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Page 1 of 7While Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is now successfully funded and moving on toward more stretch goals following the Fig campaign, I was able to sit down with Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart earlier this month - before the past week's events had transpired as this interview had to go through a transcription and review process - and talk to him about the business side of crowdfunding, the RPG sequel's design goals, their forthcoming Pillars of Eternity tabletop RPG, and much more.
Beyond that, Feargus also answers a handful of questions about sales figures on their past games, the "super secret" project being worked on by Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, their latest game pitches, and a variety of other topics. Oh, and he essentially announces that Pillars of Eternity III will be a reality:
Buck: Hi Feargus, thanks for joining me today, it's great to chat with you. We haven't had a chance to talk face-to-face for quite some time - I think the last time was right before the launch of Dungeon Siege III. I want to start off by congratulating you on the successful release and positive reception toward Tyranny.
Feargus: Thanks! It is doing well and people seem to like it. And it feels different than Pillars and it looks like Paradox is going to want us to keep on supporting it, which is great.
Buck: Excellent, that's great to hear. I'd love to hear more about your plans there, but I also want to jump over to the big news: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. You guys smashed your initial funding goal of $1.1 million in less than 24 hours.
Buck: And it's approaching $2.8 million the last time I looked.
Feargus: Yeah, I think so. We're at $2.74 million right now, and what I'm really happy about is what we're doing. Obviously, the investment is awesome but it's great to see the reward funding as well. Just because the whole crowdfunding world is very different than it was in 2012, and we didn't know where we would land.
Buck: I was curious about the investment aspect of Fig, as that is where this new platform really differs from Kickstarter. Can you talk a bit about how the selling of $1000 shares works? How do these people get a return on their investment? Are these everyday people, friends, family, companies… maybe even publishers?
Feargus: I don't know. So first off what we've been trying to do is, on that subject of knowing who is investing in things like that, we've actually been sort of very separate from Fig. We've been trying to run the reward funding part of it and not talking to Fig a lot about what's been going on since the campaign started as it related to the investment because I wanted it to be their decision as to sort of how they the investment money, what's the due diligence they're doing and things like that. So I am sort of leaving it to them to decide how we do.
Now, how does it actually work? So what we did is we sort of picked a $14 million number which was to say at $14 million of revenue for Eternity, that's where people will – whatever money they get – get their money back plus 13%. Then at that point in time in essence, the return drops by 50% and then they continue to get a return that's sort of 50% lower at that point. How the numbers will work in essence, is it will be something like, it kind of says it on the page, let me just see if I'm saying it the right way. If we get the full two and a quarter million, in essence, what happens is 16% of the money that we're getting in, up to $14 million goes to the investors and then after that 8% goes to them.
So that's kind of how it works, they'll get a return, they'll get their money back plus the return at $14 million and then the speed of the return will go down by half.
Buck: Wow. Does that entitle them to any of the pledging rewards? Do they even get a copy of the game?
Feargus: No. It's interesting; we originally wanted to do that but it kind of creates this weird – it's sort of like, is that then part of their return? Now, there has to be tax documents that say this is the return they're getting including the game. And it was just like, while it seems silly that we can't give them a game for investing, there was tax reasons on why it was complicated.
Buck: I suppose. I can imagine the complications that might occur there. Do you have any insights at all into who these people are that are buying shares?
Feargus: No, I haven't looked into it. I mean, what I'm going to do is that when it's over I'm going to look at it and be interested in it. To be honest, I was kind of shocked that we were sort of getting the kind of response that we did because the return we're giving people isn't as good as for Wasteland or some of the other games. But the reason for that was we're only keeping people's money for about a year, like 12 to 15 months. And compared to three years of Wasteland. So Wasteland has to give a higher return, that kind of faster rate return. Forgive me, I forget, it's 32% or 36% or something like that where we're giving 13% because that was my idea. We're keeping your money for about 13 months then I should pay you a 13% return, and then if the game does pretty successfully, after that then you give them the investor share in that as well.
Buck: That's a great return on any investment, right? 13% for 13 months - I think most people would be happy with that.
Feargus: Most people will take that, yeah. But like an institutional investor, like a venture capitalist or angel or something like that, they have no interest in something like that. They want to know that if I'm going to have their money for a year that I'm going to be giving them 25%.
Actually 25% is the wrong number. Giving them like 30% to 40%.
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