Publishers have asked us to do a Kickstarter in the past: Obsidian CEO

Project: Eternity

By on September 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Obsidian’s CEO Feargus Urquhart has revealed on the company’s Project: Eternity Kickstarter page that they have previously been approached by publishers, asking them to do a Kickstarter — but turned them down.

“We were actually contacted by some publishers over the last few months that wanted to use us to do a Kickstarter,” said Urquhart. “I said to them: ‘So, you want us to do a Kickstarter for, using our name, we then get the Kickstarter money to make the game, you then publish the game, but we then don’t get to keep the brand we make and we only get a portion of the profits.’ They said, ‘Yes’.”

Urquhart was quick to stress that he didn’t think the publishers really understood what they were asking. “I think they were trying, honestly, to be able to do something with us and they felt that was the easiest way to do it. They would then not need to go get budget approved and deal with the challenge of that. What I don’t think they did was to think about our side of it and what they were really asking.”

Obsidian’s Project: Eternity Kickstarter has now reached $1.7 million of its $1.1m goal.

Source: NeoGAF

23 comments (Leave your own)

Publishers don’t quite seem to understand how irrelevant kickstarter can make them…

 
 

That sort of offer could make sense in the right circumstances.

A problem I see with Kickstarter is that it won’t necessarily cover marketing costs, and good luck using the money to get the game in traditional distribution channels.

Where a major publisher actually works for a game it can be pretty good. Where they just take the profits and run it is pretty bad.

 
Unworthy King

Marius,

We need more of this. We need more developers finding other ways to finance their projects so we can get some good quality titles, and not have the publishers dictate which games are worth it, and which aren’t.

Sure the publishers take care of marketing and distribution, but nowadays that won’t be a problem. After all, what better marketing is there than word of mouth? Blogs? Youtube videos? If a gamer wants to find a good game, he will. From the distribution side of things, there’s always steam and digital downloads in general.

-

When i read the first article, my initial thoughts were, “Omg Obsidian, you are a disgrace,” but I will have to say that I was wrong. I like this concept, I like it a lot.

 

I don’t disagree with you.

I just think that publishers will always have a place.

Self-publishing has been around for longer in books and music, and the pros and cons have been widely debated.

Many people agree that when a major publisher gets truly behind you, it’s excellent. The problem is getting them to give a damn about what you do in the fist place.

 

Aye the publisher needs to be excited about the project otherwise it’s just an investment with a deadline.

 

cyrinno:
Aye the publisher needs to be excited about the project otherwise it’s just an investment with a deadline.

that’s sort of what it should be like.

the part that fails is the publishers not realising that pressure on the dev isn’t always a good thing. if they are forced to release a shitty game, then the publisher won’t make as much money as possible on their investment.

from what I understand, honestly I think kickstarter goes too far in the other direction. it’s possible for a person to fund the game, not get anything in return, whilst having no way of earning money back for their investment. granted most people end up pledging enough to get the game, but an issue still remains.

what is it like for devs? does all of the development money come from kickstarter? or do they get loans for more with the money?

it just seems like if the devs JUST use kickstarter money, they are taking zero financial risk but reap the rewards if the project goes well. obviously there are more complicated risks like reputation, but for some studios this risk could be worth it.

I wonder if a system where pledgers get a return for supporting successful kickstarters would be viable.

 

I think it’s highly unlikely that devs use only Kickstarter money.

1.1 million for an AAA RPG seems… ridiculously tiny.

They’d have to be using it as collateral for a loan.

 

Not necessarily…

in fact, that’s the whole point… AAA RPG of the past didn’t need 5-10 million dollars to produce and yet they were excellent substituting the massive cost in producing the assets of what is equivalent to a digital movie (extensive voicing, fully animated characters and scenes, etc), and instead using representative interface… but EFFECTIVE representative none the less.

isn’t that the whole point of their Kickstarter RPG? an OLD SCHOOL RPG of the old? instead of the ‘NEW AGE RPG’ with fully voiced lines (‘with corniest lines ever like Hollywood B grade movies’).

 

Which is the other problem of publishers…

publishers believe that in this day and age, you NEED TO BE all that…

ie: whether it is fully voiced, and animated, or that FPS is the way to go instead of old school isometric of the old.

they honestly believe that if your game is not dolled up to the maximum with all the latest trend in design that it will not work, or that it won’t ever sell in today’s age regardless if the design itself is good or not.

 

*grumble about KickStarter*…

 

bronzed:

they honestly believe that if your game is not dolled up to the maximum with all the latest trend in design that it will not work, or that it won’t ever sell in today’s age regardless if the design itself is good or not.

None of these games will sell with COD or WoW amounts of profit. All these games getting done through kickstarter are all nieche titles, that are not going to make much money. And quite frankly, noone buys nieche titles en masse, with a tiny number of exceptions – there are hundreds of games that have made losses for every one that hasn’t, and not just generic ones either.

No publisher is interested in taking risks on these outlier projects without a kickstarter style money up front preorder. Even the people making the game via kickstarter aren’t going to do it until everyone ponies up because nearly all nieche games flop.

Kickstarter is basically a huge number of people preordering with a rediculously large lead time. To be blunt, publishers would be quite happy to invest in neiche games if they had huge numbers of guaranteed preorders.

If a publisher asked for this however, we would collectively all laugh at them. I doubt theres anyone here who would pay for the next COD 2 years before it comes out, or anything that ‘dirty’ EA wanted to make before release.

It’s bizare to irrationally just hate on publishers (who really are more investers, than traditional publishers) for blocking these games, when we literally wouldnt put down money if they did exactly what kickstarter is doing.

 

coatsy22,

The reason publishers get hated on is not irrational at all. They are the primary reason why the progression of gaming has stagnated. For the past 10 years or so, ever since gaming has rapidly increased in popularity into the mainstream, publishers have held back video games. The industry is in a rut because the publishers hold all the power and only want to fund games that use the same basic formula.

For example, how many dozens of CoD or BF rip-offs have been released over the past 5 years or so? How many WoW clones have been released? How many Elders Scrolls wanna-bes have come out? Too many to count really. Why do we keep getting half-baked games with day-0 patches and DLC? Or games that are so broken on release that by the time the devs bother to patch it everyone has moved on to something else? Its all because of the money hungry publishers.

They put such huge time constraints on developers and bully them into releasing unfinished products so they can meet release deadlines. The problem with doing that is that both the publisher AND developer get punished in the long run.

The developer gets a bad name for releasing a crap, buggy title because it just plainly wasn’t finished, and the publisher loses money in the long run because word gets around that the game is poor, or broken. Thats why publishers get hated on, and deservedly so.

I think at times people who have no clue (not saying this is necessarily you) about how games are created think that it is easy to make a big budget AAA game. Well as someone who has studied a game design course at Qantm I can tell you that even “simple” games aren’t easy to develop. Whether people want to admit it or not, games are an art form, they are a craft. If you rush the development, you are gonna end up with a lackluster turd. If publishers stopped their bullying tactics and actually gave the developers some more power in regards to release schedules and more importantly; creativity within games. Then the gaming industry will be all the better for it. Instead of having 50 CoD rip-offs released every year and only 1 or 2 actually being of any decent quality. We might actually get 50 unique shooters of which, a far higher percentage will actually be worth playing. Quality > Quantity. The sooner the publishers stop seeing games as cash cows and milk franchises until they run dry, the better. Games need time to be developed and matured and to have the bugs worked out etc. Modern games, especially AAA projects, are so complex that its not as simple as many people think……sadly, people who seem to think its easy are the same people funding the projects…..publishers.

So I don’t think publishers are unfairly criticised at all. Go talk to a developer who has worked on a big budget AAA title and ask them just how big bastards publishers can be. Your perspective may very quickly change

 

vengeance47,

Way to totally miss the point

If a publisher had have had a website, promoting one of these kickstarter games thats been successful, with identical pre-funding, completely identical to kickstarter in every way, on every single term and clause, absolutely noone would go in on it.

We would have pages of posts about ‘how dare they take our money for a game that wont even be made for 2 years, this is an outrage!! publishers are all evil and money grubbing’ on every gaming site on the net.

In this specific situation, the hatred towards publishers is irrational, irrespective of any other nonsense they may get up to.

 

Why are you expecting anything less in such scenario though?

a publisher is first and foremost a business, their action is always business first…

therefore if anyone put money into them in a “If a publisher had have had a website, promoting one of these kickstarter games thats been successful, with identical pre-funding, completely identical to kickstarter in every way, on every single term and clause, absolutely noone would go in on it.”

ppl will expect THE SAME DAMN THING they’ve done with developers when it was funded by publishers, ie: tight schedule, IP rights nightmare, etc…

The whole point is that ppl do not want publisher’s interference in the game development, but that’s impossible to expect from publishers because it is illogical to not monitor and control your asset from a business point of view.

The only way to ensure no interference from them is to NOT have them involved at all in the first place. Which is the whole point of indies, be it games, music, books, etc…

I am not exactly blaming publishers for doing what they’ve done, since i would do the same if i am a businessman in charge, but NO ONE LIKES it.

 

Incidentally,

” Even the people making the game via kickstarter aren’t going to do it until everyone ponies up because nearly all nieche games flop.”

with all due respect, THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH publishers…

they consider anything that doesn’t produce triple AAA return a “FLOP”

it could be making profit still, but not CoD kind of profit ratio… and it will STILL BE A FLOP to them because let’s face it in a business, you don’t invest money to get the same return or just a fraction bit more than you invested…

you expect a return equivalent to what standard business investment would return from such investment in both capital and time.

if the game produced a profit, but NOT THE PROFIT expected… then it’s already a failure as far as business investment goes and no publishers or investor will want that.

THAT is the biggest difference Kickstarter can make however… the audience of Kickstarter is effectively THE INVESTOR, but unlike a business investor, they are not expecting a BUSINESS PROFIT margin, they just WANT THE GAME or the PRODUCT itself.

 

Gamers have no real leg to stand on when talking about business profits, though.

For at least the past decade lots of gamers have talked about games in terms of business profits.

Just look at how any MMO is called a failure if it doesn’t live up to WoW expectations, even though it is still making a profit. :P

 

I’m sick of everyone calling every MMO a failure and then jumping on the next to be released MMO as being the next hyped game. Which ends up being a ‘failure’.

I am also sick of Publishers thinking that making an MMO gives them a shot at WOW type profits.

 

Marius:
Gamers have no real leg to stand on when talking about business profits, though.

For at least the past decade lots of gamers have talked about games in terms of business profits.

Just look at how any MMO is called a failure if it doesn’t live up to WoW expectations, even though it is still making a profit. :P

True, but THAT is exactly why gamers as the investor make Kickstarter game indie development work.

They don’t think in terms of business profit like publishers and business investors, they primarily think in the single term: ie: does the game concept APPEALS to them or not.

 

To publishers and business investors, if plan A produce 100% more profit (both long and short term) than plan B then they will ALWAYS choose plan A even if plan B produces a good game.

But if the gamers are the investors the fans of plan B will back it regardless of the profit because they simply likes it.

Publisher’s plan is SOUND from business point of view… but TERRIBLE from games point of view since you effectively CONDEMN the games developed through the publishers path to pander to the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR.

niche? in a way yeah, but think of it yourself… WHAT IS the largest number of gamers around for example? Do we really want games to be developed with THAT as the measurement stick?

 
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