UK Markets closed

Elite: Dangerous Secures Kickstarter Funding

(c) Sky News 2013

The inventor of retro video game Elite insists people power can be a match for the gaming industry's big-spending developers.

Nearly 22,000 supporters have pledged £1.3m towards 'Dangerous' - a remake of David Braben's 1980s classic - which will hit shelves next year without a bank loan in sight.

Instead, the money has been raised through Kickstarter - an online funding platform that has generated $350m (£215m) for creative projects since April (Paris: FR0004037125 - news) 2009.

"A long time ago, banks would fund projects like ours," Mr Braben, 49, told Sky News. "Nowadays, there's no chance.

"Publishers are driven by profitability. There hasn't been a game like this for a decade and they tend to be very cautious, preferring games to be like Call of Duty.

"As a result, video games have become a little stale."

The original Elite, released in 1984 on the BBC Micro, had none of the photo-realistic landscapes or life-like characters of modern-day games.

It fitted into 22K of memory - less than a single email today - and comprised little more than a series of dots and lines.

However, its eight galaxies proved popular with gamers and paved the way for Frontier, which featured a model of the entire Milky Way and its billions of star systems, planets and moons - all contained on a single floppy disk.

"Even back then, video games felt like they were stuck in a rut," said Mr Braben, who worked with his university friend Ian Bell on the games.

"You'd have your score, you'd gain an extra life when you got to 10,000 points and the game would only take five minutes to complete.

"We didn't like that. We wanted a game that was different and that took a while to play, so that's what we did."

Mr Braben, from Cambridge (SES: E1:J91U.SI - news) , founded Frontier Developments in 1994, and the studio now employs 235 people in the UK and Canada.

The company turned to Kickstarter last November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) and reached its fundraising goal with two days to spare.

"There is doubtless a nostalgia factor at play here," said Mr Braben. "People remember the original Elite and Frontier games because they were so involving. Players dedicated a huge number of hours to them."

Mr Braben, who is also a trustee for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, admitted that keeping on side the 22,000 people eagerly awaiting the game's arrival in March 2014 is a "huge responsibility".

But asked whether the project can rival chart-topping titles, he said: "The support we've had gives me confidence that we're doing the right thing."