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Lorne Lanning on Micro-Publishing

Oddworld: Spending $30m on games, not Ferraris and private jets on GamesIndustry International features a conversation with Lorne Lanning of Oddworld Inhabitants, who shows a defiant independence when he says his answer was "F-ck you very much" to Electronic Arts at the prospect of being acquired (an offer EA says they cannot recall making). He goes on to describe how EA pulled marketing dollars from Stranger's Wrath and offered to buy them because of the money they lost on the project. "That's not a sustainable model, that's a hostile acquisition," he explains. "That's why we had to strive to get independent. Rather than get into bed with someone we knew was a horrible bed partner we said 'let's stay virgins for longer'." Here's how he describes his outlook on being a micro-publisher since he returned to gaming:

"On the micro-publisher level it's very simple. We fund our own products," he says. "We weren't able to do that in the boxed product days, we're only able to do that in the digital distribution landscape.

"Rather than having to have 1.5 million units in the opening week or suffer death, now if we have 50,000 sales and we're still in business. People are still employed and we're able to keep making content. When we released box product we would get 20 per cent of the revenue. After that 20 per cent paid back the entire development budget, if it was still selling at $60 we would start seeing $7 a unit. Because of the bricks and mortar, the plastic, the manufacturing, the gas involved in taking games to the store, the store itself and all those extra costs - not one of those costs makes a better game for the player."

"If you're the gamer, where do you want the money of the game you're buying to go?" he asks. "I want it going to help make more games. But the majority of that money is not going to games in the boxed product market.

He continues: "Now we're on a digitally distributed landscape, instead of a $60 price point we can offer a $9.99 price point. At $9.99 we get $7 per unit. At this price you're getting a game for one sixth of the price and we're still getting money to make more games. The player is truly funding our games. We have a few hundred thousand people we can depend on as fans of Oddworld who will buy our games. If we can get that number up to 3-5 million and with the increase of what that brings to the developer, then we can start funding our own $20 - $30 million triple-A games. That's our goal."

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