Spacebase DF-9 Recoups Investment In Two Weeks

Hi everyone! Earlier this year, we decided to experiment with funding larger projects than we normally do. A typical project for us has been in the range of $50k – $150k. We’ve also funded a few projects for smaller amounts, but never a project the size of Spacebase DF-9.

Spacebase required around $400k to develop, so it would have been unwise for Indie Fund to go it alone. A $400k game in a stable of $50k-$150k games would make for an imbalanced portfolio, and would mean more risk than we were comfortable with.

So we asked some folks we know if they’d be interested in joining this experiment. Indie Fund ended up putting $75k into this project, and Humble Bundle, Hemisphere Games, make all, AppAbove Games, Adam Saltsman, The Behemoth, Morgan Webb, and Rob Reid put in the rest.

Spacebase DF-9 went into open alpha last month and recouped the entire $400k investment two weeks from that date. 85% of the revenue came in via Steam Early Access, and the other 15% via direct sales by Double Fine.

This is an important milestone for us because the success of this experiment opens the door for us to support more projects of this magnitude in the future. To be clear, this won’t affect the number of smaller projects we fund. Our bottleneck has always been finding promising projects to invest in, not lack of funds.

It also provides an encouraging data point about bringing together larger groups of people to support larger projects, and we are mulling over what this might mean for the future of Indie Fund.

Anyway, huge congratulations to Double Fine, JP, and the rest of the Spacebase team for a great lauch! We wish you continued success.

You can get in on the alpha now, either directly from Double Fine or on Steam.

  • Aaron

    Thank you for posting on this subject and in so doing fulfilling your commitment to transparency with respect to the projects you fund.

    You have not yet posted on the subject of Super Splatters. By omission, a reader would surmise that the project has not recouped its investment or given the guys at Spiky Snail autonomy for future development. Is this the case? If so, I think a post discussing how things shook out in terms of expectations versus results would be very helpful and in keeping with your mandate.

  • JFA Jansen

    Congrats! I noticed this game was advertized on twitter as promoted tweet. Any numbers on how succesful that was?

  • icepick37

    That is truly awesome to hear. Good work and good luck to all in the future. :D

  • Anonymous

    Morgan Webb? <3 <3 <3

  • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

    That’s awesome news. Congrats!

  • Alex

    Yeah, out of many indie games out there in need of funding, you choose Double Fine. Fund Ubisoft, I am sure they will appreciate it. I know you are in for business, but indie fund name is not appropriate anymore. And DF-9 alpha sucks, I regret buying it. So many articles about it, but alpha is alpha, this is not a game yet.

    • Tim Bridges

      It’s even more impressive that they recouped all funds with an unfinished game!! Go DF!!!

      • Alex

        That’s just another example that you can sell anything with a lot of PR and marketing. DF got huge publicity at Kickstarter (and their whole history), got millions of dollars, didn’t complete anything yet. I am not impressed. But at the same time, I have no issue with them – they have history of making good games, and their history works for them now. But indie fund giving them money? So many young and inspiring indie teams out there “corporate indie fund” chooses to invest into DF. Meh.

        • liorean

          To be fair, Double Fine has sixty-something employees and their dev teams usually peak out at twelve at their most hectic time – so count on at least five different dev teams being ran simultaneously at any given time. They have developed and released The Cave, Dropchord and most recently Automonous all while Broken Age was still in development, while also starting development on projects Massive Chalice and SpaceBase DF-9 during this time. And that’s only the projects they have made public yet. They have also ported several games to more platforms and made first-time releases to Linux, Mac and even PC of some games that were not on those platforms during that time. Sure, the first game they really got huge publicity for Kickstarting, REDS/DFA/Broken Age is not released yet. But, we know it’s not far from release. Anyone who is actually a backer or slackerbacker has access to quite a lot of information about the development and plans, and I think Double Fine has realised that one of their greatest mistakes about that project was to not make it entirely open, only opening it to actual Kickstarter backers and slackerbackers. Which is why they have been much more open about Massive Chalice and are making that project’s development open independent of whether you kickstarted it or not.

          That is not the story of a developer that has failed to meet expectations or run away with the money without producing what they have gotten our funding for. That is the story of a responsible multi-franchise, multi-dev-team middle-sized developer, doing their stuff in the time it takes to do it while keeping many irons in the fire. They know the cost of being a single-project-at-a-time company and being subject to the whims and economic times of a publisher and not just themselves., which is why they chose to have multiple irons in the fire and why they need indie funding for at least a few of them (who’s to say a mixed funding of both publishers, risk capitalists and indie funding methods isn’t the most balanced way to go?), whether that be through Kickstarter, the Indie Fund or some other funding method.

          Indie funding is about letting the developer get in control of their products and not be slaves to publishers that have narrow target groups and that are ready to cut you off without a second thought, and that want to control the direction your game is going in. Double Fine is a prime example of a good company to give indie funding to – someone that wants to break free of publisher holds and let their games set their own future through quality and openness.

          But that’s the opinion of a real Double Fine fan, of course. So far, I have not seen Double Fine fail to meet any expectations unless those expectations are entirely unreasonable.

          • Alex

            As I said, I have nothing against DF despite falling for the DF-9 alpha and hating it. My point is this: $75k is pennies for DF and don’t mean anything for them pretty much and these $75k would have been a huge help for some of the struggling indies. I thought indie fund was about helping indies making games, and not about giving money to big and established companies.

          • Mackers

            Whilst I agree with the sentiment behind what you are saying, surely there eventually comes a point where their ‘investment’ has to be exactly that, and there is still a point where being able to give it to a company with a proven track record of success and reliability makes sense

          • Anonymous

            Double Fine are independent now though, so even if they have a bigger team than most indie studios, it’s only a fraction of them that worked on Spacebase DF-9. Just because a developer is well-known, doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of an indie fund. It’s a bit of moral relativism to expect indie fund to fund every other struggling indie developer.

          • JohnnyWalker2K1

            FYI – It was a four man team that worked on Spacebase.

        • Anonymous

          What part of “alpha” do you not understand? The term literally means “Its not finished yet”. Wait till its finished, update your steam client, and you’ll get the finished thing. They’ve only just started on it for god sake! Double fine is an indy studio, and it has a record of being a stable investment. The indie-fund isn’t a charity, its an investor pool that just happens to be somewhat risk-taking with artistically interesting indie works.

          Heres the thing, they’ve recouped the costs, and now they’ll be getting a bunch more money back. This is a *win* for all the smaller studios, because it means the investment pool just got larger.

          • JohnnyWalker2K1

            The term “alpha” doesn’t really apply in a game funded by continuing pre-sales.

            If you know anything about software development you’d know that Spacebase’s “alphas” were nothing like normal alphas (which usually don’t have finished artwork or sound effects, and are usually completely unplayable).

  • Alex

    and now they pulled the plug, didn’t keep the promise, skipped whole beta phase and will publish 1.0 final release even tho game didn’t even finish alfa yet.. they changed the dev plan page to fit “new plan” and it seems most of the funding money went to devs paying the office rent which was expensive and funds dried out.. DoubleHorrible screwed their fans..