with Microsoft. Kitfox Games is a new developer, with its first game Shattered Planet set for release this March. Tuque Games, also a new developer, is hoping to launch its very first title via Collective.
Coinciding with Square Enix’s announcement, middleware producer, Havok has posted their first set of tutorial videos for their Project Anarchy game development toolset. While Project Anarchy is a free toolset, it requires a higher skillset to master than many of the 2D development tools and even the freemium Unity 3D. The more advanced programming requirements are a barrier to entry for many aspiring game designers. Havok does recognize their competitive disadvantage in the market and is working towards improving the usability of their program.
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