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Reclaim the stars in the exciting new Space Epic from legendary game designer Chris Roberts.
34,397 backers pledged $2,134,374 to help bring this project to life.

Game Changers: Chris Taylor

I’m excited to introduce a new feature at the Roberts Space Industries website: “Game Changers!“. Informal discussions with well-known game developers to give everyone an insight into the developer perspective, the things that excite or challenge and to talk a little about what they are up to. An insider’s access to talented developers that have made games that both you and I love.

My sit down with Chris Taylor, located above, is the first of such pieces, and we shot it before Christmas before he launched his Wildman campaign. We talk about our shared history with Electronic Arts and Microsoft and Wildman. He’s made many great games, such as Total Annihilation, Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander and he never goes into something with less than 150% energy and enthusiasm.

So why Kickstarter for Chris and myself?

It really has to do with the publisher / developer relationship in today’s world. A publisher will say;

“Here’s $20M to make a game, I’ll own the intellectual property and you’ll have to pay me back that $20M from your royalties. Because I’m advancing you so much your royalty rate is going to be only 20% of the net revenue.”

What this means is that the publisher will be making money for a long time before a developer will ever see a penny of profit from their hard work. This model comes from the recording industry, where it works better because the recording cost of the album is a lot less than the cost of selling it. In the old days of game development, when games cost just your own time and could be made quickly the model worked. But as the cost of development has gone up the advantage has irrevocably shifted to the publisher. They still pay the same to market and publish the game as they always did, but the developer side of the cost equation has gone way up. Originally something like 80% of the cost of selling a game was in packaging, sales and marketing and only 20% or less was in development. But now the cost of development is more like 50-60% of the overall investment but the share the developer gets has not increased. So pretty much all independent developers end up being indentured servants to whichever publisher they are working for. They almost never make enough money from any game to become independent and so are completely dependent on development contracts. 

This development contracts tend to be so tight that there are not more than a few months of extra “burn” in the bank, so if you don’t land a new job pretty quickly, you are in trouble. Which is why you’ve seen so many developers close over the past few years, especially as publishers have cut back on their external development to focus more and more on in-house sequels to “franchises” like Call of Duty, FIFA or Battlefield.

This is why crowd funding and Kickstarter is so exciting for developers. Besides the awesomeness of connecting directly with people that love your games and engaging in a lot of fun conversations it allows you to free yourself from the shackles of working for a publisher. It takes the publisher out of the revenue chain, allowing the developer to keep more money, which in turn can be used to build a better game the way the community and the developer wants. No crazy notes from publishing executives that don’t play games, or marketing executives wanting to chase the fluffy unicorn of social. That’s why I love crowd funding. I’m immensely grateful to all of you in allowing me to build Star Citizen free from the interference of a publisher. I will build a better game, and I game better tailored to what YOU want. Its why I try to support any of my peers in entering the wild and woolly world of crowd funding. I think it’s a huge boost for the future of game making.

I’ve known Chris for a long time and he’s one of the most straight shooting, forthcoming and funny people you will meet. He’s a genuine pleasure to be around and incredibly talented. Wildman, is about as far from a Space Sim as you can get, but if you’re a fan of any of Chris Taylor’s games I would encourage you to check it out, either on Kickstarter or on their dedicated site. Like Star Citizen, Wildman will build on the DNA of Taylor’s previous games, including both real time strategy and role playing elements in ways never before combined!

I’m backing!

-Chris

Comments

    1. Creator Grant Bagwell on February 13, 2013

      Hi,

      Emailed info and billing but still not had a response back regarding the citizen cards - I had already added the postage amount to the pledge so don't see why I am being asked for it again.

      Could someone please respond with a resolution please?

    2. Creator Diego on February 7, 2013

      I did not back Wildman.

      I'm a Chris Taylor fan. He made total Annihilation, a quatum jump in the RTS archetype, and has to be recognized.

      I was not too happy, tough, about his stance against Planetary Annihilation. Those guys worked with him, and he, simply put, said RTS is no longer doable, and that's why he went small scale MOBA-ish.

      Well, if you're gonna do games because you think that's what the market want, feel free to do so. But why not do it with publishers? It's their game, making money.

      I like RTS. A LOT. I don't like MOBAs. And I think very few people will play a PvE MOBA more than a few hours.

    3. Creator Ian Rocha on February 4, 2013

      Yeah, I already backed Wildman too. Less because of Name Branding and more because I found the game interesting.

    4. Creator James Bauer on February 3, 2013

      I have already backed him. I have loved his games since back when TA came out so I had to do it :)

    5. Creator Bil Irving on February 2, 2013

      Couldn't agree with you more Chris (and Chris). The likes of EA and their endless annual patches costing £40 - £50 a pop have to die.

    6. Creator ThomasN on February 1, 2013

      Thanks for the shout-out. I hope we all want to definately want to play another GPG game when it's done.

    7. Creator Mathias Boesen on February 1, 2013

      Interesting read. I had no clue either on the developer vs publisher relationship these days.

    8. Creator René M Jensen on February 1, 2013

      Chris + Chris = ? AWESOME :)

    9. Creator René M Jensen on February 1, 2013

      Yet another guy he is helping out :) its really nice of Roberts.

      Definitely hope Wildman gets funded as well.

    10. Creator Greg "Scorpio" Myers on February 1, 2013

      Nice update! It's great to watch these sit down conversations between great game developers. Chris Taylor is awesome and I hope Wildman gets funded...looks like a really great concept.

    11. Creator DeeK on February 1, 2013

      It's interesting to hear the dynamics between the publisher and developer. As a guy who just buys the game, it's not something I'm usually made aware of.

      Amazing that so much money is spent on marketing! I guess that's one advantage of crowd funding. No need to market to the crowd who have already funded the project. Another advantage, from the crowd's perspective; it's satisfying to receive updates on the project.

    12. Creator Gurney on February 1, 2013

      Thanks for giving us this insight!
      Very interesting!

    13. Creator Jalister - OOoE / WoOS / SoSR on February 1, 2013

      Very nice update, and I like the information regarding developers and publishers. Thanks for bringing Wildman to the attention of so many backers. I've been been a Wildman backer since day one, and I'm obviously a backer of Star Citizen.