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With Kickstarter, traditional game publishers will evolve or die

Clearly, publishers are going to need to evolve the way they do business in this new Kickstarter age of crowd-funded game development, but if this recent anecdote is any indication, they aren't quite there yet.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

September 19, 2012

2 Min Read

"I said to them, 'So, you want us to do a Kickstarter using our name ... 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.'"

- Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart describes (quote edited slightly for clarity) a very tempting deal a publisher tried to strike with his company in order to get a game funded through Kickstarter. Obsidian's self-published Project Eternity, if you've somehow missed it, has managed to raise over $1.6 million in the last five days, and still has nearly four weeks left of funding to go. I've been wondering lately how the traditional game publishing world will change now that crowdsourcing game development is, I can say with confidence, here to stay. If this anecdote is any indication, they still haven't figured that out. I'm not saying that publishers are on the verge of extinction, here. Even in this new Kickstarter age where developers can get funding directly from their players, there are still a lot of really annoying things you have to worry about in order to get a game out the door that, frankly, have nothing to do with actually creating games. But clearly, for smaller-scale games made by studios with an extensive fan base like Obsidian, this sort of "publishing" model makes absolutely no sense. If publishers want to tap into crowdfunding to get a game off the ground, they're going to have to evolve into less of a gatekeeper and more of a strict marketing and publicity service that lifts some of the burden off of the people actually making the product. Kind of sounds like a role reversal, doesn't it?

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