On January 14th Gas Powered Games launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new action role playing game called Wildman — and just a few days later the studio was hit with "substantial" layoffs. Now the studio is using that misfortune as a selling point for its crowd funding campaign. In a video update, a visibly emotional Chris Taylor, Gas Powered's founder, explained the reasoning behind the layoffs and their timing. "If I ran this team through the entire Kickstarter campaign and it fails to fund," he said, "then I have to let everyone go, shut the company down, no one gets any unpaid PTO or severance, or anything. And that, I decided, was not worth it." Fighting back tears, Taylor went on to ask the Kickstarter community to help make the decision as to whether to continue the campaign and potentially hire back the laid off employees should it succeed, or shut it down completely.
"We're all in on this."
"Vote with your comments, and we'll tabulate them," he explained, though no deadline was given for when a decision will be made. While the layoffs may come as a surprise to some, the studio — which was founded in 1998 and is well regarded thanks to series like Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander — hasn't been shy about its shaky financial footing. "We're all in on this," Taylor told Gamasutra when the campaign launched. "We spent all the last dough that we've had, and the last several months working on it. So we're betting the company on it." As of this writing Wildman has managed to raise less than $250,000 of its $1.1 million goal. But if successful, there's a good chance we will see this kind of emotional ploy become a new crowd funding tactic as game developers and others attempt to find new ways to make the most out of Kickstarter.