Grip Kickstarter canceled, but Early Access release is coming anyway

The Rollcage-inspired racing game Grip went to Kickstarter earlier this month, asking for 657,000 Canadian dollars to get the game out the door. It managed to raise nearly $154,000, a not inconsiderable amount but nowhere near on pace for success, and so today developer Caged Element pulled the plug. But it's not giving up on the game, and said it hopes to be able to finish it with the help of an Early Access release and in-house crowdfunding campaign instead.

"We're so very grateful to those of you who backed us on Kickstarter, and we hope that after seeing our continued passion for making this game, you will re-pledge your support here," the studio wrote on the Grip web page. "All funds from this campaign will go into further developing the initial release for Early Access."

The new crowdfunding campaign currently offers just six tiers, ranging from $4 to $40, with no physical rewards available, although the studio hopes to eventually work some in. There's also no set goal or time limit, so pledges, as far as I can see, are taken immediately and kept regardless of the outcome. However, the studio does promise to issue refunds to anyone who wants one if it fails to get Grip to Early Access by November 30.

The planned feature list for the initial Early Access release is one car, one track, and one "playground map," plus three weapons, two power-ups, "standard" AI, a bunch of modifiers like slow motion, unlimited ammo, and double engine power, and one exclusive music track. The studio also emphasized that pre-purchasing the Early Access version will give "permanent ownership" of the final release as well.

"We considered going straight to Steam with our current build, but instead felt it was important and ultimately necessary to release our first version at a higher level of quality. We want you to be able to jump into Grip and have a great experience right from the start, without too many bugs or annoyances getting in the way," the studio said. "With Early Access, we can truly focus on development, getting iterations of the game to you as efficiently as possible while also receiving your valuable input on upcoming features."

Home-grown crowdfunding can be very successful—just ask Chris Roberts—but it also lacks some of the safeguards inherent in Kickstarters that, while not always effective, at least ensure that no money changes hands unless and until a predetermined goal is achieved. The promise of refunds if the Early Access release isn't on time is laudable, but no more enforceable than Kickstarter's requirement that successful campaigns deliver the goods (although there is the official Steam route). On the other hand, the trailer that went up last week looks pretty good, and pulling in 150 large in less than three weeks is a clear indication of real interest in this game.

All of which leads to a simple question: If you backed Grip on Kickstarter (and even if you didn't), will you throw it some money now?

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