Mighty No. 9 is a game based on classic Mega Man games of the 8-bit and 16-bit console eras. Reaching its Kickstarter funding goal on September 2nd, 2013, it ended up being funded with over four hundred percent of the original goal, and was released June 21st, 2016, after numerous delays. The result? A game that many reviews claim is average at best, with Metacritic (at the time of this writing) giving the game between two and a half to three stars (depending on platform) based on twenty-two reviews.
It is one thing to have poor reviews, it is another to spark internet drama, even inadvertently. During a lengthy stream celebrating the game’s launch, Ben Judd, former Capcom producer, translated for Inafune while making his own comments about the game, and along the way, Inafune reportedly said that Mighty No. 9 is “better than nothing.” Sonic the Hedgehog’s official Twitter account took the phrase and poked fun at it, adding fuel to the fire when they said the launch was “better than nothing” with a picture of Sonic shrugging. And thus, on June 21st, 2016, Twitter blew up with drama, users decrying both Sonic Team (who have had their share of disastrous game launches) and Comcept (the company that developed Mighty No. 9).
Inafune, for his part, has owned up to players being upset, saying that because he is the key creator, he will own the responsibility of the game’s problems. According to Inafune (and Judd, translating,) part of Mighty No. 9’s delays and game issues had to do with trying to make versions of it for ten systems at the same time (as of this writing, mobile versions of the game are yet to be released.) As to whether his attention was focused enough on the quality of the game, Inafune and Judd state that the first 70% of production was spent on key creative pieces, and the remaining 30%, used to find bugs and port to other systems, were also being used by Inafune to try and branch out the IP into new directions, like anime and manga.
Mighty No. 9 was one of the most successful Kickstarters relating to games of the last several years, but with a release that could be described as middling, at best, what does this mean for the future of crowdfunded games? Other games funded via Kickstarter or Indiegogo have proven far more successful upon release than Mighty No. 9, such as indie darlings Darkest Dungeon, The Escapists, and Undertale. But for every successful crowdfunded project, there are many others that simply fail to deliver or get delayed indefinitely. Mighty No. 9 may be the first of many games that end up being merely average, or it may be a strange outlier. Regardless, Kickstarter is not a commercial delivery service, and it is, perhaps, games like Mighty No. 9 that will cause potential backers and game developers to rethink crowdfunding strategies in the future.