Send News. Want a reply? Read this. More in the FAQ.   News Forum - All Forums - Mobile - PDA - RSS Headlines  RSS Headlines   Twitter  Twitter
Customize
User Settings
Styles:
LAN Parties
Upcoming one-time events:

Regularly scheduled events

Chris Avellone Interview

An interview on Gamasutra chats with Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment about their upcoming Project Eternity, as well as some of the old school RPGs that inspired this upcoming release and the successful Kickstarter that got the project underway. He offers the following outlook on what RPGs like this fell out of favor with publishers:

I don't know if I have a good answer for that. I do know that there's one technical limitation: when you're developing an RPG for the consoles -- which most publishers want because it generates the most revenue -- it's often very difficult to control a party of characters, with either the PlayStation controller or the Xbox controller. So that immediately causes you to change the dynamic of how you design the RPG. You can have two party members with you [the player], but you've got to recognize that that consumes a lot of memory right then and there. And you also have to set their AI states -- you're not really controlling them.

A lot of those [Infinity Engine] titles were PC-only, and that's not really an appealing pitch to any publisher. They don't really want a PC-only title, because that's not going to maximize their revenue.

View
21 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
< Newer [ 1 2 ] Older >

21. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 17:22 Beamer
 
Jerykk wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:32:
Muscular Beaver wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 09:47:
eRe4s3r wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 17:23:
I am always amazed at how useless and broken Publishers can be to be honest. Sure 4 million is nothing in cash for a AAA title but there are a LOT of people who loved Baldurs Gate 2 or Torment. And yet it takes Obsidian as a DEVELOPER and some guts and 100k public investors who simply have HOPE to get it made, instead of a publisher, who's entire fucking business model and even reason of existence was supposed to allow for funding of "hit and miss" games were success was not guaranteed but which would need funding far above what anyone could privately organize.

Publishers really do everything they can to put themselves into a niche where a single flop means the end of their entire business. Does that sound like smart business to anyone?

EA for example said two thirds of the development costs are being used for public relations, sometimes much more. Thats a lot, and without it, 4 million really does seem reasonable.

$4 million is extremely little for a AAA game. $4 million is usually the cost of a AAA game's prototype. The full game usually ranges from $20-40 million, with 2-3 times as much for marketing.

This is an exaggeration. Battlefield 3 had one of the largest marketing budgets at $50MM. MW3 and BLOPS2 is probably $15MM-$20MM more than that. The BF3 budget was estimated at around $25MM, so you're right about 2x more.

But that isn't overly common. That's for the biggest games, or in some cases an attempt to save the biggest flops. A $70MM movie typically has a $35MM marketing budget. I'd guess the average video game marketing budget is a bit less, in absolute dollars. $20-30MM.

Can't find any video game stats, so happy to have an interesting discussion. Long story short, still an enormous amount.
 
-------------
Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
20. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 17:02 Creston
 
nin wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:34:
Doma wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:31:
Muscular Beaver wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:15:
Not even for that. Imagine the GTA developers doing a crowd funding project. I am willing to bet they would get more money than they got from publishers.

GTA 4 costs $100 million ...



But how much of that is marketing? And how much for music licensing?

I don't doubt it's an expensive genre (at all), but I think it could be done cheaper with a lot of the gameplay intact.


Their music licensing bill for Vice City was absurd. I can't remember what it was exactly, and trying to find it now just gets you to the "Vice City removed from steam because of music licensing issues!" but it was somewhere in the 30 to 50 million bucks range.

If they got Joco to do some songs and didn't have an ad on every single major advertisement slot on TV for six months, I'm pretty sure their total bill would be quite a bit lower.

Creston
 
Avatar 15604
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
19. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 12:34 nin
 
Doma wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:31:
Muscular Beaver wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:15:
Not even for that. Imagine the GTA developers doing a crowd funding project. I am willing to bet they would get more money than they got from publishers.

GTA 4 costs $100 million ...



But how much of that is marketing? And how much for music licensing?

I don't doubt it's an expensive genre (at all), but I think it could be done cheaper with a lot of the gameplay intact.

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
18. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 12:32 Jerykk
 
Muscular Beaver wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 09:47:
eRe4s3r wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 17:23:
I am always amazed at how useless and broken Publishers can be to be honest. Sure 4 million is nothing in cash for a AAA title but there are a LOT of people who loved Baldurs Gate 2 or Torment. And yet it takes Obsidian as a DEVELOPER and some guts and 100k public investors who simply have HOPE to get it made, instead of a publisher, who's entire fucking business model and even reason of existence was supposed to allow for funding of "hit and miss" games were success was not guaranteed but which would need funding far above what anyone could privately organize.

Publishers really do everything they can to put themselves into a niche where a single flop means the end of their entire business. Does that sound like smart business to anyone?

EA for example said two thirds of the development costs are being used for public relations, sometimes much more. Thats a lot, and without it, 4 million really does seem reasonable.

$4 million is extremely little for a AAA game. $4 million is usually the cost of a AAA game's prototype. The full game usually ranges from $20-40 million, with 2-3 times as much for marketing.
 
Avatar 20715
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
17. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 12:31 Doma
 
Muscular Beaver wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 12:15:
Not even for that. Imagine the GTA developers doing a crowd funding project. I am willing to bet they would get more money than they got from publishers.

GTA 4 costs $100 million ...

 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
16. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 12:15 Muscular Beaver
 
Not even for that. Imagine the GTA developers doing a crowd funding project. I am willing to bet they would get more money than they got from publishers.  
Avatar 12928
 
Oh that is so lame... You will PAY for your use of inappropriate dialogue!
- Mojo Jojo
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
15. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 11:57 Creston
 
Fuck publishers. If we can crowdfund games to the tune of 4 to 6 million dollars, do we really need them anymore except for the occasional Skyrim / GTA style extravaganza?

Creston
 
Avatar 15604
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
14. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 09:47 Muscular Beaver
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 17:23:
I am always amazed at how useless and broken Publishers can be to be honest. Sure 4 million is nothing in cash for a AAA title but there are a LOT of people who loved Baldurs Gate 2 or Torment. And yet it takes Obsidian as a DEVELOPER and some guts and 100k public investors who simply have HOPE to get it made, instead of a publisher, who's entire fucking business model and even reason of existence was supposed to allow for funding of "hit and miss" games were success was not guaranteed but which would need funding far above what anyone could privately organize.

Publishers really do everything they can to put themselves into a niche where a single flop means the end of their entire business. Does that sound like smart business to anyone?

EA for example said two thirds of the development costs are being used for public relations, sometimes much more. Thats a lot, and without it, 4 million really does seem reasonable.
 
Avatar 12928
 
Oh that is so lame... You will PAY for your use of inappropriate dialogue!
- Mojo Jojo
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
13. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 09:30 s1mon75
 
Bhahaha "They don't really want a PC-only title, because that's not going to maximize their revenue". Continue to make shit and you wont make money.

The above is the same reason why a lot of publishers have moved away from Demo's. There is a lot of shit out there, and 20 minutes or less is all i need to decide if a game is worth buying.
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
12. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 07:16 Ozmodan
 
The entire problem resolves down to wall street. If a business is not making insane profits they get downgraded. I love it when a business stands up to those idiots. Costco recently was told they needed to cut employee salaries to get their profits higher and the ceo flipped wall street a middle finger. Have to support companies like that. Now if we could only find a gaming company willing to do that.  
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
11. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 04:06 InBlack
 
Project Eternity looks really inviting. Cant wait for some of these kickstarters to get completed....or not.

Oh yeah, and fuck publishers!
 
Avatar 46994
 
I have a nifty blue line!
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
10. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 03:55 NewMaxx
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 17:23:
Publishers really do everything they can to put themselves into a niche where a single flop means the end of their entire business. Does that sound like smart business to anyone?

Pretty much all entertainment falls into this category. This has been true since, well, not long after popular media arose from the Enlightenment. It's just that it takes time to hit new industries and novel forms of entertainment. This by no means excuses it, it just explains it; and yes, I could go as far as suggesting this applies to the concept of popular sovereignty and populism, etc.

Essentially, there's a critical point whereby what was once a noble pursuit degrades into pure pandering. It has as much to do with democracy as it does capitalism; it's not greed, it's making money off what the people think they want. They think they want want media and social interaction tells them too, a deadly feedback loop.

You end up with make or break bets that either puts you in first place or has you liquidate and change names. Either way, the people that matter the most - the artists - become brands themselves. Good things can still come from them, but it's an inherently flawed system.
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
9. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 3, 2012, 00:26 Optional Nickname!
 
How do you change the nature of an Industry?


Given that Patronage supports Craftsmanship whereas Industry supports Mass-production, I leave it to the competent reader to flesh out the comparisons and contrasts for themselves.

It's really that simple.
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
8. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 19:26 nin
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 19:03:
Well, from the looks of the kickstarter, sure seems like there was a market for this kind of thing. Stupid publishers. There's a good reason that those old infinity engine games were so popular: they were fun as hell to play while also telling a compelling story.

Hey, let them continue to be stupid. I love cutting them out of the middle and letting the devs work directly with the fans.

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
7. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 19:23 Mashiki Amiketo
 
jdreyer wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 19:03:
Well, from the looks of the kickstarter, sure seems like there was a market for this kind of thing. Stupid publishers. There's a good reason that those old infinity engine games were so popular: they were fun as hell to play while also telling a compelling story.
Here, allow me to show you the movie industry. Now compare, gaming industry. See any differences today?
 
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
6. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 19:03 jdreyer
 
Well, from the looks of the kickstarter, sure seems like there was a market for this kind of thing. Stupid publishers. There's a good reason that those old infinity engine games were so popular: they were fun as hell to play while also telling a compelling story.  
Avatar 22024
 
"It's just a bunch of mystic bovine scatology to me." - 1badmf
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
5. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 18:06 eRe4s3r
 
But we ended up with lots of niches unfilled, AA RPG's , PROPER 4x games and let's not forget GOD GAMES (Sim Hospital et al). That's what really get's me.. because It makes no damn sense (not even economically)..

Kickstarter is currently soaking up all those niches and their potential and turns the ENTIRE industry around, now games are not made for profit, the "profit" is literally "making the game" because that's the only thing that's gonna get you funded. You don't sell profit expectations, you sell a hope to a game to people who WANT TO PLAY IT. Once the game is made any sale would be EXTRA profit. Can you imagine what an insanely good position this puts (some few) developers in?

Should any crowd funded Kickstarter game ever land a "hit" what would it do the publishing scene? Because I don't think big publishers would ignore that. They would have to fear developers do the entire range of development. And cut the Publisher out the equation.

I hope Kickstarting ends up giving us lots of good unique fun games. I am all for niches, fill them up, polish them up.. Paradox or Matrix Games need competition to start giving a damn about the level of bugs and lack of polish in nearly ALL of their games.

This comment was edited on Dec 2, 2012, 18:32.
 
Avatar 54727
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
4. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 17:58 Kajetan
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Dec 2, 2012, 17:23:
Publishers really do everything they can to put themselves into a niche where a single flop means the end of their entire business. Does that sound like smart business to anyone?
The main reason those games are not made anymore is the disappearance of the "middle class" publisher. Ten years ago you could make a decent profit by selling games around 500k units. Then market concentration sets in, a lot of publishers like Midway or Atari weren't able to compete with increasing developement budgets on multiplattform games and vanished. Bigger ones like Sierra were bought. Others like Codemasters or Paradox found their niche. There is nothing much else left besides small and very, VERY BIG!

And this is where crowdfunding and digital distributions steps in, filling the void.

This comment was edited on Dec 2, 2012, 18:38.
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
3. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 17:54 Eirikrautha
 
We have the classic case of economic dissonance here. As a business (or industry) grows, more oversight of the company financials are necessary. The business gets too big for just a few people to keep track of the "money" side of the business, especially when the "production" side of the business is peopled by folks who are very good at producing their product (which is why the business becomes successful in the first place) and not financial whizzes.

So what does a company do? It hires financial "professionals," people whose expertise is in leveraging the money, rather than making the product that generates said money. As the company grows, so does the role of the financial guys... until most of the people making the decisions are money-men, not product guys. Then you see the slow slide from relevance that has plagued companies since time immemorial (see IBM for a perfect case study).

The same thing has happened to the games industry. At this point, the money-men run the industry, so, like Avellone says, the publishers start looking at the rate-of-return documents rather than the actual products (i.e. games) they are creating.

That's why Kickstarter and the indie scene are so refreshing. Here's hoping the big players can't find a way to stifle these new outlets for the actual creators (as the most common response of a dying industry is to try and destroy the competition by using its finacial clout to buy laws and regulators... see the **AA groups for the case studies on this)...
 
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
2. Re: Chris Avellone Interview Dec 2, 2012, 17:28 Cutter
 
It's greed pure and simple. It's not enough for them to make a decent profit they have to make a huge one. They see CoD sales and think every game should be doing that. That's why they keep whittling down their portfolios to a few key games. Oh well, their loss because someone will always step up to fill that niche sooner or later and make a nice piece of change in the process.
 
Avatar 25394
 
James Woods: Oh that's fun. That sounds like you had a fun time. Where would I fit in with the fun time, huh? Where does James Woods fit into the fun?
Reply Quote Edit Delete Report
 
21 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
< Newer [ 1 2 ] Older >


footer

.. .. ..

Blue's News logo