Hey everyone! Eric again… looks like I might start handling these more often. Maybe. Likely. Kinda. I don’t know. Ask Jay. I just usually write the pretty stories. He seems to think I can write more editorial pieces as well. So, here we go. If you don’t like it, not my fault. Blame the “Boss Man” and not me. I want to talk about the developer to publisher relationship in gaming today. Or at least, what was the relation and what seems to be changing about it recently. At least from my point of view. Again, Jay’s idea. I didn’t choose this… REMEMBER THAT.
Alright, I chose my game. You got yours? Good. Savor that pain. The disappointment. It wasn’t fun was it? Now think of why your choice was released in such a state. Was it the developers not caring about their product? Doubt it. Shovelware isn’t normally hyped or overly advertised. Do you think it was lack of skill of the devs? Another thing I would doubt as well, poorly made games don’t get the attention that would make people salivate over them. Done guessing? Hell, were you even guessing? Most of us know the reason. Publishers pushed for the developers to push the game out early, just to pad their financial quarter; make the holiday season; capitalize on a lull in the market, or any number of reasons. But the point still stands, it was rushed out far too early. And now you are paying for it. Which, is the point really… to a publisher, games are only about the money. It’s the developers that love their work. That put care into their work. All publishers do is fund the project. Seeing it as an investment, and believe me when I say they want a high return on their investment.
Who wouldn’t though, right? Money makes the world go round and we all have our means to make money. This isn’t wholly wrong on their part. And there are publishers that care for their devs. But they’re few and far between. There are milestones and deadlines to meet when you’re a developer for the publisher. Which is, again, fair. But it’s the norm to have very pushy publishers now. Even trying to drive the creative process themselves, which is usually what gives us these incomplete games.
But fear not! There has been developers that have won their freedom. Bought out their rights to be the sole controllers of their intellectual property. One of which of these companies has been Blizzard Entertainment. Yes, the makers of World of Warcraft. And it shows in their recent expansion: Legion.
Before this expansion, Blizzard was under a directive to “make one expansion a year” from their publisher– Activision. A directive that was never met. And instead, players were given content never truly spaced out properly, sometimes even too fast. But it was always the same thing at the end of an expansion: waiting near a year and eventually longer than a year from the last content patch of the previous expansion until the launch of the next one. Yet with Legion, one of their main points were them stating “We’re no longer pursuing a goal of one expansion a year” and I swear there was more cheering for that than any other announcements that BlizzCon. And this was all because they were able to buy back the majority of their company back from Activision, their publishers.
My point is this: I’m seeing less and less publisher meddling with games and their developers. Something that should have never been started to begin with in my opinion. That all said, I feel fair goals to be made during development should be met, of course. Money needs to be made. But investing money should not allow publishers to lord that money over developers’ heads. Fair goals. Milestones that are achievable. And stop pushing to get a game out earlier than it should. If publishers do not stop these habits, we’ll continue to see developers look to alternate means of funding. I’m certain more than just the two examples I gave are possible. It’s a brave new world out there.
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