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Default Obsidian Entertainment - Feargus Urquhart Interview @ GameSpot

November 4th, 2011, 23:37
Feargus Urquhart was interviewed at International Game Developers Association Leadership Forum last week by GameSpot. The coversation centres on business issues for independent studios and issues like selling second-hand games. A snip on their current burn rate:
GameSpot: Do you think it's getting easier or harder to make it as an independent studio these days?
Feargus Urquhart: I think it depends on your perspective. I think originally you could be an indie developer and not really have to be a business man. And I wouldn't say that I'm a business man, but I have some of the traits that go along with that. And I have had to learn a lot of things about accounting, and taxes, and other things to a point. I think in the past, it was possible to be effective without being really focused on business because the teams were much smaller. If you were eight guys and you made a bunch of money on your previous product, you can go six months without signing a deal. Our burn rate is $1 million a month, so we have to have games all the time. I am not independently wealthy, so I think a lot of it is harder now if you don't understand that you really have to focus on the business side.
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November 4th, 2011, 23:37
That's quite an interestzing interview, imho, to see the second-hand market from their perspective.

I especially like this quote, but a bit more differently than it was originall meant :

The game is going to go back on my shelf, not back to GameStop.
Forever ?

I ask. Because products have a life span that is only so long. After let's say 10 years, games should be allowed to be traded. But I guess that developers wouldn't want that, and publishers even less. I guess they'd want DLCs to be sold at least for 20+ years. If possible. As long as possible.

The result will be that - like Add-Ons during the last 20 years, which are *always* much, much, much more difficult to find than the full games, becaue the publishers/developers ALWAYS sub-license the full game as if there had never been an extension to it at all, cynically speaking, in the end, DLCs will be rther forgotten. Because they can't be activated or downloaded the day the servers are switched off.

And they just don't seem to care. I mean that "tzhe indistry" just doesn't seem to care that servers will be switched off one day with the result of the DLCs no more being accessible for people.

And this - that they don't care - is to me just proof that "the gaming industry" just sees games as money-generating tools. Not as "tools" to evoke a playing experience.

And this is what no-one ever speaks about in interviews. No-one don't even asks this question. There's no "hinterfragen" of actions, of philosiophies (are there even philosophies at all ?).

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 5th, 2011, 07:02
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I ask. Because products have a life span that is only so long. After let's say 10 years, games should be allowed to be traded. But I guess that developers wouldn't want that, and publishers even less. I guess they'd want DLCs to be sold at least for 20+ years. If possible. As long as possible.
Your time tables are way off… Think about how quickly the retail price drops on a game that bombs or has lackluster sales. Short game length, lack of replayability or a mediocre/bad game experience causes early buyers to sell/trade in their games thus putting downward pressure on new/retail game pricing.

While it might not be a big deal to some here, graphics are considered very important to many gamers. A game knocking on 10 years let alone 20, will look it's age and be played(99% of the time) by those who have already bought the game. As for DLC, it is only relevant/worthwhile so long as a game is new and popular.

Honestly, if I had to guess, I would say a ~2 year moratorium on trading/reselling and perhaps a fixed price(say at $50) would maximize revenue.


The result will be that - like Add-Ons during the last 20 years, which are *always* much, much, much more difficult to find than the full games, becaue the publishers/developers ALWAYS sub-license the full game as if there had never been an extension to it at all, cynically speaking, in the end, DLCs will be rther forgotten. Because they can't be activated or downloaded the day the servers are switched off.
Look, in 10-20 years if their servers are gone/done and they no longer support the game I'd treat it as abandonware(IE DL a torrent or whatever is around in 10-20 years)…


And they just don't seem to care. I mean that "tzhe indistry" just doesn't seem to care that servers will be switched off one day with the result of the DLCs no more being accessible for people.

And this - that they don't care - is to me just proof that "the gaming industry" just sees games as money-generating tools. Not as "tools" to evoke a playing experience.

And this is what no-one ever speaks about in interviews. No-one don't even asks this question. There's no "hinterfragen" of actions, of philosiophies (are there even philosophies at all ?).
Of course the industry doesn't care… You think the music industry cares about the music? It's about consumerism - mass production of product X for consumer group Y. It doesn't matter what product X is, so long as it can be effectively marketed and consequently sold in mass quantity. If some company could get away with selling shit on stick for profit they would exist. Instead of creating a product to meet demand, corporations(increasingly) create demand to sell a product. The product is a means to an end and little else.
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November 5th, 2011, 13:51
My "10 years" was rather an extreme example. I could've used 5 years instead to make more clear what I meant, but 5 years is still within gamemakers' scope. I mean that's still within the time frame of selling DLCs.

Wht i meant was rather the date/time when a game reachs the very end of its life cycle; and for Action-RPGs andmultiplayer games this a LOT more longer than for shooter games.

Shootergames have the imho far shortest life-span : Only a few years. 5 maximum.
Multiplayer games (even with MP only tacked on) and Action-RPGs can live throughout 10+ years (see Blizzrd for that).
And "Classics" as well. See Baldur's Gate, and PS:T, for example. ot to mention IWD. Just look at GOG to see how much attention those really old games get even now.

And I believe that a game should be brouht out in a COMPLETE form with ALL DLCs/Add-Ons/Bonus stuff etc. at this very end of its product life-cycle.

But it won't and that's why : It would cost money. And that's why we'll see "Collections" (like Dragon Age 1 Ultimate Collection) only in a very limited scope.

What I don't get is why companies don't even sub-license games at the ends of their life-cycles to publishers like what's done here for the "Green Pepper" label. I mean, they sometimes do (Activision is notorious in NOT doing it and in selecting the WRONG games for it !), but they NEVER EVER EVER sub-license games as complete packages together with their DLCs/Add-Ons etc. ! - See the Horse Armor of Morrowind, for example : It is still not available in a complete package; at least not here (which sys imho uite a lot about how fiirms consider Germany; even The SIMs 1 has never been published as a *complete* package here, in contrast to the U.S. and the same is true for NWN1 and NWN2 ["Diamond Edition"] ).

There are some things in this indutry I just can't understand - and these seem to be mostly "business decisions" - made by business men who are not interested in people playing games, but rather in people buying games.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 5th, 2011, 14:15
I think you made a mistake since Horse Armor is for Oblivion. The only DLC for Morrowind was free and should be able to be downloaded from the Nexus.
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November 6th, 2011, 01:47
I made the mistake of viewing the video-review at the end of the page.
My god. How do these people get into the industry?

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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November 6th, 2011, 05:41
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
I made the mistake of viewing the video-review at the end of the page.
My god. How do these people get into the industry?
I'm guessing some sort of lottery. You would think someone with the title of 'Editor' would have a basic grasp of the English language. This whole review sounded like he was trying use a lot of words he didn't really understand. (insert Princess Bride quote here).

On topic, it is certainly interesting to see this perspective. I can't help but draw parallels to the music industry, movie industry, etc. If your business model is broken…change your business model.

I will always give Feargus a break however, because of Fallout 2 and the fact that his name is Feargus Urquhart. Feargus. Urquhart.
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