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TaterRant: Publishers

by taterchimp   //   9:47 PM on 03.08.2012

I feel kind of bad, honestly I do. I never write anything just to say hello, ask you guys how itís going, instead I donít do anything until a topic gets underneath my skin, and I have to put out a blog about it. I guess I might as well get to the elephant in the room: Publishers arenít obsolete, and if they think you are, I think less of you. Most of the time I read people ripping on publishers, complaining about copyright law, I think of some unwashed hippy at the OWS event thinking he is fighting ďthe manĒ, and like, totally rebelling against the system. There, I said it.

Stick with me here for a moment, if you would: Businesses are trying to make money. You know what happen when a business doesnít make money? It cuts the fat until it does make money, can make money in the future, or is no longer in business. Much like in the animal kingdom there is survival of the fittest, but in business that is called Best Practices. So when you see everyone with a really, really successful game has a publisher, clearly something must be up with having a publisher. If companies could get by without one they wouldnít waste the time or the money.

So this raises one of two questions: Tater, why are you retarded is the first one, because I have realistic expectations of peopleís emotions online. The better question is what does the publisher do that causes the game to be successful? So first, in general, what does a publisher do? They a. fund the game, b. oversee the development, c. market the game, and d. publish the game. In the case of a in house studio, step b turns into Ďmake the gameí.

So letís say you have a kickass idea for a new game. All you need to turn your game into reality is no less than 10 positions paid full time for 2 years at an average of 55k a year. Thatís only a million dollars. In debt. Before any profit. For 2 years. Good thing everyone can afford to pay that on a risk that their game is good! Oh yeah, and once itís done you still have to market it, which is probably pretty cheap, especially if you want to do it globally. Then you just have to print millions of copies, and convince retailers to buy it. Piece of cake. DoubleFine managed to convince people to raise something around that amount for a point and click adventure game, which as everyone knows are the most expensive to produce. I think you get my point here, so moving on to what this means.

Publisher enable risk. If every single person who wanted to make a game had to convince the entire team to take out mortgages on their homes to make a video game, do you know what we would see year after year? The exact same, risk free, drivel. What do you get with a publisher backing you? Probably ĺ risk free drivel, but ľ innovation. You have your cash cows that generate more capital to invest in riskier IPs.

Wait, what was that word? Invest. Thatís right. The publisher is buying the right to the IP in exchange for assuming all of the risk with the game, which is what I feel to be the exact center of what people are missing. If the game fails, the developer has ZERO tangible loss, all monetary losses are with the publisher. If the game succeeds the developer gets ALL the credit and additional profits. Holy. Shit. From a developer standpoint, that seems like the best case scenario for avoiding risk. So now as a publisher, you stand to lose almost all the money you invested in the game so that some dudes are guaranteed to break even. What does the publisher get out of that? If the game is wildly successful and fans are demanding a sequel, the publisher has everything contractually lined up with the same group. So it boils down to ďI will sell your product, risk free to you, if you agree to continue to work with me if it goes well.Ē And that is apparently the most evil thing in the world. Consider if that didnít exist: Hey, I funded your entire game, marketed it, and made it so that your vision was a hit success, out of the goodness of my heart. But that wasnít good enough, and you think you can make more money with some other dude? Cool. Cool.

As long as I am here, and on a rant, funding games through Kickstarter would be a horrible idea. What is the incentive to make a good game if you already have all of the money? Oh, there isnít one? And for that matter, what is the reward for buying a game before anyone has written a line of code? There are so many people that follow the gaming cycle of grief: Hype, hype, anticipation, disappointment, release, review, purchase, sadness. Iím pretty sure that is every Sonic game lately.

No pictures. Too ranty. Anyway, I know you all probably wont care too much for this, and in all honesty, I accept it is probably riddled with contradictions and false assumptions, but I had to post it. Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9-11. Thank you for your time and good night.









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