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Stormgate's Ex-Blizzard Devs Want Players To Invest In The Company [Updated]

As 2024's big bad—Late Stage Capitalism—continues its grim rampage, some developers are looking to more innovative approaches to avoid the publishing industry’s self-sabotaging need for impossibly endless growth. Stormgate creator Frost Giant—a studio created by former StarCraft 2 devs—is following up on its recent Kickstarter success by now inviting players to invest in the company directly. Update: Frost Giant has explained their reasons for this campaign, which you can read below.

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There’s a good reason people are excited about Stormgate. Big-name RTS games are few and far-between of late, and given the popularity of the e-sports scenes, and an ever-more desperate audience, a new title from the people who created StarCraft 2 is a big deal. A demo released during the most recent Steam Next Fest proved enormously popular, the second most played of the event, only beaten by Dungeonborne.

Frost Giant Studios

Via StartEngine, Stormgate is looking to bring in more cash by letting people “own a piece of Frost Giant.” Exactly why is an interesting question, given just how much money Frost Giant has already raised for an RTS that is reported to have received over half a million wishlists on Steam. According to its own campaign page, the ex-Blizzard team has already received $34.7 million from investors, including big names like Riot Games, alongside just this February securing an enormous £2.38 million from a very successful Kickstarter.

Generally, when you see a project running multiple investment schemes at once, it’s a warning sign. Cough-Star Citizen-cough. However, all signs of Stormgate are looking good, even just finishing its first streamed championship despite the early code. Although, details are very scant on the StartEngine page regarding exactly what investors will eventually receive. Right now, you can only “reserve,” which means no actual money will be taken if you register your interest in a $494 investment, with an option to go through with it at some unspecified point in the future.

According to VG247, Frost Giant says it’s doing this because “big publishers [are] laying off hundreds of game workers seemingly every day, and making decisions that prioritise near-term profits instead of worker and player happiness.” The press release continues, “We’re choosing to control our own destiny and self-publish our game in the West with direct support from our player community.”

The scheme has only interested a total of eight people at the time of writing, which given no money is actually being committed isn’t perhaps a stellar success. But it’s also incredibly vague and unspecific, especially in regards to what sorts of returns are on offer here for your pseudo-shares. It’d also be interesting to know how much of the company remains owned by the developers after $34 million of external investment. Some more clarity, and a yet-to-happen social media push, will presumably see this garner more attention.

The game is due to enter Early Access in Q3 of 2024, and will be free-to-play. If it can truly capture the spirit of StarCraft 2, but with a more modern mindset, this could be a huge reinvigoration of the RTS e-sports scene. Although, whether you want to gamble an investment on that is up to you.

Updated: 2/19/24, 13.45 p.m. ET: We’ve heard back from Frost Giant. We asked the studio what a $494 investment might gain someone, and while stressing that no money is being taken yet, the company’s communications director explained that it’d gain you non-voting “multiple preferred stock shares.” However, when we asked how people could expect to see their investment recouped, and how many shares this would involve, we were told more details would arrive when the StartEngine campaign fully launches.

Regarding how much of the company still remains in the founders’ control, Frost Giant told us it’s still a controlling interest. The campaign itself will offer up a maximum of $5 million worth of shares in the company, with the company valuation set at $150 million.

As for why this extra investment, Frost Giant says it’s to fund promotion when the game goes into Early Access.

As Frost Giant observes, this is the sort of thing a publisher would usually pay for, but given plans to self-publish, the company is looking to this StartEngine investment to cover such expenses. The studio concludes, “We don’t want anyone else to be in a position where they can force us to compromise our vision or what’s best for the game in favor of near-term gain.”

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