Oh, now here is a touchy subject. Pillars of Eternity was a massively successful crowd-funded RPG which raised over $4 million through PayPal and Kickstarter. With those funds, developer Obsidian promised to publish the game themselves with the hope of keeping its creative vision within its own grasp.
At GDC, Obsidian has also just announced that it has partnered with Paradox Interactive to publish and distribute the game. Talk about doing the exact opposite of what you said, but it makes sense. CEO Feargus Urquhart made an extended statement to Eurogamer, mentioning that Obsidian simply just does not want to focus on the side of game development that the company isn’t exactly known for, marketing and distribution.
“Ultimately we’re a developer, and I worked for a publisher for 12 years, and there are certain things I just don’t want to have anything to do with, as it relates to distributing games,” he says. “I don’t want to have a warehouse, I don’t want to build up a customer service department. We’ll totally support our game online and in forums, but I don’t want to have to figure out how to get something where people can call in and ask about the game.”
“There’s these things, these legitimate things, that publishers provide and we just don’t ever want to do. If we have to do those things we have to put money into those things rather than into the game, and that’s the big thing.
Ultimately if we were going to have any arrangement on any of our games when we’ve Kickstarted it, it would be ‘this brand is ours’ and ‘it’s a brand that’s been influenced by backers’, and any publisher would have no say whatsoever about the content of that brand in any way, shape or form.
The money that we’ve gotten to make the game goes to the game, and purposely there would be no monetary influence from a co-publishing or distribution partner to complicate that in any way, shape or form…
We want this to be ours. Our games have gotten complicated in the past because of publisher intervention.
We probably feel more strongly about it than the backers do. We’ve gotten a huge amount of experience with these things, and we want to hear people’s opinion but we don’t want to be strong-armed. Anything we would do with anybody: there would be no ability for them to strong-arm as it relates to the game.”
Paradox and Obsidian have both released a FAQ answering any questions that backers might have and confirming that Obsidian still owns full control of the the IP.
“By handing off duties not related to development, Obsidian can focus on making the game that much better. We truly believe this is for the good of the game and, by extension, for the good of the community.”
Urquhart and Paradox boss Fredrik Wester have also spoken out at GDC on the issue with comments also picked up by Eurogamer.
“For us it’s very important to stress it’s Obisdian’s project and it remains in their creative control,” said Wester. “We’re just happy to work with Obsidian on this great project, so we’re going to work on marketing and fulfillment. Someone has to send out those T-shirts, right?”
“We’ve gotten about $4.5m from people so far and we want everybody to totally understand that every dollar we get from everybody is going into the campaign,” added Urquhart. “We’re going to fulfill every one of [our] promises.”
Both companies are confident that Pillars of Eternity will be able to make its official “Winter 2014” release date.
Any concerns on the game now that a publisher is involved? I really don’t have any since they both seem genuine enough in the length they went to keep calm over the broken news.