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Arcade shoot-’em-up dev Cave pitches crowdfunding for Steam, PS4 ports

Cave, a Japanese developer of arcade-style shoot-’em-ups, proposed a crowdfunding structure for upcoming console and PC ports of its legacy titles this week, potentially leaving the company’s future in the hands of its fans.

Several of Cave’s arcade-ported shooters arrived on the Xbox 360 during the previous console generation, including Deathsmiles, Guwange, and Akai Katana. The company also saw success on iOS devices with ports of games like Espgaluda II and DoDonPachi Resurrection.

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Cave recently announced that its first-ever Steam game, a port of its 2004 shoot-’em-up Mushihimesama (Bug Princess), will launch this winter. The port will feature updated graphics, multiple gameplay modes, online leaderboards, and a “version 1.5” add-on that remixes existing game elements for a more difficult campaign.

Cave estimates that future Steam ports will cost between $300,000 and $500,000 per project, and conversions for the PlayStation 4 could cost upward of $1 million. If supporters in a proposed crowdfunding campaign pledge $3 million or more, Cave could feasibly produce an all-new shooter exclusively for consoles and PCs.

Though it has its roots in Japanese arcades, Cave enjoyed a niche market on the Xbox 360 throughout the console’s lifespan. Many of Cave’s previously issued retail releases were region-free, allowing its fans to import and play games like Mushihimesama Futari and Muchi Muchi Pork and Pink Sweets on all Xbox 360 consoles, regardless of region encoding. The majority of disc-based Xbox 360 games are locked to specific regions, and cannot be played outside of their intended territories.

Cave also entered the digital marketplace on the Xbox 360, to limited success. The company released a localized port of its acclaimed shooter Guwange via Xbox Live Arcade in 2010, and later launched an untranslated Games on Demand version of Deathsmiles II. The company shifted its focus back to retail releases soon after, however, apparently abandoning its plans for digital expansion.

Mushihimesama will be priced at $20 when it hits Steam this winter.