Mighty No. 9 is a lesson for future Kickstarters


Don’t overcommit

Well, Mighty No. 9has been delayed. Again (Déjà Vu, right)! Even though the aforementioned headline stresses “again,” it would be nearly indistinguishable from the past occurrences. So what’s wrong this time? Well, “online play” of course (if that’s the real reason) — the thing everyone probably could have lived without, and is just now being disclosed a mere two weeks before release. It’s been delayed so many times that there is practically no faith left in the project, which is a shame, as it actually plays well.

The key to what went wrong? Over-promising. The hype train was strong with this one, as Inafune and his team seemingly had a round-table session after the initial Kickstarter fervor and went “how much can we possibly pack into this game? Also, what about a live action movie, anime series, and manga? The sky is the limit!” But there is a limit. Kickstarters have learned time and time again that physical production is much harder than it looks, but the digital side can become overbearing as well.

Right now I’m sifting through what has been promised with Mighty No. 9, and I’m utterly overwhelmed. There’s multiple pre-order bonuses, a physical boxed edition, Beck crossover events with other games, four extra levels (two regular stages, an intro level, and another end stage), New Game Plus, Turbo Mode, a making-of documentary, a boss rush mode, challenge mode, online co-op, a support character, online battle race, an optional retro soundtrack, basically every platform under the sun is getting a release, and there’s all the wacky tie-ins that Inafune wants. There was even talk of possible amiibo support.

When all of that eventually is released, all that content sounds pretty rad! But promising that future delays won’t happen, and then delaying it right before release doesn’t look good. In fact, it hurts your overall image. While his follow-up Kickstarter,Red Ash,didn’t look nearly as inspired as Mighty No. 9, which was the perfect storm at the perfect time by the way (right when sticking it to your former publisher was cool), it’s very clear that confidence in Inafune was shook, especially when funding was pulled from Ashfollowing more bad news about Mighty.

In my mind, Shovel Knightdid it right. People were clamoring for the game for months, it was delayed a few times (openly and honestly too, not carefully timed around the Red AshKickstarter’s closing), and then it was out — and people loved it. It didn’t have all of the functionality that was funded through the campaign itself, but again, Yacht Club Games was open with the community beforehand and said it would be coming later. The physical edition even came later too, after they had the core game completed and shipped. They delivered so far on post-release content with the Plague Knight campaign, and it was pretty damn rad.

I’m really interested to see how Shenmue III, Bloodstained, andYooka-Laylee turn out. So far their campaigns have been pretty upfront with what to expect, and none of them seem to be clamoring for live-action movie deals, so their prospects are probably better than Inafune.