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March 9th, 2011, 04:50
Originally Posted by Captain Smollett View Post
If publishers were able to make a profit out of a game like BG in 1998, when the game-playing audience was much smaller in general, why can't they do the same today?

Or are games so expensive to produce now that one must have blockbuster-movie level sales to be profitable? Just doesn't add to me.
Production budgets are skyrocketing. There were times when you could make a whole game with up-to-date production values for 20k. Now you need much more. But if you have higher budgets you also need more platforms. Manufacturing and distribution for consoles is very, very expensive. As it seems the market does not support mid level product, meaning the majority of the customers buy block busters, a few buy niche products, but not enough people are buying games in the 2 - 10M$ range. Therefore we see a continuing trend towards the edges of the spectrum. Games either go digital only, are dirt cheap shovelware (horse games for little girls) or AAA blockbuster with a 50-100M$ investment upfront for production, manufacturing, distribution and marketing. Games like Drakensang and Divinity are stuck in the middle. They have to fight an uphill battle to secure distribution and shelf space.

If you follow Larian's announcements you'll see they are trying to self-publish as far as possible to become less dependent on publishers: co-funding, publishing in Germany, their own DL service, other bread & butter products (Belgian TV stuff). That's probably the right way for a small studio. Retail is dead in the UK and the US for all except the AAA products - but for what do you need a publisher if he can't secure shelf space ?!
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