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Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been a boon for independent comic creators, providing much-needed start-up cash to get their projects off the ground. Similar in scope to the rise of underground comix in the 1960s or the black-and-white boom of the 1980s, it’s changed the game for a number of creators. That’s why recent news that the massive video game publisher Square Enix is partnering with Indiegogo is so interesting.
To briefly summarize: Square Enix is one of the big players in the video-game market, especially in Japan, with titles such as Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider. In the partnership with Indiegogo, the two companies have essentially formed a think tank for independent developers outside of Square Enix to post video game proposals as Indiegogo campaigns. If they’re successful in the crowdfunding stage, they’ll receive marketing and development help from Square Enix to make the projects a reality. Going further, Square Enix even says there’s a possibility that video game developers could pitch projects based on the company’s immense back catalog.
But what does this mean for comics? Imagine if a publisher like Image or IDW Publishing were to partner with a crowdfunding site to offer a direct avenue for publication. Both Image and IDW (along with other, smaller publishers) have already published a number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo success stories, but without direct involvement between the publisher and the crowdfunding. But with crowdfunding essentially providing the seed money for creators to create the project, a partnership similar to the one between Indiegogo and Square Enix could result in the publisher essentially becoming a fulfillment house to get these titles to the public — and increase their overall marketshare in the industry.
One small publisher has already taken a step in that direction: In September the comic news site-turned-publisher ComixMix launched a services arm offering production, marketing and packaging services for crowdfunders. It’s already secured a deal with Indiegogo to curate that crowdfunding site’s comic projects, offering their services as part of a package deal when doing a campaign with that site.