20 great new crowdfunded games

The best publisher-free games coming to your PC

Crowdfunding

When it comes to innovation, PC gamers always get there first. When consoles had cartridges, we had CD-ROMs. When console games started arriving on DVDs, we got them via digital download. And when games began to appear on Kickstarter, we got everything and console gamers got bog-all.

Despite a so-called upsurge in indie gaming on consoles with titles such as Geometry Wars and Limbo, the PC is still the go-to platform for Kickstarter projects. Why? Because we have Steam, because we play games on the same operating system developers program in, and because PC gamers are a unique breed who salivate over new and innovative projects rather than being drip-fed the next CoD title. In fact, Kickstarter is rapidly reinventing the PC as the single best place to be for innovative and interesting games.

Some fairly hefty developers and big names are actively choosing the PC for their new projects. They don't care about how much money a game's going to make for a major publisher who constricts their every move. They just care about making good games for people who care.

Almost every game we looked at for this feature was a PC title first and foremost. Other platforms like iOS, Macs and Android proved to be popular too, but there was little to no mention of either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, probably thanks to the constraints they put on developers.

The fact that people like Peter Molyneux and companies like Obsidian are choosing not to develop games for consoles speaks volumes about the current state of the industry, which values cynical money-grabbing over actually making decent games. Luckily for us, the shackles have been well and truly released, so let's see what the ex-convicts have been creating.

1. Elite: Dangerous

Developer: Frontier Developments
Goal: £1,250,000
Pledges: £1,578,316

Elite Dangerous

Essentially a business management game in a sci-fi guise, 1984's Elite was hugely successful, and its innovative blend of space exploration and trading inspired the likes of Eve Online and Freelancer. It was also one of the first games to use wireframe pseudo-3D graphics and procedurally-generated levels.

The original game fitted into the BBC Micro Model B's mere 22KB of memory, but that didn't stop developers David Braben and Ian Bell packing in eight galaxies with 256 planets each.

The 16-bit sequel, Elite Frontier, contained a model of the entire Milky Way, complete with a staggering 100 billion star systems. It goes without saying that Elite: Dangerous will be pretty damn big, then.

"Imagine what is now possible, squeezing the last drop of performance from modern computers in the way Elite and Frontier did in their days?" writes Braben. The game will be PC-only to start with, and this makes us really rather happy. Not a lot has been shown yet, but the videos of some of the larger-scale ship combat look impressive.

Compared with the somewhat flaky combat Elite fans are used to being hired to protect actual player convoys looks like it's going to be fun. And hey, there's also that full, dynamic, galactic economy for all those business management fans too.

2. Godus

Developer: 22Cans
Goal: $450,000
Pledges: $526,563

Godus

Peter Molyneux's legendary status is well-earned. He single-handedly invented the god genre in 1989 with Populous, and then created a string of hits throughout the 90s: Syndicate, Theme Park, Magic Carpet and Dungeon Keeper. Black & White in 2001 was an interesting concept that failed to live up to its hype, but he returned to form with cartoony RPG Fable.

Last year Molyneux left Microsoft Game Studios, where he served as creative director, to form his own indie company, 22Cans. Its first project, Curiosity, was an intriguing combination of Deal or No Deal and popping bubble wrap, whereas Godus is pitched as a successor to Populous.