It appears that publishers in the gaming industry might not be as trustworthy as we all believe them to be. Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart while talking about the recent success of their Kickstarter game Project Eternity mentioned that they were approached by publishers who wanted them to create Kickstarter projects on their own but let the publishers keep the rights to the games. The trick was that the publishers would publish the games for Obsidian but would then want to retain rights to the game as well:
“We were actually contacted by some publishers over the last few months that wanted to use us to do a Kickstarter. 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 went on to defend the publishers as just trying to find ways to fund more creative games, and not just the same old first person shooter sequels we are getting now:
“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.”
Urquhart wouldn’t name any publisher names but this behavior doesn’t surprise me in the least. I think Urquhart was being much to nice about defending the publishers who were trying this method of basically funding a game for free.
I think the bigger issue is, should we now be more suspicious when major video game developers like Obsidian try to sell us their Kickstarter project. Publishers like EA have talked about funding games through Kickstarter before, but usually as something upfront not like this where they have someone else do it for them and reap all the benefits without the risk.
However, all this has not stopped Obsidian’s Project Eternity from raising more than 1.8 million dollars in funds, and there is still twenty-five days to go.