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Bill Roper has been in the gaming business for a long while. First with Blizzard North, then on to Flagship Studios for Hellgate: London, and, finally, to Cryptic Studios for both Champions Online and Star Trek Online. In a new interview over at Gamasutra, Roper talks about the current MMO developer funding models and how those publisher/developer models are outmoded, causing more failure than success.
You've talked about having some issues with how publisher funding goes on games, particularly MMOs.
Bill Roper: I think it's a broken model, the way that funding works on a pub-dev deal. It just kind of is, right? Because the publisher wants to get the game out, so they want to figure out how to fund the game right until the game comes out. Then there's no more funding.
We always want as much time as we can. So, we start doing stuff, and invariably, when the game ships, whenever that is -- whether it's early or the right amount of time -- you have used the last amount of funding to get it out. There's never a cushion, right? And now, you have no money. So, if you don’t have another project lined up, you're screwed.
And let's say the game comes out and does well. You still could fail in the time before you get your first check, because you're typically earning out at your royalty rate, right? So, if I have a 20 percent royalty rate as a developer, and there's $5 million spent on the game, well, the game has got to make $25 million before I start seeing anything.
Read more here.