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Imagine P:E is released, sells quite well, and Obsidian decides to use the traditional publisher model to fund the sequel


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Because the behaviors of publishers, especially rushing the game, have been a reoccurring problem for Obsidian in the past. Maybe it would be a necessary evil and I'm pessimistic.

 

I wouldn't see it as an evil. They're just publishers. The problem is they're a business and games with high production value are extremly costly. Leading to the unfortunate situations and stories we hear about.

 

They are necessary, because they are the only way some things can get done. The problem so far was that they were in many cases the ONLY way to get things done. Leaving devs at the mercy of publishers.

 

I'm personally in favor of the hybrid Obsidian seems to want.

Edited by C2B
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On that note: Considering when P:E gets released and IS successful Obsidian would have a much better standing towards the publishers. What do you think this means for the contracts between them?

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I'll say this: I'd be really curious to see the reaction to a Kickstarter for the P:E sequel if the game delivers what it promises. They were able to raise $4 million based on some words, some art, a reputation and a screenshot. If they genuinely release a game featuring the depth of Torment with the exploration of BG2 and the tactical combat of Icewind Dale, as they intend, and then start seeking money to make the next game even bigger and better....?

 

I'd just...really like to see what the final number of pledges would be.

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I'll say this: I'd be really curious to see the reaction to a Kickstarter for the P:E sequel if the game delivers what it promises. They were able to raise $4 million based on some words, some art, a reputation and a screenshot. If they genuinely release a game featuring the depth of Torment with the exploration of BG2 and the tactical combat of Icewind Dale, as they intend, and then start seeking money to make the next game even bigger and better....?

 

I'd just...really like to see what the final number of pledges would be.

 

It would be interesting to say the least, though I'd prefer P:E selling well enough to allow for P:E 2.

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Personally, I question if any of the Publishers will still be around after PE releases. Activision might be, but I fully expect everyone else to be bankrupt by the end of 2014.

 

 

I wouldn't see it as an evil. They're just publishers. The problem is they're a business and games with high production value are extremly costly. Leading to the unfortunate situations and stories we hear about.

 

They are necessary, because they are the only way some things can get done. The problem so far was that they were in many cases the ONLY way to get things done. Leaving devs at the mercy of publishers.

 

Actually, this is more the misinformation that the Publishers and Journalists try to push off as truth.

 

The unfortunate situations are largely artificial, they're generally caused by...

 

-A Publisher's deadline set to meet some fairly meaningless event (Holiday season, end of quarter)

-A Publisher's demands for changes that really didn't fit in the game in the first place.

 

Publishers set artificial dates in order to meet mythical events. "Holiday season", because they operate under the false belief that games can only be sold between Oct and Dec, or because they're hoping to exploit the tendency of purchasers to not check reviews during that time period and buy shovelware just because the name is posted somewhere as if it was great. They're hoping that they don't have to sell the game on quality.

 

The other event is the Quarterly, because Shareholders don't understand game development and think you should show positive revenue at all times. Shareholders think game development is like every other industry, with constant cash flow instead of intermittent cash flow.

 

The reality is, Games will sell well if they have high quality. It would be better for the bottom line if they actually spent the effort to finish the product instead of shoving it out the door incomplete.

 

As far as it being the only way of getting things done goes, this is again artificial.

 

-Console platform owners won't deal with Developers, they want to deal with Publishers, because Platform owners don't want to screen titles, they want someone else to absorb the cost.

-Publishers generally give Development Houses a pittance of the revenues, they cultivated this in the late 90's, and increased this dependence by successfully convincing the console gamers that Graphics > Gameplay. Because Developers are forced to be dependent because of parasitic relationships with Publishers that border on Robber Baron type dealings, and because the console gamers will decry anything that isn't the very best in graphics (Until recently, it seems to be changing), Developers are literally forced to deal with Publishers.

 

It's not a sustainable system, it's highly cannibalistic, because content creators are consistently given the shaft on all fronts and ultimately it has and will continue to reduce the amount of content creators. Everyone wants to succeed in life, and the current system is designed to cause content creators to fail in order to feed the parasitic publishers. No one really feels like a huge success when your company is literally at the mercy of someone else's company.

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I cant think of a reason why they would give up the creative controll of their game if it turns out successfully. A publisher or "overlord" eventually tries to meddle or "streamline" their products. With few exceptions. DA2 and ME3 was "streamlined" to the point where it lost its identity and alienated a significant portion of its fanbase.

 

Only good exception I can think of, offhand, is IOI and their "Hitman" franchise. They seem to be very solidly in controll of their original IP despite their overlords.

"Politicians. Little tin gods on wheels". -Rudyard Kipling. A European Fallout timeline? Dont mind if I do!

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As a "what-if" scenario, that depends. There are ups and downs to a standard publisher model. For one, the funding might help a lot in improving many aspects on the game. On the flip-side, however, publishers also want profit, so they're going to be looking at what seems to appeal to the mass market. This means publishers may want to shoehorn things more fit for, say, the Call of Duty audience into the game. This also means publishers may demand for strict deadlines, giving developers less time to work, do QA, and lead to more cut content. Additionally, increased funding doesn't necessarily mean it will improve the quality of the game. The money may go more into other things, like marketing, voice work, etc. instead of actual content. This is basically what happened to Dragon Age 2. In the end, it really depends on how much creative control Obsidian would have in this case.

Edited by YourVoiceisAmbrosia
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Till obsidian looks to make console version there is no reason to deal with a publisher. Publishers are only good for two things, getting your game in a retail store(most of which barely carry PC games these days) and getting your game approved by a console maker. (Again pointless for PC games.)

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I'd wait and see. Expansion will be done if if they make enough off the main game its self and use that money for it. So a second game entirely... definitely, for me at least, would depend on how that came about and who's publishing. Ultimately the companys I tend to be wary of as publishers (not 'to' many) only tend to 'really' screw with games if its one of there big projects they're using to compete with something else like that.

 

A second game could also be worked on first and seeked publishing backing second, its happened before, granted more in the 90s then today due to the way the market is. There are plenty of publishers out there who wont screw with the thing much at all, more so if the products is mostly done anyway. Granted, that's not really funding the project at that point but if they could do the first one with about 4m, a fund throwing in lets say 10m is small potatos comparatively and I just... I don't see it being that big of a deal in the end.

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What would be your reaction? Annoyance that a publisher now has a say in the development of what was once purely controlled by the designers? Happiness that the sequel will have access to more funding? Ambivalence until you see how it effects the game, or until you see exactly which publisher is funding it?

 

EDIT: This keeps getting brought up, and its my fault for not being clear, so to clarify in post one: this is more an intellectual exercise to gauge people's view of publishers; i.e. inherently evil or arguably a source of good things if approached correctly? I'm aware that the Official Word is 'self-publishing', if anything.

 

It wouldn't bother me either way--Obsidian wouldn't be stuck in a position of being slaves to the publisher's whims either way because they'd know they could just walk away if they didn't like what the publisher wanted.

 

What would be REALLY cool is if they could completely self-fund the next game out of the PROFITS from this one, since those same profits won't be inhaled by the publisher. That's how business is supposed to work, after all--you plow your profits back in to the business to produce more and better products. Hand out bonuses to the devs, sure, but keep most of the profits in house as project financing.

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I'm not much of an optimist, I'd give 50-50 it goes to that.

 

Assume Eternity sells decently, but not nearly well enough to fund the second part.

Assume it wont get glowing metacritic scores, and it wont, not from todays crowd.

 

Then it's either doing another kickstarter, knowing it won't gather the same enthusiasm as the first one.

They'd basically be stuck in a downward spiral. Not a good place to be.

 

Or maybe there'd be a publisher ready to finance the sequel, with no demands on the content, yet.

Take a chance and see if the franchise takes off with plenty of CGI cutscenes and a big marketing push?

 

--

And then there's the other 50% chance everything goes smoothly.

Hey, I didn't believe they'd collect 2 millions in the kickstarter either.

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What would be your reaction? Annoyance that a publisher now has a say in the development of what was once purely controlled by the designers? Happiness that the sequel will have access to more funding? Ambivalence until you see how it effects the game, or until you see exactly which publisher is funding it?

 

EDIT: This keeps getting brought up, and its my fault for not being clear, so to clarify in post one: this is more an intellectual exercise to gauge people's view of publishers; i.e. inherently evil or arguably a source of good things if approached correctly? I'm aware that the Official Word is 'self-publishing', if anything.

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They want to become a publisher as well, at least for their own content (I assume), like Interplay did back in the day.

 

Makes sense, create your own ****, license it to others to distribute.

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Alternatively, depending on how Star Citizen goes over its development, the model Chris Roberts is using may be another way forward assuming that what Eternity has achieved has more or less hit the ceiling of what crowdfunding can provide.

 

 

I also wonder, with the rise of crowdfunding, whether there's a market for a sort of boutique publishing effort - think a farmer's market over a supermarket - similar to the vision of what Gathering of Developers attempted to be in the late 90s. It didn't succeed then, but perhaps this new climate may be more conducive to such a setup.

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I'm going to skip past the intellectual exercise part of the OP and get down to the question asked in the subtext: "What do you think of publishers?"

 

I don't hate publishers per se, I just hate what they've done to my hobby. In their race to the lowest common denominator, they've hybridized games into a massive, indistinguishable kludge of mostly hot garbage. Copying and pasting Call of Duty and WoW ad infinitum, ad nauseaum, all meant to placate a sea of half-witted console kiddies. Games with real creativity, depth and challenge aren't completely dead, but they seem fewer and farther between than I remember in the 10, 15, 20 years past.

 

So do I begrudge them for being risk averse, profit driven corporate monsters? No, not really. Companies are in the business of making money, but like in most things, when the number of competitors in an industry dwindles because of conglomeration, homogenization and stagnation usually follow, and when that industry is supposedly founded on creative endeavors like making games there's hardly a worse fate I can imagine for us the consumers.

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They won't. Like, there's a less than 1% chance.

 

However using the publisher model in the sense of self-publishing

 

**** yeah. They already said as such.

Pretty much this. If it bombs, no publisher will want to touch it. If it does good, and they went to a publisher for the sequel, Obsidian would be renouncing a share of the profits for no apparent reason. If they were short on funds for the sequel (unlikely if this one goes well), they'd just do another kickstarter.

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As has been said, it really depends on how PE does commercially. If this proves to be a $$$ making winner, there should be no reason OE would want or need to engage with a publisher. If the game fails to succeed, that fact alone would probably eliminate any need to even discuss funding of a sequel.

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After seeing what happened to BioWare once EA took control, I'd be more than highly sceptical if they hooked up with another publisher. Especially if it was EA. I'd just expect Project Eternity 2 to basically be like Dragon Age 2.

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Isn't Atari the publisher for the Witcher series? That relationship seems to be doing all right, despite the muck-up Atari made of ToEE. Perhaps I am misinformed?

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It's easier than ever to self publish. With all the digital distributors, like Steam, GoG, etc... I would be surprised OE would go to a traditional publisher. That being said, if OE decided to go to a publisher I would not be mad or anything. It's their decision to make.

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Giving this IP away to a publisher would be a disaster. Publishers won't let Obsidian retain control. Thet don't work like that. Those of you, who are hoping that maybe the sequel could be done with a publisher that doesn't mingle too much are forgeting why publishers exist. They exist for the sole purpose of making money. They don't care about funding a sophisticated game with deep story and tactical combat. It doesn't even have to be a good game. What's important is that it sells. And so they are ready and will do everything to make it sell, even if it means turning PE 2 into a f2p MMO first person tower defense shooter with RPG and RTS elements, that has cover mechanics, zombies, an auction house and Sonic as the central character...If that's what the charts say will sell, they will force Obsidian to make a game like this.

 

And no, publishers will not agree to fund PE 2 and leave full control over the development and release date in the hands of Obsidian, just because PE did well. Why would they risk their money in something they have no control over. There are tones of other franchises they can exploit with much less risk. So, guys, let's stay real. If publishers are involved PE 2 won't be the game we'd like it to be. Not even close.

 

I'd just expect Project Eternity 2 to basically be like Dragon Age 2.

No. That would be to much of a jump. I used the above hyperbole to strengthen the effect, but realistically speaking, I think EA would turn PE 2 into another Diablo III.

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