Co-productions: A new potential model for game development

The co-CEO if Quantic Dream outlines a relatively unexplored path for game companies to mitigate the risks of game development and share in the rewards: co-production, especially across different regions.

In movies, co-financing and co-production are common, mostly between local active companies which don't have the means to access certain markets.

But in games, they're not so common. Guillaume De Fondaumiere, co-CEO of Quantic Dream, thinks they should be increasingly used as a way to make larger productions that smaller studios can't do alone.

"Coproductions have seldom be done in games," said Fondaumiere, speaking at Reboot Develop last week. "And maybe they won't be major in the future. But I recently went to China and saw that Square Enix and XPEC [in Taiwan] have come together to create Final Fantasy XV. They're going to co-produce it, but also co-exploit it."

Fondaumiere outlined several potential opportunities for co-production, including cost sharing, risk sharing, skill sharing, talent access, market access and expertise, and dedicated funds, such as tax credits. "If you take the two tax credits we have in France and in the UK, you'll see that there's a 1 million euro envelope specifically for co-production," he says.

But to do this, you have to be aware of the potential difficulties. "First of all, it has a cost," he says. "When two companies work together, you need infrastructure and people to make sure that it goes smoothly. You need to share revenue - here sometimes there are also problems, to get to an understanding of how you're going to share this profit. Sometimes in the past, a co-production couldn't be made possible simply because the two partners couldn't come to an agreement."

"You need to find the right partner," he adds. "That's pretty obvious. Working together on a co-production is a bit like getting engaged. You're married to each other for the rest of the project. And usually co-production will take a little bit longer, because when people work together it's a little more difficult. So you have to plan for that, and to some extent you also have a little less control over every step of the execution."

"Most of the time, developers don't work together because they don't even know this is possible," he concluded. "Co-productions exist, but we don't hear much about them. It would be interesting if people who do co-productions could talk about this more."

So now's your chance, developers -- if you have co-production experience, share what you've learned in the comments below.


[edit: an earlier version of this article stated that XPEC had the rights to distribute the game in Taiwan and China, which it does not.]

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