Stormgate studio plans to sell company stock to its players in order to raise marketing funds


Normally when a company “goes public,” it generally means that its executives are beholden to the whims of an investor board that almost exclusively wants to see its stock value rise quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year irrespective of the human cost. Frost Giant, the developer of the multiplayer in-development RTS Stormgate, is going to do things quite a bit differently: it’s going to offer to sell stock to the players instead.

Frost Giant is self-publishing the title, which means it’s trying to avoid what it calls the problems with big publishers that are “laying off hundreds of game workers seemingly every day and making decisions that prioritize near-term profits instead of worker and player happiness.” This also means that it – and the players who donated $2.3M to its Kickstarter – has to eat all of the associated costs of running a game, including advertising, which is where the open investment option for fans comes in to play.

This crowdfunded equity drive is being housed on StartEngine, a platform that grants startups the opportunity to raise capital by offering shares of itself to a wider userbase than a specific investor board or equity firm. Frost Giant is selling pieces of itself for $494, though this isn’t a direct transaction and instead is a reserve, which means players can express their interest in buying those shares at an unspecified point later in the future, and since fans are investing in the studio, they would be earning some portion of profit if Stormgate does well, though Frost Giant would retain a controlling stake in itself.

A follow-up statement from Frost Giant shared to Kotaku further clarifies that the equity being raised will be used for marketing and promotion once early access begins. “[W]e have raised around $35M so far and have dedicated the lion’s share of our funding thus far to hiring a world-class game development team and not on paid promotion,” reads part of its statement. “For marketing, we’ve been relying almost entirely on free word of mouth and sharing our progress with the RTS community to grow public awareness of Stormgate.”

Our Not So Massively columnist Tyler got his hands on Stormgate during its Steam Next Fest beta and found the title to be generally inoffensive but not the “revolution” that Frost Giant claims it’s trying to bring to the RTS genre. Whether that sways one’s decision to buy up shares in the studio behind the game is another matter entirely.

Readers will recall that this type of equity crowdfunding is akin to the type of equity crowdfunding deployed by several MMOs in the past. Richard Garriott’s Shroud of the Avatar company Portalarium ran an equity crowdfunding round through SeedInvest, but its investors were left in the lurch when the company effectively collapsed, and SeedInvest couldn’t even get required statements out of the remains of the studio, let alone money for player investors. Crowfall studio ArtCraft also ran an equity crowdfunding round – through Indiegogo – and of course Crowfall has long since been sold off and shuttered. All of this is to remind readers that investing is just as risky as Kickstarter donations when it comes to the gaming industry, so best not gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.

sources: StartEngine via VG247 and Kotaku
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