Arkane's founder Raphael Colantonio has told Gamasutra that, despite a major deal for their next game, a major publisher market with "10 or 15 possible [choices]" is "very, very hard".
Colantonio was talking as part of an in-depth profile
of the Lyon, France and Austin, Texas-based studio, which created Arx Fatalis
and Dark Messiah Of Might & Magic
, and is currently one of four developers working on 2K Marin's BioShock 2
The independent developer has a major "first-person immersive game with depth" signed with a retail publisher, however, and Arkane's CEO noted of the unannounced title: "We've been lucky to find a publisher that supports us and understands this kind of game and is supportive of them."
But it wasn't always that straightforward. "If I knew how hard it was going to be," says Colantonio, "I would probably not have done it. That's a common saying, and it applies to us too.
"The industry as a whole is [even] harder to get into now," says Colantonio. "It would be hard today to just come up as four people with no experience and open a company and start contacting some guys you like and hope it will work out. But somehow that's what happened to us 10 years ago.
"The hardest part is the reality and brutality of the business. The way the business is set up. We're not in an industry where one guy decides. When you meet now with the publishers, you don't really know who makes decisions. Is it the stockholder? Is it the marketing guy? Who is it? That makes it very, very, very difficult. There are probably other activities where sales are straightforward.
"We only have 10 or 15 possible clients, if you think about it. Because maybe there are 50 publishers in the world, or something of that magnitude. But the ones that are targeted for us, the ones that can publish the kind of game that we like to do, the kind of budget that we are needing, there are maybe not even 15. Maybe 10. So imagine an industry where all you have is 10 clients. And for some reason they right now do not need what you're doing.
"And then, when you try to talk to them, you don't really know inside the organization who decides. And it takes forever to decide. It might take six months. Or a year. And then the guy you've been talking to goes to another publisher. So it's not the same guy anymore and you have to start again from scratch."
The Arkane head concluded: "This business is really, really hard. And we've tried different options like working with agents. The truth is, it's just the way the business is set up.
"It's set up with a lot of people that are paid not to take any risk -- because it would go against their career. So it's easier to say no to something than say yes to something that might not turn out good. So you have to break through doors to have access to the right people."
The full interview with Arkane's Colantonio
is now available on Gamasutra, with lots more detail on previous projects like canceled title The Crossing
, as well as hopes for the future.