The second part of Neoseeker's interview with Swen Vincke is online and focuses on the developer-publisher model and the many unresolved problems that come with it. It's an extremely interesting read an in-depth read that touches on subjects such as the antagonistic relationship between publishers and developers, how difficult it is to actually get a good contract, how developers short-term hiring practice are bad for consistency and more so it's recommended that you read it in full, but here's a snippet on the difficulties of selling a role-playing game pitch to publishers:
Swen: I've been in greenlight rooms with all of these large publishers, and it's extremely rare to find one that cares for an RPG, and if there is one it's usually the lone voice at the table. The ones sitting in that room just don't get what it is or what it means, which has a lot to do with how these executive boards are being organized. It's much more common to find those people among developers and press, to be honest.
Sean: It's understandable. Selling this grand, deep experience...it asks a lot more of you to appreciate. It makes sense a lot of them wouldn't get it or at least wouldn't be into the idea of selling it.
If they're into the idea of selling it, the moment you start explaining it to them what exactly is required to develop it, they go completely crazy; they go green with fright.
It's such a hard genre to develop, also. It has the problem that the best way of doing it is in a layered approach - that means you build slice by slice on top of each other, meaning you can only actually show the game when it's finished. For marketing departments, this is a disaster. They like a vertical slice model where you have all features at day one or almost at day one present in the game.
When you describe all that, it's a wonder RPGs get made at all anymore.
It's because you have the guys who are idealistic about it. There are a lot that want to make an RPG, but they know if they want to make a living, that's not necessarily the best message to walk into a board room with. I've been in board rooms where just mentioning fantasy RPGs is considered a bad thing - just the fact it's fantasy. I had a request from a publisher made four of five times over the course of several years - so they must've really meant it -- who said 'come to us with a real life RPG and maybe we'll consider it, but we'll never in our lives do something that's fantasy'. Which I don't get either.
The business dev guys are better known as the 'gatekeepers' - they're the guys who select which games they'll have to pitch internally. They're a very limited crowd - there's not that many of them in the world deciding which games you're going to play.