Mighty No. 9’s launch could be going a lot better

Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9, positioned as a spiritual successor to oldschool Mega Man games, shot past an initial $900,000 Kickstarter goal and went on to accrue $3.8 million in total crowdfunding in 2013. Originally targeted for an April 2015 release, the game has experienced multiple setbacks (and one extremely questionable trailer from publisher Deep Silver), but as of today is finally reaching backers. Sort of. Not all at once. Or in the right order. Or necessarily for the right platforms. And there’s at least one report of running the game on Wii U completely bricking the console. But, Inafune says, “it’s better than nothing.”

That quote comes from today’s launch livestream, and in fairness to Inafune, it sounds more balanced in context:

The reality is they put everything into making this game… They didn’t try to microtransaction it out, they didn’t try to DLC it out for extra money. They put it all in. So, for now, this is what you see and what you get, for the Mighty No. 9 world. But, again, we can hope that if things go well, there’ll be sequels. Because I’ll tell you what, I’m not getting my 2D side-scrolling fill. And at the end of the day, even if it’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing. At least, that’s my opinion. (emphasis added)

Inafune being pragmatic about the state of his own game seems a lot better than some of the alternatives at the moment, with Mighty No. 9 facing down tepid reviews and backer complaints. The prospect of a sequel, however, seems a bit wishful thinking at this point.

Now, launch woes happen, and they’re not insurmountable. But Mighty No. 9 has been a slow-motion trainwreck for many months now, and some are looking upon today’s reported issues as a well-deserved reckoning for a long mismanaged project. But hey, at least we can all agree it was that community manager ruining an otherwise great game, right?

At any rate, I’ll refrain from joining the chorus of fingerwagging ‘Kickstarter-is-not-a-preorder-service’ thinkpieces doubtlessly being written at this very moment except to say this: Mighty No. 9 is not the first Kickstarted game to run into development and launch difficulties, and it will surely not be the last.  And also: a spectacular failure always generates more headlines than a modest success. There are quite a number of successfully crowdfunded games which have released in throwing distance of their target window, within budget, and with a finished project more or less identical to what was pitched, but we don’t talk about those much — because they don’t break records or make for funny, short-lived memes.

In the meantime, it appears Inafune’s team at Comcept is putting out fires to the best of its ability, replacing missing redemption codes with equivalent versions on Steam and resubmitting builds to Deep Silver and Microsoft. Mighty No. 9 might still fall gravely short of backers’ and customers’ expectations — and nobody should be putting out software that screws up a user’s entire system — but Comcept still has an opportunity to win back some goodwill here. Granted, that window appears to be closing pretty quickly.

Inafune has the least reason to be fussed about any of this, in any event. He’s already got another game lined up.

UPDATE (1:09PM): A review of the video footage from the launch stream suggests the “it’s better than nothing” comment may have been a personal editorialization on the part of the interpreter, not Inafune. See the clip below.

UPDATE (6/22/2016): Eurogamer reports the “it’s better than nothing” is indeed a remark from interpreter Ben Judd, and does not reflect Inafune’s own comments. Here are Inafune’s remarks:

I’m kind of loath to say this because it’s going to sound like an excuse and I don’t want to make any excuses. I own all the problems that came with this game and if you want to hurl insults at me, it’s totally my fault. I’m the key creator. I will own that responsibility.

It’s still a refreshingly candid and honest take from the lead developer, faced with a game that isn’t quite meeting its backers expectations!

(h/t Polygon, Eurogamer, VG247.)