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Warhorse Studios' Dan VÃ¡vra has penned a new blog post to explain what the studio has been doing after the Kickstarter campaign for its open-world historical action-RPG ended. As it turns out, it has mostly been talking to publishers and distributors, sorting taxes and similar contractual hurdles, and hiring:
Seeing as it was just after both Kickstarter and the San Francisko GDC, the time was ripe for us to hook up with all the potential partners who had contacted us, i.e. primarily publishers, distributors and obviously agents of the various technologies we will be needing.
Judging by the queries we most often get, what most people are interested in is whether the publishers have wised up and are standing in line to sign us. Not entirely. If any of you thinks that Bobby Kottick caught the first flight to Prague with a bag of cash, sorry to burst your bubble. In the first place, it's not entirely kosher to do a Kickstarter campaign and then sell the game to a big publisher. And secondly the big publishers are pretty much aware that a thing like that could end up like Facebook and Oculus Rift.
What is worth considering, though, is a distribution deal one fine day we will need hundreds of thousands (one hopes) of actual boxes for the stores and for that we will need someone who knows what they're doing, because it's certainly not our thing. So cutting a deal with someone who will put the game out in their boxes and take a cut of the profits, leaving us with creative freedom, is quite a sensible option.
We've already had a whole bunch of meetings with such potential partners. We've also heard, of course, from publishers, though mostly just the ones who showed the greatest interest even before our campaign. The offers were a mixed bag and it can be said that the smaller the publisher, the more sensible the offer. It seems the big publishers have yet to grasp the concept that unless they offer serious money and accept a significant share of the risk, nobody actually needs them for anything anymore.
A funny thing happened, where a big publisher described the massive costs they intended investing in marketing, on account of which we would have to give them half our profits. Then a big, prestigious marketing agency told us they would do exactly the same thing for half the cost if we dealt directly with them. What would you do in a situation like that? A deal like that might be OK for someone who doesn't have a dime and really needs someone to pay their marketing costs. But if you do have the cash for that.?
It seems that the smaller publishers are much more sensible. I get the feeling they have a much better idea about the way the world is moving.
I've been telling everyone from the very start of the company that it would probably be best for us to put the game out ourselves (if we had the cash for it, of course). Following all the meetings, the rest of our GDC delegation also came to a similar conclusion, including our investor's representative. We can easily put out the digital version of the game for PC and console and share with smaller distributors, who have been much more forthcoming than the big guys, on the boxed game. In the past you needed a publisher as a go-between for a whole range of services that developers didn't have access to, but today the only thing they have going for them is money, and if they don't want to spread it round or you don't need it, then they're basically good for nothing.
Apart from that, we also investigated at the GDC what kind of things we were capable of doing in-house and for how much motion capture, recording, marketing, localization and other such services. We were pleasantly surprised how all of these things are developing. Only a year ago, if you wanted to do mo-cap of a face, you had to pay a company a lot of money for every second of processed film, which in our case would have meant a five figure sum in dollars, whereas today (finally) the same company will sell you the cameras and the software for a few thousand to do it yourself. Of course, you can also buy a Kinect and software from another firm and somewhat surprisingly achieve very similar results. Anyhow, this is stuff we will not have to deal with for another few months. For now, it's enough to get an idea of prices and what's on offer.