The influence of publishers in game development
06.03.2013 @ 21:25 #1
Many people are convinced that some publishers, say EA or Microsoft, made certain games, especially sequels, worse than they could have been if they hadn't imposed their arbitrary decisions on the development team.
So I wonder, is this true? Or rather, how much is this true? Do the publishers have so important a role in deciding what direction a project has to go in?
06.03.2013 @ 21:32 #2
Even if a publisher does not exercise control over content, the publisher ends up controlling the budget and the schedule and taking the lion's share of the revenue.
The problem with not having publishers would be that a lot more crap would be made. People fall in love with their ideas and do not realize that most of them should be strangled at birth. Not many people with big ideas, for games or other things, realize that most of their ideas will waste their time and money and either amount to nothing or hold them up to ridicule if they actually see the light of day.
The problem with publishers is that the crap that does get made is all the same. Bean counters fall in love with the idea that making sequels and remakes and lookalikes is safely profitable. So you get buyers who see how well Skyrim sold and say "This is a nice idea for an open world RPG, but you know, it would be a lot easier for me to sell to the Board of Directors if it were a lot more like Skyrim."
This is why having studios that are big and strong enough to make ambitious games funded by their own equity, and able to get these games to market without a bean counter telling them "well, it would sell more if it were more like Skyrim", is the best of possible worlds.
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06.03.2013 @ 21:40 #3
I wouldn't be too surprised if certain publishers occasionally get more involved with the content and development of a game than simply funding and marketing.
06.03.2013 @ 21:43 #4
I didn't play their earliest games (not sure about minotaur though), but other than that - pathways into darkness, all marathon games, myth, oni (with maybe the exception of PiD), I love all of them dearly. from halo onwards (coinciding with MS taking over a bit after the game was announced), it was just downhill. Destiny ("even your hamster will be able to play it"), well I have not even a sliver of hope. so, might be all coincidences (MS, EA, etc), but certainly an awful lot of coincidences.
06.03.2013 @ 21:51 #5
Wut the Melon said:
well the ds3 story is a bit of an odd one, but sure as hell the publisher has influence on how the games are done, since it has a brand it wants to protect, and won't allow games to be made in a way not adhering to their own brand image.
06.03.2013 @ 22:19 #6
06.03.2013 @ 22:19 #7
Wut the Melon said:
I wouldn't be too surprised if certain publishers occasionally get more involved with the content and development of a game than simply funding and marketing. ›››
First off, that article has been debunked since it's fake. Please back up your information wisely...
06.03.2013 @ 23:06 #9
Publishers have extremely ungrateful job. They are in high risk business, games require big budgets and they have to please both investors and players. They often do bad things from gamer's perspective, they make sometimes bad decisions, but without them there would be not high budget AAA games. Don't be surprised that someone, who risk their own 50+M$ to fund the game, wants game to be accessible for wide audience. If you don't like it, then take your own 50+M$, make an obscure/hardcore game and problem solved! But will you earn enough to make another one?
06.03.2013 @ 23:23 #10
Publishers have extremely ungrateful job. They are in high risk business, games require big budgets and they have to please both investors and players. They often do bad things from gamer's perspective, they make sometimes bad decisions, but without them there would be not high budget AAA games. Don't be surprised that someone, who risk their own 50+M$ to fund the game, wants game to be accessible for wide audience. If you don't like it, then take your own 50+M$, make an obscure/hardcore game and problem solved! But will you earn enough to make another one? ›››
well ... (most) investors want to make money and are (in this sector anyway) risk averse. what is less risky - milking a franchise where you know people will buy it anyway no matter how it will turn out, or publish a game on a new label that might or might not piss a lot of people off, and potentially tarnish your (publisher's) reputation?
06.03.2013 @ 23:47 #12
Don't blame publishers for making mostly sequels. If gamers would buy new franchises more often then publishers would be making more of them. But look at sales data, people are more eager to buy sequels of sequels (Halo, Gears of War, Call of duty) rather than to risk buying something new.
06.03.2013 @ 23:54 #13
can you show me that sort of sales data? which 3A publisher took a step with a new franchise, and failed, not because the game was bad but because the customers didn't buy into it, with a perfectly good game?
hell even the amnesia guys sold enough to make a pretty fancy 3rd iteration, and they're a niche player if I've ever seen one.
CDPR did w1, then w2, sales assumingly looking good, now w3 and a new franchise which has people wet their pants of excitement, over 2 years before the game will even optimistically reach anything close to release.
07.03.2013 @ 00:03 #14
Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning. Sales were not bad, but not enough. Their financial adventures with MMO is another matter.
Also Alan Wake had me worried. This game for me is the best non-Japanese survival horror ever made, but it was published at the same time as RDR, and sales were well below Microsoft's expectations. I kind of expected that they would drop this franchise entirely. Hopefully, we'll see AW2 sometime in the future.
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07.03.2013 @ 00:13 #15
Without publishers altogether, instead of corporate repetitive crap we would get things like The Room or Manos: The Hands of Fate.
PC does not equal Windows. Personal computers run many different operating systems, like GNU/Linux and, why not, Windows. PC games should be available for all major platforms. Let's not be handcuffed and tied to one vendor. Utilize standard, cross-platform technologies!
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07.03.2013 @ 00:18 #16
Mirror's Edge (EA), Spec Ops: The Line (Take Two), Blur (Acti-Blizz), Alpha Protocol (Sega), Saboteur (EA).
Those have flaws (just as about any game), but deliver in what they're trying to achieve, were (for the most part) critically acclaimed and aren't worse than popular franchises of the same genres, I'd say.
07.03.2013 @ 00:36 #17
The important thing is that the balance of power is right, the money people should have some power, but not all of it.
07.03.2013 @ 00:42 #18
If the CDPR folk were working with Square Enix, for example, do you think the complex narrative structure would have made it into TW? These are the people who think choice and consequence means allowing to click different buttons (Deus Ex: HR).
07.03.2013 @ 00:53 #19
The important thing is that the balance of power is right, the money people should have some power, but not all of it. ›››
Yes, I think it is exactly right. Good games and franchises are killed not by publishers, but by idiots, does not matter who they are - publishers or developers. There is this weird belief going on that every indie beginner who may be barely able to code "hello world" is a genius. Well, practically all indie games I tried are either crap, or worse then professional games. To be done well, as a rule, the games should be made by professionals, marketed by professionals, and sold by professionals. Some publishers are not too bright, or do not have a clear vision or a unique strategy, and just copy some big houses' strategies, and it does not work for them. Some developers make a lot of mistakes in game design. It is a regular thing. Plus, a market for games now is brutal, with no way to predict success or failure for any game with any certainty, with new consoles coming up, and such. So people are trying to cope in order to stay in business, and they play it safe with sequels. But smart publishers are crucial for developers, as smart developers are good for publishers.
Doomed are those who take lunacy for prophecy, and carcasses for holy arses.
07.03.2013 @ 00:55 #20
Do you really think they care about some random user's perception of their reputation? They answer to shareholders and metric data, not to some guy on the internet who likely does not have the slightest clue as to how game development and publishing works. For those who felt that EA was the worst company in business as opposed to some disgusting banking practices really need to evaluate their sense of right and wrong. If you really dislike them, buy other things and support new franchises. Don't like sequels? The average joe does not care and only wants to play with his friends. Sequels sell because it has been shown countless times that customers are more willing to buy sequels. This is why every Call of Duty iteration sells millions, as opposed to Dishonored. Games are a luxury,not some given right to anyone. Yes, there are some bad practices in the industry that need to change, but you as individual cannot dictate the power of millions ready to purchase the highly advertised, big budget game.
I am not opposed to any EA, nor am I vehemently against their games. I do support companies that deserve a lot more than they are getting. I backed Wasteland 2 and I'm recommending the Witcher games to anyone who has an interest in RPGs. I have the freedom to pick and choose the products I want to support.
It's a risky business and these investors want to experience the successes of WoW,Call of Duty, Halo. Can't lose millions over some belief that some games have to be PC only or only cater to the hardcore. Niche genres attract only a small subset of the total consumers purchasing games.