Fundbetter: funding for narrative game projects and interactive fiction

We already offer an internship and an incubation scheme. We’re adding a funding initiative for small narrative game projects.

We’re open-minded on the meaning of ‘narrative’ and ‘game’. So this might include: games with a strong linear storyline; choice-based narratives using Twine or a similar technology; parser-based interactive fiction; strategy games where the choices have a storyful feel; card games where story emerges from the mechanics; or a dozen other things we haven’t thought of.

We particularly like text-centric games. These are often a low-cost, high-leverage way to do something interesting and intelligent with an idea. Text-centric doesn’t mean text-only; but games which involve reading are more our bag.

We’re particularly interested to hear from women applicants, applicants of a black or minority ethnic background, and applicants who are LGBTQIA+.

Why are we doing this? We want to pay our luck forward; we also want to do well by doing good. There’s no one best way to make a narrative game, and we expect to learn from our fundees. We have a distinct house style, but the more insights and perspectives we have access to, the better. We’ve already benefited from – and helped – our incubees and interns by sharing expertise and experience. And, of course, money’s nice.

We’re generally looking to fund projects in the £2K-£20K range. We’ll go consider going higher for an exceptional project, especially if you can get match grant funding or Kickstarter funding.

This is commercial funding, not a grant, so we’re looking to fund projects which will make the funding back (although see below).

The usual deal is

  • we take 50% of the revenue from the project until we get back our initial investment
  • we take 20% of the revenue from then on
  • we get suitable credit/branding in the game

It’s project-based investment, so if we never make back our initial investment, you’re free to get on with your life.

We will consider funding exceptionally interesting low-budget projects with no obvious revenue potential. We’re a business, but we’re serious about the importance of shared perspectives, and we want to help advance the craft. The bar for non-commercial projects is necessarily higher, but if you think you’ve got something extraordinary, give it a shot.

Interested? Send an email to fundbetter@failbettergames.com with this information:

  1. The name of the project in the email’s subject line.
  2. A one-paragraph description of the project.
  3. What have you done so far? If you have notes, a playable build, a prototype, send us links.
  4. Vaguely what the game’s going to look like. This doesn’t have to be a screenshot. It can be a photo of the UI sketched on A4 paper. But we want to know you have a rough idea of the shape of the thing.
  5. How long will the player take to complete one run-through? roughly.
  6. How’s it going to end? It’s OK not to have nailed down the ending; but we need to see you have a good idea of where you’re going.
  7. A minimal business plan, including a plausible guess about how much revenue you’ll earn on which platform. ‘Plausible’ means ‘based on at least two sets of figures for similar projects which weren’t wildly successful.’ (Please tell us what the similar projects were.)
  8. What needs to be done to make the game ready for release? Think in terms of ‘n weeks of work’, not in terms of release date. Think about software licenses, any images or music assets you might need. Don’t forget QA.
  9. What is your greatest fear about the project?
  10. How are you going to promote the game? We may be able to help with this, but you must show us you have thought more about this than ‘I have a Twitter feed’.
  11. What are you planning to do after launch? How will you support and/or extend the game, what’s your backup plan if it doesn’t work well, and what will be your next project?
  12. You and/or your colleagues. Have you made games before? Have you made games together before? What’s your relationship if you’re working with anyone else? (paid freelancers, revenue share, etc.)
  13. The name of your preferred coffee format; the cocktail you like most; your favourite word. If you don’t have dealings with coffee or alcohol, provide only your favourite word. You won’t be penalised.
  14. What are the emotions that people will experience playing this game?
  15. Why do you want to make this game? What is there in it that speaks to you?

We’ll usually give you a ‘no’ or a ‘let’s talk more’ inside a month. We’d prefer to talk to you face to face, but we will consider non-UK projects, so we’ll go with Skype if need be.

Q. How much help can I get with making the game?

We can’t offer training or tuition – we’re looking for people who have a project and the skills and just need a little bit of cash and advice. It would make sense to apply to our internship scheme, though.

Q. Do I keep control of my own IP?

Emphatically yes. We’d consider different arrangements, but that’s how we’d normally work.

Q. Can we talk to someone who’s been through the process?

Here he is.

Q. I’ve read all of this and I’m still not sure Fundbetter is for me.

It’s not for everyone! We blogged some further thoughts that might help you decide.