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Cooper
04-02-2012, 12:25 AM
Some games whose proceeds no longer go to the developers are listed here:
http://machinestudios.co.uk/viewentry.php?id=45

I think this is worth discussing.
(thanks to Mr Denby's twitter for this...)

I buy games from GoG if they have put the work in to make these game compatible beyond bundling them with DosBox.

I would LIKE to think that buying these games sends a message to publishers that there is still demand. but I'm not convinced. If From Dust is what we get for buying these games, then, well... In the abscence of the proceeds of a game going to their developers, and with no clear suggesting that a demand for them will change large publishers design choices I wonder:

Why buy these games?

Porcupeth
04-02-2012, 01:04 AM
That's interesting indeed.


Titan quest? Why? All of it goes to THQ alone now?

SirKicksalot
04-02-2012, 01:05 AM
I would LIKE to think that buying these games sends a message to publishers that there is still demand. but I'm not convinced. If From Dust is what we get for buying these games, then, well...

Well then it's a good thing. There's always room for cheap and unique games built on groundbreaking technology.

For some of those games the earnings go to the franchise holders (Bond, LOTR, Warhammer etc). For the rest, just because the developer went tits up doesn't mean those dollars aren't invested in other cool games by the publisher.
It seems a bit silly to me. Money from the purchase of Company of Heroes doesn't go to its designers because they left Relic. Where exactly do you draw the line in this argument - at the name of the studio, at the employees directly responsible for the game or what?

When a game is stuck in a legal limbo and nobody knows where the money goes, that's when you might as well go ahead and pirate it IMO. However I can't think of anything in that situation except for System Shock 2 and Rise of Nations.

Kadayi
04-02-2012, 01:24 AM
Unless your company is a going concern then there's never been a royalty stream in place (unlike say film & television). Half the reason GOG can go on about being DRM free is because ultimately there's not a massive list of developers getting a slice of the action. The money is made GoG with the publishers getting a slice. It's icing on the cake money for them, not life and death.

Jacques
04-02-2012, 01:29 AM
Unless your company is a going concern then there's never been a royalty stream in place (unlike say film & television). Half the reason GOG can go on about being DRM free is because ultimately there's not a massive list of developers getting a slice of the action. The money is made GoG with the publishers getting a slice. It's icing on the cake money for them, not life and death.

Yep, the publishers are able to make money on a game that's long since out of print, something that wouldn't happen with second hand sales.

sabrage
04-02-2012, 01:47 AM
Yep, the publishers are able to make money on a game that's long since out of print, something that wouldn't happen with second hand sales.
Have you seen the prices of some classic PC games? I'm anxiously waiting for them to get Severance up there.

soldant
04-02-2012, 01:50 AM
So... for the most part, this list just reads like a list of defunct game developers.

People didn't really think that when they purchased a game from GoG or Steam that it was feeding money back into the original developer, now defunct, did they?

Jacques
04-02-2012, 01:50 AM
Have you seen the prices of some classic PC games? I'm anxiously waiting for them to get Severance up there.


Yep, they're absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Wasn't Severance the game where you could cut off an enemies arm and beat them to death with it?

sabrage
04-02-2012, 01:51 AM
Yep, they're absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Wasn't Severance the game where you could cut off an enemies arm and beat them to death with it?
I wouldn't know, I've never played it. What I've seen looks a lot like Demon's Souls.

Jacques
04-02-2012, 01:56 AM
I wouldn't know, I've never played it. What I've seen looks a lot like Demon's Souls.

From an IGN faq:


You can cut off your enemy's head, then pick it up and beat the next enemy to death with it!

Kodeen
04-02-2012, 02:18 AM
Why buy these games? Are you asking why buy them in lieu of pirating them, or why play them at all?

Bhazor
04-02-2012, 02:23 AM
Its the sad truth of Gog that the money almost never reaches the developers.
In an ideal world there'd be residuals and royalties (say 5-10% of any sale) shared out among the main band who made it. But thats the problem I guess, how do you classify the band? A game from 6 years ago could have hundreds of people working on it and how do you decide who gets what?

trjp
04-02-2012, 03:44 AM
I think this whole mentality of 'wanting to support the developers' is misguided and naive and people need to open their eyes a bit.

When a developer decides to make a commercial game they will usually need the support of a publisher(s) to fund development and ensure the widest possible market for their game. Even self-publishing developers need the support of DD services, App Marketplaces, Ad Networks and the like - and they all expect a piece of the pie.

This mentality that only developers should benefit from their work is, therefore, kinda stupid.

Developers are like everyone else in business - some are good at it but most are bad. That they are creating things you love doesn't spare them the need to have some business savvy if they want to be commercially successful.

The same deal applies to artists and musicians too - if they aren't wise, other people will happily take the lions share of their income too. Again, they need to either show more business-sense or stop trying to make money from what they do.

So can we please move away from this childlike blinkered idea that

Developer=good guy
Everyone else=badguy

Because it's kinda wearing...

Berzee
04-02-2012, 03:51 AM
I quite agree with trjp -- and I do want as much money as possible to go to the person who is actually responsible for creating the thing that I enjoy. =) But if at some point during his career the game developer decided to enter into a business agreement with a distributor or publisher of some kind, and if at some point that publisher entered into a business agreement with another business, and if the eventual result of all of those agreements is that somebody else gets to make money off of the game...well, it all started with the developer's decision, and as long as there wasn't any fraud or cheating in the process, why shouldn't I honor the developer's perfectly valid business agreements by paying the people he made a deal with, according to the terms of the deal?

Unless you have some sort of default assumption that everyone who bargains over their creation got swindled in the transaction, why wouldn't you deal with it plainly like any other business?

soldant
04-02-2012, 04:11 AM
Unless you have some sort of default assumption that everyone who bargains over their creation got swindled in the transaction, why wouldn't you deal with it plainly like any other business?
Because this is game development, which means "Drama++". Games are the odd one out because although they're effectively creative works, they're still made by what is effectively a business. If you're selling your game on any sort of serious scale, you have to be a business. It's not like the art world where someone makes a piece of art and people pay what they think it's worth. Even the music industry isn't really the same as the gaming industry, because the gaming community has an incredibly vocal interest in what developers and publishers do. Thus any business dealings aren't just business dealings, they're considered insults by the gaming community. If a developer says "We'll be going for a cross-platform release", people translate that to "We're abandoning the PC". If a developer says "We're cutting Feature X which was in the previous game" people translate that to "We're dumbing it down because we're thick." If the gaming community has demonstrated anything, it's that they don't care about the business decisions or anything like that. All we really care about is the game that we get.

Developers should get credit for their game, but publishers are doing part of the work too, and they will get a cut of the pie (and if they funded development that's not an unreasonable expectation). Likewise, as Berzee said, if a developer enters into an agreement with a publisher, that's their choice. It's just that as gamers we're ridiculously vocal about these choices and condemn most of them.

Also I sort of agree with trjp, in part that a developer who releases a crap game or doesn't go about marketing it properly and loses it all fails with good reason. I also don't agree with continually supporting developers by buying the game again and again for no good reason (and the HIB releases are the worst ones for this). Introversion were on the ropes for a while, a combination of effectively sitting on their hands hoping Multiwinia would be interesting (it was Darwinia with MP, that was never going to be enough) combined with poor marketing. If they'd hit the floor and lost it all, it would have been because of their poor business decisions. If Project Zomboid had shut up shop following that ridiculous theft, they would have deserved it for failing to properly back up their data. Developers deserve their money when they deliver, but unconditional support seems ridiculous to me, especially if they're not making good choices.

deano2099
04-02-2012, 05:47 AM
We're in a transition period. Money from GoG sales of most games now is indeed icing on the cake. It's revenue publishers didn't expect to see, because GoG didn't exist when the game was being made.

But now it does, and if games do well on there then sends a very clear message: that games can sell well past their first month, year or even decade. And those sales can be quantified and used to predict sales on future games. Any publisher putting out new PC games now should be considering the long-term sales, either through GoG or just continuous availability on Steam or wherever. It gives a bit more money to play with, and also encourages the production of games that people will want to go back and play in ten years' time.

icemann
04-02-2012, 06:18 AM
Well any case of where a company gobbled up another one (eg the numerous take overs that EA has done over the decades) would be one case of where it happens.

Wizardry
04-02-2012, 04:38 PM
It gives a bit more money to play with, and also encourages the production of games that people will want to go back and play in ten years' time.
No it doesn't.

trjp
04-02-2012, 11:02 PM
What Wizardry said - pretty much the only thing which guarantees a developer will do more of what they do is strong initial sales of a title (pre-orders + first few weeks at most) - same as movies where the opening weekend is king.

This is why DRM remains popular with many developers - because if it can stop pre-release and first-week piracy, they've reduced damage in THE most sensitive time. After that, it's arguable most developers working through publishers don't care about sales and any remaining royalties etc are - at best - gravy.

BenWah
04-02-2012, 11:13 PM
I buy a game because I want to play it.

As long as the money isn't going towards slave labor or abortion or whatever, that's about as deep as I'm going to get into worrying where exactly the money goes.

Even if the money goes for some atrocity I have a hard time giving up say chocolate because kids are oppressed harvesting cocoa in east africa. I just hope the chocolate bars I eat don't come from the bad farms.

I wonder if some of these developers have programmers chained to the basement who are only fed oatmeal if they produce enough. I once had a job like that.

OK, it would be nice if the purchase money could go towards the developer having a big juicy pizza, a good one if the game turns out good. If the game is junk I hope he gets indigestion.

If someone unrelated bought the rights, well that's the joys of capitalism

Althea
04-02-2012, 11:35 PM
Yep, the publishers are able to make money on a game that's long since out of print, something that wouldn't happen with second hand sales.
Yeah, this is a good point, and one I wish other publishers (and developers) would think about. See, it's all well and good sitting on the rights to something, but it's not making you any money. For what is a small legal expense, you can strike a deal with GOG and have a new cash flow coming in. Even if it's $100 a month, it's money you didn't have, it's increasing the profile of your franchises and it stops them stagnating - arguably it could even be used to protect your copyrights and/or trademarks as they're "in use".

As for GOG taking a cut - I'm sure some games are more work than others, but really do they spend all that much on getting a game working? Some of the newer titles (the ones from 1C - King's Bounty, Fantasy Wars) will require little to no tweaking, whereas some older ones may require a lot. I would guess most are simply put in an artificial environment (such as DOSBox) which allows them to work.

Tams80
04-02-2012, 11:36 PM
Your thinking as if most developers get msot of the money from the games they make. Only independents and affiliated developers (the publisher just produces disks and might do marketing) do.

A lot of development studios aren't independent and thus are effectively employees of a publisher (or the publisher is effectively a big developer). In other words they have a set salary, probably with a bonus if they game they work on does well. If a game does well, the developer that produced is more likely to remain intact and sequels ordered. They might receive more funding. The developer effectively becomes 'the group of game developers who made that game' though.

deano2099
04-02-2012, 11:42 PM
What Wizardry said - pretty much the only thing which guarantees a developer will do more of what they do is strong initial sales of a title (pre-orders + first few weeks at most) - same as movies where the opening weekend is king.

This is why DRM remains popular with many developers - because if it can stop pre-release and first-week piracy, they've reduced damage in THE most sensitive time. After that, it's arguable most developers working through publishers don't care about sales and any remaining royalties etc are - at best - gravy.

You're begging the question. The reason publishers are obsessed with sales early on is because there's no secondary market outside of second-hand sales. It's because re-printing the game is rarely worth it, it's because high street stores won't stock older titles when there are newer ones, and it's because you often can't get old games working on newer systems.

The point is that if you establish a legacy market, you can and will care about that as an income stream.

Althea
05-02-2012, 09:53 AM
The point is that if you establish a legacy market, you can and will care about that as an income stream.
We have a massive legacy market in the UK, I think. A lot of non-game stores carry legacy titles, for example you can go into some branches of WH Smith (a newsagent/book store) and they often have a display of Focus-distributed titles like Tom Cuhlancey games or Company of Heroes.

It's awesome. Focus and Mastertronic must do amazingly well here - or at least they used to.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 10:04 AM
If someone unrelated bought the rights, well that's the joys of capitalism

It's at this point where I declare my utter lack of compunction from stealing the fuck outta their works. Baby, it's capitalism.

What, moral arguments? This is an industry where it's all about the starving programmers of creative works, until they get laid off the day before release. Where producers twist the very concept of property to allow themselves the ability to sell you something and retain ownership of it at the same time. Where they destroy an entire legal market because it was cutting into their profit margin. Where loyal consumers are the first to get burned through nickel-and-diming, through rootkit DRM, through mediocrity - mediocrity that's enforced by the wholesale purchase of games journalists, dangling the carrot of pre-release games and the stick of review blackouts.

And here we are debating whether or not they have the right to dictate to us just how we're supposed to be customers to them, like their profits are expected and we should be glad they're selling to us in the first place. Fuck 'em!

Ravenger
05-02-2012, 10:48 AM
I've got direct experience of this, as a couple of games I worked on are available on GOG, and I don't see a penny in royalties. I had a pretty senior role on one of them too, so it's not just a case of a junior programmer or artist not getting royalties.

My ex-boss owns the IP rights to the games, and he didn't even know the games were available on GOG until I told him!

To be honest, I'd much rather the games were still on-sale and people playing and enjoying them than have them disappear entirely, but it's a shame that those who actually created the games don't see a penny, whilst the companies that published the games get to profit from their work.

R-F
05-02-2012, 11:31 AM
Games whose purchase proceeds no longer go to the developers: All those published by publishers.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 11:38 AM
Games whose purchase proceeds no longer go to the developers: All those published by publishers.

It's still pretty much like the record companies: "W-what?! You can't screw the artists! That's our job!"

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 11:39 AM
I've got direct experience of this, as a couple of games I worked on are available on GOG, and I don't see a penny in royalties. I had a pretty senior role on one of them too, so it's not just a case of a junior programmer or artist not getting royalties.

My ex-boss owns the IP rights to the games, and he didn't even know the games were available on GOG until I told him!

To be honest, I'd much rather the games were still on-sale and people playing and enjoying them than have them disappear entirely, but it's a shame that those who actually created the games don't see a penny, whilst the companies that published the games get to profit from their work.

Yeah I think it sucks. I'm not exactly sure how the royalty system works on TV and film. Obviously big stars and writers get some revenue from repeat broadcasting (same as musicians) however it's not clear whether all the other people involved (camera men, etc) get a slice. I suspect not.

Ultimately though I suspect once all the division is done it probably only amounts to a few $ a year extra income lost, but what's more important is that you can point to a game and say 'I worked on that' and people are still able to play it today.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 11:40 AM
I suspect not.

They don't.


but what's more important is that you can point to a game and say 'I worked on that' and people are still able to play it today.

You can't pay the rent with pride.

Althea
05-02-2012, 11:47 AM
I've got direct experience of this, as a couple of games I worked on are available on GOG, and I don't see a penny in royalties. I had a pretty senior role on one of them too, so it's not just a case of a junior programmer or artist not getting royalties.
Did you sign a contract for royalties, though? If not, then they have no legal nor moral obligation to pay you. I assume you were paid your wages for which ever game(s) you worked on, right? Well, they've fulfilled their side of it.


My ex-boss owns the IP rights to the games, and he didn't even know the games were available on GOG until I told him!
That sounds unlikely. Unless I'm missing something such as a license agreement (i.e. they license the IP from him and can do various things with it), I find that hard to believe.


To be honest, I'd much rather the games were still on-sale and people playing and enjoying them than have them disappear entirely, but it's a shame that those who actually created the games don't see a penny, whilst the companies that published the games get to profit from their work.
It's a shame that those who created the game(s) were paid for their work at the time and that the publisher didn't put in any precautions for a legacy game distributor a decade or two in the future? It's a shame that a company is making profit? I don't think it's a shame - I think the shame is that publishers are sat on various licenses and aren't using them, and I think that's a bigger affront to the developers/creators than not chasing said (ex-)employees down to pay them <1% of the royalties for a game they made 15 years ago. The costs involved in calculating, processing and supporting said payments must really be financially unsound. They have to track down the employees, negotiate with them and so forth. It's hardly a realistic situation, isn't it?

I get your point, but I disagree with you simply because GOG is not something that could have been foreseen. There is no way Ubisoft, EA, Activision et al could have even predicted something like GOG, nor its success, and as such they didn't really make provisions for it.



You can't pay the rent with pride.
If making your rent payments would depend on the minute royalties from a 15 year old game, I think you've got bigger issues than this.

I doubt any publisher involved with GOG (beyond CDP) would be able to pay their rent with the proceeds from GOG sales.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 11:53 AM
nor moral obligation

What does morality have to do with any of this shit?


If making your rent payments would depend on the minute royalties from a 15 year old game, I think you've got bigger issues than this.

If signing your rights away for a paycheck today is an acceptable system, then yes, we clearly have bigger motherfucking issues.

Althea
05-02-2012, 11:56 AM
What does morality have to do with any of this shit?
Just covering my bases.

agentorange
05-02-2012, 12:01 PM
I get your point, but I disagree with you simply because GOG is not something that could have been foreseen. There is no way Ubisoft, EA, Activision et al could have even predicted something like GOG, nor its success, and as such they didn't really make provisions for it.


I guess they'd never heard of people getting royalties from books, tv, films?

BillButNotBen
05-02-2012, 12:02 PM
Most people in most industries don't get paid royalties on their work. the best they can hope for is a bonus.

Maybe that will change in the future, but it's all down to the contracts that people sign. the fact of a developer being solvent or not probably has no bearing on the payments most coders would receive.

It's rather crazy how there seems to be a universal attitude that developers are exploited angels and publishers are the devil. It's the publishers who put up the money for the project, pay the wages of the developers, pay for the advertising and the pressing of cds and packaging. they do that, knowing full well they'll lose money on half the titles, because when they manage to get a hit they'll receive the profits from that.

Even if the original publisher has gone bankrupt, their rights were then bought by someone else, and that money was used to pay the people that the publisher owed, so that new rights holder is perfectly entitled to receive the profits from the license that they paid for, which the original developer paid for, which the developers were paid to produce.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 12:02 PM
Just covering my bases.

You know who pays the rent with royalties? The publishers. Hell, theirs is the largest share.


It's rather crazy how there seems to be a universal attitude that developers are exploited angels and publishers are the devil. It's the publishers who put up the money for the project, pay the wages of the developers, pay for the advertising and the pressing of cds and packaging. they do that, knowing full well they'll lose money on half the titles, because when they manage to get a hit they'll receive the profits from that.

What part of any of that shit is actual labor? That's just making money by virtue of having money. Those poor exploited producers.

Althea
05-02-2012, 12:04 PM
I guess they'd never heard of people getting royalties from books, tv, films?
I'm guessing they have, but the game market is much more volatile than any of those. Games stay in print longer now, they're available from more sources and so forth. 15 years ago, that wasn't the case. You might have budget label reprints, but that's about it.

It's also likely just the main actors in TV/film that get royalties, probably not the crew. When you consider how many people are involved in making films and TV shows (and, by extension, games), it's just not feasible to offer royalties to everyone and maintain the ability to continue paying them.


You know who pays the rent with royalties? The publishers. Hell, theirs is the largest share.
Of a game sale in the mainstream market, sure. It's likely the case with GOG, too. But the sales on GOG will not be in their millions. I would guess that titles are lucky to do 20k sales a year there at best - and that's half of what The Witcher 2 did on GOG (which I would assume is "artifically" high due to GOG being the place to get TW2). It might pay the rent for one studio for a year, but publishers will not sink if they didn't have the money from GOG. In fact, it's probably "free money" for them.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 12:07 PM
It's also likely just the main actors in TV/film that get royalties, probably not the crew. When you consider how many people are involved in making films and TV shows (and, by extension, games), it's just not feasible to offer royalties to everyone and maintain the ability to continue paying them.

Every label ever makes its money through its IPs. Why, if royalties didn't pay, do they keep demanding them?

Althea
05-02-2012, 12:10 PM
Every label ever makes its money through its IPs. Why, if royalties didn't pay, do they keep demanding them?
What? I'm not saying royalties don't pay. I'm saying that when you consider (with GOG) the pricing and the sales figures, and the other assorted costs, you would be talking tiny amounts of money a year in royalties (if you were a developer of the game), so much so that I would guess it would cost the publisher more to track you down and sign a royalties agreement.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 12:12 PM
so much so that I would guess it would cost the publisher more to track you down and sign a royalties agreement.

Are you arguing that they should continue existing because NOT exploiting the actual labor is too troublesome?

Because if not, you've pretty much given perfect reason why they should die.

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 12:20 PM
If making your rent payments would depend on the minute royalties from a 15 year old game, I think you've got bigger issues than this.

Indeed. Still don't expect reason from Nalano on anything that gives him an opportunity to rail against the worlds biggest evil (at length) which apparently happens to be game publishers (who'd of thunk it).

/cue more ranting no doubt

Althea
05-02-2012, 12:24 PM
Are you arguing that they should continue existing because NOT exploiting the actual labor is too troublesome?

Because if not, you've pretty much given perfect reason why they should die.
Who should continue existing? I think publishers should continue to exist because they finance, market and produce entertainment for public consumption. I think developers should continue to exist because they create, design and develop (no shit, huh?) said entertainment. Distributors like GOG, Steam, GamersGate et al should continue to exist because they facilitate and market the entertainment.

But not everything is financially viable. When you consider the amount of games from, say, Ubisoft on GOG, how is it at all viable for Ubisoft to go around each studio (not all of which exist anymore - see New World Computing) and track down every single member of staff (or their families if they passed away), provide royalty agreements drafted up by lawyers and accountants and so on and so forth. You cannot honestly tell me you think the publishers should take a hit in order to pay out tiny sums of money to (potentially) hundreds of people each year. It doesn't make any sense, and they have no legal obligation to do so.

Nalano
05-02-2012, 12:26 PM
Indeed. Still don't expect reason from Nalano on anything that gives him an opportunity to rail against the worlds biggest evil (at length) which apparently happens to be game publishers (who'd of thunk it).

The only thing more tiresome than your continued misrepresentation of the arguments of those you dislike is your intolerable condescension when you do so.


Who should continue existing? I think publishers should continue to exist because they finance, market and produce entertainment for public consumption.

Oh, they're public utilities. I get it.

Seriously. No.

Althea
05-02-2012, 12:30 PM
Oh, they're public utilities. I get it.

Seriously. No.
They provide a service to the public in exchange for money. Entertainment is a service, and one we all need, whether it's a knitting club on a Sunday afternoon, a trip to a burlesque club on a Friday night or playing Bulletstorm on a Saturday morning. They provide that service, and we pay for it.

They're not public utilities, they're private establishments - just like bars, clubs, theatres, theme parks and so forth. They're there to make money at the end of the day, but they still provide services.

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 12:40 PM
The overheads on large game production are such that bar a few exceptions (Valve) it's beyond the financial means of most developers alone to finance their production without outside investment/support (Even ID needed to sign up to someone). Without financial backing, there would be no Mass Effects, Skyrims or GTAs.

As regards exploitation. Where not talking about an industry where in the individuals involved are unskilled. Plain truth of the matter is, if you have a talent for something then there will always be opportunities for you. Same as any other profession.

Drake Sigar
05-02-2012, 12:45 PM
Most bars and clubs probably don't demand the rights to the songs of bands they've hired.

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 12:49 PM
Most bars and clubs probably don't demand the rights to the songs of bands they've hired.

False analogy.

Drake Sigar
05-02-2012, 12:59 PM
No it isn't. It's apt. Apt!

Porcupeth
05-02-2012, 01:06 PM
Publishers aren't necessary, specially now. That time is gone.

Althea
05-02-2012, 01:10 PM
Publishers aren't necessary, specially now. That time is gone.
But they are. Indie devs are doing great, but that's because of a few break-out hits, mentions on sites like RPS, features in PC Gamer/being on its discs and, more recently, due to Steam selling indie games like Dredmor or Sanctum.

Even a few years back, indie games would have had a much harder time selling. It's only thanks to things like Steam and sites like RPS that they're really taking off in a big way. Games like Super Meat Boy and Minecraft - they're the minorities in indie games.

agentorange
05-02-2012, 01:19 PM
But they are. Indie devs are doing great, but that's because of a few break-out hits, mentions on sites like RPS, features in PC Gamer/being on its discs and, more recently, due to Steam selling indie games like Dredmor or Sanctum.

Even a few years back, indie games would have had a much harder time selling. It's only thanks to things like Steam and sites like RPS that they're really taking off in a big way. Games like Super Meat Boy and Minecraft - they're the minorities in indie games.

Yeah, but, Steam IS a thing now. It doesn't matter if it wasn't around before, it is now. The iadvent of independent internet publishing has made publishers less important (across all industries). It's really only the extremely big budgeted titles that require publishers, due to the fact that they absolutely have to move large quantities of games to recoup the costs of development.

Althea
05-02-2012, 01:26 PM
Yeah, but, Steam IS a thing now. It doesn't matter if it wasn't around before, it is now. The iadvent of independent internet publishing has made publishers less important (across all industries). It's really only the extremely big budgeted titles that require publishers, due to the fact that they absolutely have to move large quantities of games to recoup the costs of development.
I still think publishers are needed - I think Valve's... inability to do anything on time (and Blizzard's) is proof enough. If there's no publisher breathing down their back, there's a chance that the developer will take liberties with schedules. Yeah, some publishers push things out too early, but some don't.

I think Paradox are an example of a publisher that seems to have a good balance. It pushes out a lot of titles from different studios, it distributes some titles, and it keeps others going. If it wasn't for Paradox, what would have happened to SotS II?

Porcupeth
05-02-2012, 01:28 PM
But they are. Indie devs are doing great, but that's because of a few break-out hits, mentions on sites like RPS, features in PC Gamer/being on its discs and, more recently, due to Steam selling indie games like Dredmor or Sanctum.

Even a few years back, indie games would have had a much harder time selling. It's only thanks to things like Steam and sites like RPS that they're really taking off in a big way. Games like Super Meat Boy and Minecraft - they're the minorities in indie games.

There's a lot more "indie" games that did well. Why only talk about the "big players"? Devs don't need to become filthy rich, specially at their first attempt.
And please don't talk about those 2 games to me ;[ makes me sad that much better games are a lot less successful. Damn people and their tastes!

agentorange
05-02-2012, 01:33 PM
I still think publishers are needed - I think Valve's... inability to do anything on time (and Blizzard's) is proof enough. If there's no publisher breathing down their back, there's a chance that the developer will take liberties with schedules. Yeah, some publishers push things out too early, but some don't.

I think Paradox are an example of a publisher that seems to have a good balance. It pushes out a lot of titles from different studios, it distributes some titles, and it keeps others going. If it wasn't for Paradox, what would have happened to SotS II?

What do you mean "on time"? Valve rarely promise dates, they don't have anything to be on time for.

soldant
05-02-2012, 01:34 PM
Althea does make a good point: really I think it'd be a bit ridiculous for everyone on the team to keep receiving royalties on all these old games. It'd be a bitch to track the lot of them down and figure out how much they should get. They were paid for their original work, and that meant a publisher took a risk in investing knowing that they could have got a game which nobody liked and didn't sell well. The devs were paid to develop it, and they did. If they aren't entitled to royalties legally, if they signed up knowing that they wouldn't get them, then that's their problem.

That said that's one of my biggest problems with GOG and one of the things I don't see much of a problem with piracy: old games worth nothing to publishers, or where publishers/developers are defunct. I don't morally see why we should have to buy them when the original devs are well defunct and the publishers have moved on and don't care.

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 01:40 PM
No it isn't. It's apt. Apt!

The engagements are entirely asynchronous, so attempt to draw parallels is a falsehood. A band is paid to perform at an event (one of many), where as a game developer is paid to work on a project for a sustained period. In the event that they don't own the IP then the more realistic parallel is that of comparing a developer to a session musician working on someone else's album.

Althea
05-02-2012, 01:48 PM
There's a lot more "indie" games that did well. Why only talk about the "big players"? Devs don't need to become filthy rich, specially at their first attempt.
And please don't talk about those 2 games to me ;[ makes me sad that much better games are a lot less successful. Damn people and their tastes!
Yes, there are more games that did well - but SMB and Minecraft are two of the "poster boys" for indie development. There's Terraria, Sanctum (no, I will not shut up about Sanctum) and Dredmor - just to name a few. Indie games have been around for, well, as long as games have been, but they've never seen the success they do now if they get on Steam and other popular digital stores. Some are even getting retail releases thanks to companies like Lace Mamba Global.


What do you mean "on time"? Valve rarely promise dates, they don't have anything to be on time for.
Portal 2 DLC - said it would be released in Summer 2011. It didn't happen. L4D/L4D2 also had a similar situation with The Passing DLC and comic, I believe.

But regardless of them giving dates, their lack of good timing is absolutely shameful. If EA, Activision, Ubisoft or any other publisher cocked releases and dates up as much as Valve did, they'd be utterly torn to shreds on boards. But no, because "Everyone Loves Valve(tm)", it's fine that they can not release anything within a reasonable time frame, so much so that it's become an in-joke - Valve Time. It used to be funny, it used to be "Oh, they said a week? They mean a month", but now their inability to even hit a single season is just ridiculous. They know people will buy it regardless of whether they release on time or not, and they don't have anyone breathing down their necks to get something out on time. That's bad.

archonsod
05-02-2012, 02:10 PM
Obviously big stars and writers get some revenue from repeat broadcasting (same as musicians)
Not unless they're big enough that they can demand a cut of royalties rather than the more usual up-front fee, which is pretty rare.

It's kinda the problem with the whole argument here. The people who actually produce the stuff (whether movie or game) accept an upfront fee (whether a one time fee, or the salary they got for the five years they were working on it), usually paid for by the company. In return, the company pockets the money the product makes when it hits the market. Because it's the publisher who takes on all the risk. I mean you can argue that a developer of a multi-million selling title should get more money from the sales, but at the same time you're also arguing that if they happen to develop a game which doesn't do very well they should have money taken off them, which I suspect most would have an issue with.




If signing your rights away for a paycheck today is an acceptable system, then yes, we clearly have bigger motherfucking issues.
That's generally how employment works, and has done for the past three millenia. Don't let that stop you trying to fix it though.


It's really only the extremely big budgeted titles that require publishers, due to the fact that they absolutely have to move large quantities of games to recoup the costs of development.

It's paying the costs of development in the first place. A modern game takes a few hundred people about three years or so to produce. If the publisher isn't putting up the money to pay those people you'd presumably need to find a few hundred people capable of working for free for those three years.

Shane
05-02-2012, 02:30 PM
Isn't it rare for devs to get a share of profits and royalties and just get a fixed salary, or am I missing something?

Porcupeth
05-02-2012, 02:30 PM
(no, I will not shut up about Sanctum)




I meant minecraft and SMB

Althea
05-02-2012, 02:32 PM
I meant minecraft and SMB
I know... I addressed that in my post.

Ignorant Texan
05-02-2012, 03:36 PM
Isn't it rare for devs to get a share of profits and royalties and just get a fixed salary, or am I missing something?

It's rare for the employees to get anything other than a salary. As others have stated, working for a developer is the same as working in most other creative industries. In exchange for salary and other considerations, one relinquishes any creative ownership. A good example is Ron Gilbert. Someone tweeted him that they were glad he received some money from their recent purchase of Deathspank and he sadly thanked them, while informing them he would make no more money from DS, as he had no to rights to it. In other words, while Gilbert 'created' DS and his name is the main selling point for the game, he was under a work-for-hire agreement with Hothead. I do hope Tim Schaefer drafted a contract that allows RG royalties for anything he releases through Double-Fine.

As an aside, the technical crews are on films/tv are under work-for-hire contracts. The most you can hope for is to have your name listed correctly in the credits. If the project wins an award, you may buy a copy of the statue with which you may bore visitors for years to come. An Emmy will set you back $750, I imagine other awards are similar in price. While it's not bad to have an award winner in your CV, it really is of little to no importance

deano2099
05-02-2012, 04:11 PM
In other words, while Gilbert 'created' DS and his name is the main selling point for the game, he was under a work-for-hire agreement with Hothead.

Weird, Gilbert created the character of Deathspank well before Hothead came along, guess they bought the rights wholesale.

I'm curious, do voice-actors on games get royalties? When some publishers get big Hollywood names in, I can't imagine them working without (or being allowed to under union rules). Likewise when they get big-name writers in.

We're never going to be at the point where everyone gets royalties, the problem is who do we pick to give royalties too if we follow the film model? There's not always an identifiable creative lead on a game, or a specific 'writer' or such.

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 04:20 PM
That's generally how employment works, and has done for the past three millenia. Don't let that stop you trying to fix it though.

Indeed. Raging against the machine only serves a purpose if it offers up some viable alternative.

Vexing Vision
05-02-2012, 05:19 PM
Keep in mind that usually the publishers (who are now getting the revenue) have already forwarded a large portion of the revenue they're still making 10 years later to the developers - this is what is called a licensing fee, and it's the main reason why developers don't self-publish.

Ravenger
05-02-2012, 07:32 PM
The way royalties work is the publisher gives an sum of money called an advance to the developer. This is used to finance development of the game, but the publisher subtracts the advance money from any royalties. Only if the developer earns enough royalties to pay off the advance will they earn any extra money in royalties.

Wizardry
05-02-2012, 08:17 PM
Without financial backing, there would be no Mass Effects, Skyrims or GTAs.
What's wrong with that exactly?

Nalano
05-02-2012, 08:21 PM
That's generally how employment works, and has done for the past three millenia. Don't let that stop you trying to fix it though.

And you're fine with this neo-feudalism?

Kadayi
05-02-2012, 09:26 PM
And you're fine with this neo-feudalism?

Quote for emphasis: -


Raging against the machine only serves a purpose if it offers up some viable alternative.

Where's your alternative Nalano? How would the world work under your august leadership? It's all very well to be indignant at others for accepting the world as it is, but unless you've genuinely got something constructive to bring to the table in terms of a viable approach you might as well save your breath.

archonsod
05-02-2012, 10:08 PM
And you're fine with this neo-feudalism?

Yup. Thing to remember is I also sign away any responsibility too, so if I screw up and a client launches a multi-million dollar lawsuit it's my employer rather than me who gets shafted in court. Worst thing that can happen to me is I end up looking for another job.



We're never going to be at the point where everyone gets royalties, the problem is who do we pick to give royalties too if we follow the film model? There's not always an identifiable creative lead on a game, or a specific 'writer' or such.

Why would anyone want a royalty model? The thing to remember is royalties are a gamble - if the game does well you're in pocket, if it flops you'll likely end up in debt. Now why would that be preferable over a steady salary?