Wasteland 2 Creator Calls the Publisher/Developer Dynamic “Awful”

Illustration for article titled Wasteland 2 Creator Calls the Publisher/Developer Dynamic “Awful”

With the Kickstarter campaign for his old-school role-playing title already surpassing its goal, Brian Fargo has managed to find a path out of needing a publisher to continue making video games.


And that's good, because, according to an interview Fargo did with Ripten, publishers treat developers like crap. While developers spend the man-hours and energy making a title, publishers have the final say in how and when a game makes it out into the world. When it comes to various elements of producing a game, the amount of control over money and schedule are unfairly weighted against game developers.

Fargo uses the recent release of Fallout: New Vegas—and the Metacritic rating bonus contrioversy that followed—as an example of how developers can get screwed by a publisher:

They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA. When a project goes out buggy, it's not the developer. The developer never says, "I refuse to fix the bug," or, "I don't know how." They never do that. It's the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it's not the developer's fault. So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn't do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No.

The inXile CEO also talks about the need for future game developers to figure out what craving they can satisfy in order to find an audience and be successful.

I would encourage anyone to find their niche market, their audience and start a relationship… If I had pitched another Call of Duty project, I probably wouldn't have gotten funded. You have to think, "what is the need we are filling?" in order to have a chance.


The interview's got details about setting expectations for people who've backed the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and offers some insight as to what kind of game Fargo will be trying to deliver. Go check it out.

Brian Fargo Talks Wasteland 2, "Abysmal" Publisher Treatment and Having Fun Again [RipTen, via Eurogamer]



These Kickstarter projects are the feel good story of the year for now, but we're still young in this process and have yet to see them actually create a game. What happens when some indie darling Kickstarter fails to get it done in the money they earn? What happens when a developer comes back and asks for *more* money to get it done? "Hey, sorry. Our costs got a little out of control, we're gonna need another million to get this out. Uh, we'll give you some concept art for another 10 bucks!"

It's bound to happen. The publisher/developer relationship *can* be very poisonous. The publishers have the suits who know about money and care about little else. You have the developers who just wanna make their game, but don't have a handle on how to control scope or manage the money they have. This can turn south easily and it isn't always the evil publishers. There's plenty of crappy development studios out there. They're not all blameless angels.

Also it really irks me seeing him place the blame on the buggy game on publisher QA. It's very easy to blame the lowest paid people in the game industry for all your problems. ...nobody is stopping you from having an internal QA team. Most studios have at least SOME QA and some even have fairly large teams. Not happy with Zenimax QA? You have the power to fix it. Feeling rushed to get your game out? Cut scope, that game was huge and would've been awesome even without some of the content.