The gaming world’s seeing what may become a seismic shift in how games are going to be paid for. Kickstarter, the online crowd-funding site, has recently witnessed an influx of new gaming projects looking for an alternative method of raising development capital. Instead of going to production companies and pitching their ideas, possibly becoming beholden to them for creative control and nebulous milestones in exchange for funding, they’re using Kickstarter to corral the cash and keep the inner-workings where they belong—with the developer.

Double Fine and 2 Player Productions recent Kickstarter campaign to create a graphic adventure game has amassed $2,444,044 (as of this writing) with six days still left to go. The amazing thing is that their campaign was originally seeking only $400,000. Granted, this project has industry luminaries like Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert behind it, but this approach could be the harbinger of a new era in game development and production.

One such company attempting to take advantage of Kickstarter’s unique approach is Pixel Rampage. Their project, Gridiron Heroes, will use a format similar to the NES’ popular football game, Tecmo Super Bowl. Pixel Rampage isn’t simply content with rehashing an old classic; they’re really taking their version to the next echelon, leveraging the social power of Facebook to create a truly unique American Football, MMO-style experience. According to their Kickstarter description:

“In Gridiron Heroes, you take total control of your own football franchise from its inception: giving it a name, choosing your team colors, and designing your team logo. You’re in charge of everything—from training your players and developing strategy and tactics, to managing your roster and even buying and selling players in the free agent market. Once you’ve built up your own dream team, you can join in a league and jump right into the action.”

Originally, the game will be set up so that team owners will do all of the behind the scenes planning themselves and run games as a head coach—that is, creating game plans for both offense and defense against computer controlled opponents. Gridiron Heroes will then run the game. Pixel Rampage plans on making the game player vs. player as soon as possible, which is one reason they’ve reached out to the public through Kickstarter. The good news for fans of this project is that even if it doesn’t get funded, it will still be built. Dave Murray, head of Pixel Rampage told Kotaku’s Owen Good that they vow to build the game whether they hit their modest $7,500 goal or not. “It’s a certainty we will have something in April. Right now we’re putting in a lot of sweat equity; this money would mean being able to acquire some more software licenses for a live-playing version.”

As a longtime fan of football and video games, this project has me very excited. Not only will players be able to craft a team to their specific play-style and create leagues, but it promises to fill a void left since Tecmo Super Bowl’s heyday and franchises like EA’s Madden NFL Football have stepped in and offered increasingly complicated experiences, while not always delivering on what matters most—gameplay. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Tecmo Super Bowl has such a rabid cult following to this day. I’ve heard plenty of stories where people have taken the old ROMs and edited them to reflect current players and teams in the NFL and playing through seasons much like the rest of us do with Madden.

Regardless of whether you’re a football fan or not, I can see this game appealing to a large cross-section of the gaming public. From casual Facebook gamer to hardcore football nut and simulation junkies, this looks to offer something to just about everybody. One thing’s for sure—there may be a new sheriff in town when it comes to amassing resources to develop video games. And as far as I’m concerned, this isn’t a bad thing.

Here’s a link to their Kickstarer page.