Richard Garriott on Shroud of the Avatar: “If this didn’t work, I actually thought this literally could be the end of my career.”
MCV — a UK publication about the Market for Computer & Video Games — spoke with Richard Garriott at Gamescom. The Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar creator was remarkably frank with them about the degree to which Portalarium’s future — and his own future as a game designer — depended upon the success of the Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter campaign:
Ultima creator Richard Garriott has said that his four-plus decades of working in the games industry would have come to an end had the crowdfunding campaign for Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues failed to hit its target.
“When we started down the crowdfunding path, I looked at it with great trepidation,” Garriott told us. “If crowdfunding didn’t work, my ability to go back to a big publisher and say: ‘help, back me building the spiritual successor to Ultima’ when the community wouldn’t support it, when I was taking it directly to them, would go way down.
“If this didn’t work, I actually thought this literally could be the end of my career. At least for making the thing I really want to make.”
He also left open the possibility of working with a publisher in the future:
“Once we prove that this works, they might want to come in. We’ve talked to big publishers about doing this and they weren’t interested because it didn’t fit the formula. If this is successful, then they’ll want to talk to us.”
I think it was reported elsewhere — possibly also based on a quote from Garriott himself — that at the time the Kickstarter launched, Portalarium had only a few months of operating budget left in its coffers; the crowdfunding campaign really was a Hail Mary play to not only finance development of Shroud, but to keep the company as a whole alive and kicking.
Fortunately, that all worked out rather well; the game has since gone on to raise nearly $10 million from its backers. But at least for a while, Portalarium was on the knife’s edge, as it were.