Square-Enix Wants Other People To Make Their Games

By Craig Pearson on October 9th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.


The troublesome burden of being an IP rights holder is starting to get to Square-Enix, who just can’t take it anymore. The publisher has announced the Collective, a sort of combination of Steam Greenlight and crowd-funding that’ll enable game devs to pitch ideas to the company. If, after 28 days, the game has gained enough support from the people then they’ll allow you to take the pitch to IndieGogo. Now you’re probably thinking that people can do that anyway so what the hell, Square-Enix? They can, that’s true. But Square are doing this so devs can pitch to work with “older Eidos IPs”.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see Arkane pitching for Thief Or Hitman, but Proteus Dev Ed Key could pitch a new Backyard Wrestling game. I’m just spit-balling, here. Take over, Square, before I go mad.

Each project pitch submitted goes through an evaluation phase to ensure ideas sit within the submission parameters, and if the community backs your ideas we’ll work with you on a due diligence process to give the community reassurance that you have the expertise and tools you need to create the game you’re planning to – plus we’ll use our experience of bringing games to market to help you work out how much you’ll need to raise to make it a reality.

So you pitch, the crowd votes, then you have to raise the money?

There’s a kernel of a good idea here, and maybe Square’s financial situation means they’re a bit scared financially back a game that’s been cleared by the Collective, but why does this has to be crowd-sourced at all? Why not just let indies come to you with ideas and you give them the yay or nay? Forcing this two-step public consultation seems to put a lot of burden onto the dev without any guarantee of a financial reward. As problematic as Greenlight is, at least the people on there can source opinions and earn money at the same time, but with this it’s a month of work to shape a pitch, then at least a month of work on IndieGoGo. There’s no suggestion of any financial risk or support on the publisher’s side whatsoever. There’s also no word on how any profits are split.

Square-Enix will release a few more detail at GDC Next, including a list of IPs people can pitch for. I hope they can clarify some of my concerns.

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46 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    I genuinely have no idea who this is supposed to be aimed at. The system is… well, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with the process, it feels far too close to “I take all the risk that Square would normally have to take”.

    Where I also includes the general public who I’d have to ask to throw the money at me as well, natch.

    It’s all a bit boggling. And sort of, I dunno, when we can work on our own games and make our own success, why?

    • Ansob says:

      I imagine that the IndieGogo part is non-mandatory, based on the wording of that web page (and also doesn’t say anything about excluding Kickstarter); if you want to make a Legacy of Kain game in your spare time or fund it out of your parent’s second mortgage’s pockets, you’re presumably allowed to do so.

      Unfortunately the site is complete bollocks and has no info at all, so there’s no way of knowing. If this is just a way of finding which indies/modders to grant licenses for Eidos IP to, it could be a pretty fantastic idea. Given that it’s SquEnix involved, though, I doubt that’s the case. :(

      • Moraven says:

        Square and many japanese developers have been pushing their IP on western developers with not much success. Although Square Enix is quite the mash up after they acquired Eidos. Maybe they will license the Eidos IP around?

        • zeekthegeek says:

          Square is in fact only giving access to older, unused Eidos IPs. Nothing offered from Square/Enix.

          • solidsquid says:

            Well damn, there goes my hope for a Bahamut Lagoon

          • Leosiegfried says:

            Legend of Legaia remake no 2 wrecked the skin of my hands with that minigame

      • The Random One says:

        If crowdfunding is not mandatory, why even mention it? Without that it’d just look like they were aiming at devs who could finance a game themselves but wanted the IP, like if Mojang or Zeboyd wanted it. Crowdfunding would remain a possibility if the dev so desired. Putting it this way just highlights the fact that they’re not paying.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The head of the program is reading the gamasutra article and responded similar questions. The idea is that square offers the traditional services of a publisher for less risk and a far lower percentage of the take and the dev keeps complete control. It’s a very interesting idea, but a bit incomplete.

      I think the service might be more interesting if Square operated the crowd-funding site, automatically subtracted its take (at a set percentage of funds raised), assisted with stretch goal analysis, and disbursed the money at each milestone. If the project was incomplete, or went too long without making significant process, the remainder of the funds would be given to the backers, in proportion to their pledge. That would create an entity that protects the interests of the backer, which might give it a leg up on kickstarter.

      As it stands, I think what they offer is a bit to slim. Indies aren’t facing platform owners who don’t care any more; they are actively wanted and recruited. Square will need to step up the competition to make a serious entry.

      The one extremely interesting thing they are offering is the use of existing Square-Enix-Eidos IP to outsiders with an interesting pitch.

      • Premium User Badge

        RobF says:

        It’s just the Eidos IP they’re offering isn’t it? So some nutter will probably try and remake Rick Dangerous and get it crowdfunded.

        We should probably stop this whilst we still have the chance.

      • Pockets says:

        Off the top of my head; Myth, Commandos, Anachnarox, Urban Chaos and Startopia? Plus Eidos bought out a bunch of companies in the early ’90s (Domark and a couple of others), so probably owns a surprising amount from the Spectrum, C64, Amiga etc.

        • Premium User Badge

          RobF says:

          Yeah, and US Gold if I remember right.

          Dunno how much if anything Kuju walked away with when they went and buggered off but I suspect that between the Core Design/US Gold and Domark stuff, that’s quite the back catalogue in there. Admittedly, quite the back catalogue of shite in the main but still…

          It’s just a shame they couldn’t do this the Devolver way instead of this silly crowd sourced crowd funded route but I imagine getting anything past a megalithic corporation like Square and out into the light of day will inevitably end up like this.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          If this means we see a vibrant and competent Myth reboot, and a sequel to Anachronox, then I’m *all for it*.

    • facebook14 says:

      my neighbor’s ex-wife makes $78 an hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for seven months but last month her pay check was $14029 just working on the computer for a few hours. we blink http://www.max47.com

  2. Zorlan says:

    I hope someone makes a pitch for a legit Commandos 4.

    Commandos 3’s fuck up with hotkeys made it shit.

    The FPS game doesn’t count.

    • Panda Powered says:

      I’d vote for Daikatana 2 after the raging success on steam.

  3. Moraven says:

    THe idea seems Square would help get it funded on IndieGoGo and distribute it after the game is made. Seeing how most KS fail to take KS 101 and 201, this could be a good idea. But I am not sure what makes Square an expoert on IndieGoGo game launches.

    Link has a few Q&A from Phil Elliot, head of the Collective community along with some comments posted by himself to answer some questions.

    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/201892/Square_Enix_adopts_crowdfunding_model_for_new_program.php

  4. spockjordan23 says:

    Headline should actually read: “Square-Enix Wants Other People To Make, and Pay For Producing Their Games.”

    • Leb says:

      Yeah, but the others can keep the money.

      While I’m no dev… seems like a good shot at glory to me. Getting an existing successful IP, have the power to do what you want with it, have Square take a small cut, and have square help cover distribution.

      The difficulty I imagine would come from the insane pressure to deliver, if not from square then from raging fans of loved IPs

  5. Viroso says:

    At the Gamasutra article where this came up I asked what’s in it for people submitting their ideas, the head of the Collective Community answered this:

    Well, the principle aim is really to help provide a spotlight to ideas which might otherwise struggle to get exposure – and also to enable projects to gain some momentum before embarking on a funding campaign. If funding is successful, we may be able to offer advice on the development process, but only if it’s asked for. And when it’s ready, we’ll help with distribution.

    However, as mentioned in the article, we want the developer to keep most of the revenue here – this isn’t about taking out of the ecosystem.

  6. karthink says:

    At least Square Enix lets the developers retain ownership of their IPs, so there’s that.

    • Pockets says:

      The problem is if you’re keeping your own IP and funding via Kickstarter, why do you need Square-Enix? The only value in it is if you want to do it using their IP, which obviously you wouldn’t own.

  7. Werthead says:

    So Tom Hall could theoretically pitch ANACHRONOX 2 to them? Interesting.

    What about Obsidian doing FINAL FANTASY VII-2? :)

    • ZIGS says:

      He said the original was supposed to be MUCH bigger (like, twice the size actually) but they had to cut it due to reasons. Needless to say, I’d love a new Anachronox

      • Danda says:

        Anachronox 2 would be great, but I don’t see this as the way to do it.

        Square Enix, just sell the IP to Tom Hall!

    • RProxyOnly says:

      Anacronox 2 (a faithful sequel.. and ending to the story) would be so fucking awesome .

  8. SpectralThundr says:

    I think the better question is, of the remaining old Eidos IP aside from Thief, Deus Ex, and Tomb Raider which have all been rebooted by square themselves, what is left of the remaining IP that anyone truly would care about at this point?

    • Premium User Badge

      lowprices says:

      Chrono Trigger and Urban Chaos. In fact, I recall Obsidian discussing a potential idea for a Chrono Trigger sequel a while back. Do it now, Chris Avellone!

      EDIT: Silly me. Chrono Trigger is a Squeenix IP. Still want it though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      Project Eden is, AFAIK, their best game. I wouldn’t mind seeing another game like it, but its IP probably isn’t that interesting.

    • Thrippy says:

      The spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper, made by many of the same Bullfrog developers. I have no idea if clan Muckyfoot would be interested in revisiting it.

      But if the Startopia IP is offered up, there will be blood in that overcrowded pitch elevator.

  9. Keyrock says:

    So will any of this lead to the open world, archeology/treasure hunting, exploration/puzzle focused game I’ve been dreaming about? Basically Elder Scrolls plus Tomb Raider minus combat.

    • solidsquid says:

      Elder Scrolls plus Tomb Raider with a dash of Mirrors Edge?

  10. Yglorba says:

    I think everything depends on the details: How much of a cut Square-Enix expects, what sort of restrictions they place on you after they’ve approved you, etc. If they treat it like a traditional publishing deal where you have to be crowdsourced, this sucks. On the other hand, if they take almost nothing and place almost no restrictions on you at all, it could be a very good deal indeed — at a bare minimum, distribution through Square-Enix guarantees that your game will be on Steam, and probably access to a large number of other retailers if you’re selling physical copies. There’s no question that Square-Enix’s support and Eido’s IPs will also be a massive advantage on Indiegogo.

    Of course, it also depends on what IPs they’re talking about. They say “older Enix ones”; I assume this means they’re not putting any of the older Square IPs on the table? That seems like a pity. Obviously they’re not gonna wanna water down their flagship titles (not that they haven’t done so already with IOS games and the like), but there’s still a lot of ancient SNES-era Square-Enix IPs that got one or two games and nothing else. I suspect that ancient Square-Enix IPs probably also have more of the kind of cult following that leads to massive crowdfunding than Eidos ones.

    Anyway, I guess my dreams of crowdfunded Live-a-Live remake will never see reality…

  11. kael13 says:

    HD, redrawn FFIX, pretty please! Gosh, that game’s soundtrack was Nobuo Uematsu’s self-declared magnum opus.
    Or uhh.. Are we just talking about Eidos IP here?

  12. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’ve been replaying one of my all-time favorite games, Legend of Mana, and it’s reminded me that Square-Enix (or Square, or Squaresoft, or whatever) was at one time an extremely prolific publisher with tons of unusual games. I haven’t played another game quite like Legend of Mana in the 13 years since it was released, and the game hasn’t aged a day.

    If this can help Square recapture some of that creativity, if it attracts people who understand that the company’s legacy was never amazing, expensive, time-consuming graphics and byzantine plotting, then I applaud this decision.

    Also, if you have access to a PS3 or PSP and never played Legend of Mana, it is available on the PSN. I would describe it as a 2.5D open-world action RPG, though that doesn’t really explain it as well as you might think. Bastion is probably the closest comparison point, but it’s still a very different beast all told (and it’s better than Bastion).

  13. Beernut says:

    Fuck off SQuenix!
    (Unfiltered opinion after two pitchers of Kilkenny)

  14. dndn1011 says:

    The state of AAA dev and publishing has reached the point where they want to get indie devs to do their R&D for them and they want it funded by crowd funding. It makes very little sense, except as a free way for them to assess the value of these old IPs and to generate interest in any projects that “take off”. Any project that got serious would probably be immediately taken back and the poor dev may well be left with nothing. Sorry, I just don’t get it.

  15. RProxyOnly says:

    “Older Eidos IP”?

    How about a real version of Deus Ex instead of the casual golden mess that was HR.

  16. Premium User Badge

    princec says:

    Luckily I have an imagination. I’ll stick to my own IP, thanks.

  17. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    So could someone pitch a proper Thief game to them, or would such a suggestion be quietly dropped from the database table when no-one was looking?

  18. Iain_1986 says:

    What a silly, lets try and induce a rage response sort of title.

    Don’t most publishers want other people making their games?

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      Yes but they usually take their more than ample share of the risk too.

      I think it’s fairly obvious that’s what the headline was referring to.

  19. SirMonkeyWrench says:

    I’ve thought for a while that publishers might benefit from taking the funds for one of their 40 million dollar games and spreading it around to make 20 2 million dollar games, this isn’t that whatsoever but it suggests that publishers might be starting to view supporting smaller productions as a valid strategy. I can only hope that this is a step in that direction.

  20. Thrippy says:

    Today, Square Enix released Startopia on Steam.

    The plot thickens.

  21. Poita says:

    Fuck Square and fuck enix along with em. They contracted GRIN to do a FF spin off and after a large number of GRIN’s staff working on the project for half a year SE shut it down and refused to pay GRIN for the six months of work which led to GRIN going under.