The reason I’m not a financial advisor, an accountant, nor even allowed access to RPS’s bank accounts, is because my understanding of money is thus: “Ooh, look at the pretty colours! I like the blue ones best! I’ll swap you my pinks for your blues?” So it is that I look at Eurogamer’s news that Sega is suing the not-existing-any-more THQ for £630,000 with only bemusement. It seems they want the Company Of Heroes pre-order cash from Steam.
Sega bought the rights to Company Of Heroes, along with the developer Relic, for over $26m. Now they’re asking the courts to give them $941,710.93 back, since a good chunk of this was paid to THQ by Valve after they’d filed for bankruptcy. Which, er, I guess is a thing.
While the machinations of bankruptcy law, where you can buy something from a company that’s gone kaput, and then sue the kaput company for things that only happened because of the circumstances that led up to your being able to buy things in the first place, are beyond me, there are a couple of interesting things to come out of this.
First is some tidy confirmation of the 30% cut everyone already knew Valve were taking from sales. The megacorp online store owners are very shy about this figure, and make it clear to developers that they’re not allowed to reveal it. Sinister! But this case, in which a total of $1,345,301.29 was placed in pre-orders, but only $940,000 given to THQ, demonstrates that 30% figure rather precisely (to five decimal places). (30% is pretty standard for online stores, although some like Humble take a good deal less.)
It also gives some solid figures on just how significant pre-order sales are. $1.35m between September 12 and Jan 13 gives you an idea of why publishers are so keen to push their pre-order bonuses to twist customers into paying for games before they’re complete/before reviews are out there. Which obviously no one should do, to destroy this ridiculous business model that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Amen.
How successful Sega will be, having bought their way in to joining the gang trying to claim back $200m from THQ’s bankruptcy mice, remains to be seen.