Games Ship Buggy Because Of Publishers, Says Brian Fargo

By William Usher 1 year ago discussion comments
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Fargo goes on to explain the rocky financial relationship between publishers and developers. That myth about used games eating into developer profits? Forget about it. As mentioned in the Top Misconceptions about the Gaming Industry – and just as Fargo explains – devs are paid up front. It's contractual work with the possible bonus based on silly things like Metacritic scores, swayed by those oh-so-important reviews.

When the contract expires, it's time to pack up your bags... game sales be damned. That's right, new or used, it doesn't matter when the contract is up. But don't take my word for it, Fargo explains it from first hand experience...
“There’s always some deals that change. I’m sure the guys working on Titanfall have a different deal, so put that on the side. But most developers have a certain kind of deal. It’s all in advance. If a publisher says… Let’s say they slow you down and you have to spend another six months on the project and your team is burning half the money in a month. That’s $3 million of your money. You’re in the hole another $3 million, because everything is in advance.”

“It also hurts on the creativity, because let’s say you think, “God, I have a great idea. Let’s do it.” And it takes two more weeks to do it. Now you’re in the hole another $150,000 for doing it. It’s counter to coming up with clever ideas. It’s almost like you saying, “Oh, I have a great idea, but you know what? I have to add some more money on to my mortgage.” You’re not going to be as inclined to come up with creative ideas, because you’re never getting out of that hole. You’re digging it deeper. That’s why you have… Usually the owner of the company is spending very little of his time on the project, which you’d like him to spend. Instead he’s thinking, “What are we going to do next? We’re probably not going to recoup and I don’t want to let people with families lose their jobs.”

Jackpot.

That quote right there is the quote of the century in the world of gaming culture.

You really want to fight the good fight against developer injustice? Take up a pitchfork and torch with the publishers who are running your hobby and the developers' jobs into the ground.

It's not all horror stories and Darren Aronofsky endings, though. Fargo talks up a good deal of the positive side of development thanks to Kickstarter. Yeah, Kickstarter is kind of an exclusive club based on whether gamers like you or not, but it sure beats having a game homogenized so that it's broadly appealing.

I tell you the honest truth, any game that seeks to be “broadly appealing” I just skip it altogether. I don't care what the devs have to say, I don't care what the marketing pitch is... if you want to sell out your creativity so a pub can meet their profit margins, you've already lost a sale.

Thankfully, Wasteland 2 is a passion project and Fargo and company have been dying to make the game of their dreams for quite some time. Even more than this, the game was actually delayed because it was budgeted well enough for them to add in additional content and flesh out more ideas. No qualms here.

You can read up more on the horror stories of the AAA business by checking out the Rock, Paper, Shotgun article.
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