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Owning IP is crucial to survival, says Free Radical boss

By Matt Martin

Tue 31 Oct 2006 2:39pm GMT / 9:39am EST / 6:39am PST

Free Radical Design's David Doak has told that if the developer didn't own it's own intellectual property, it would have gone out of business.

Free Radical Design's David Doak has told that if the developer didn't own it's own intellectual property, it would have gone bust.

And he warned other independent developers that without holding a stake in a property they risk having a project taken off them if a publisher isn't happy with the development process.

"If we hadn't owned our own IP we would have gone out of business," said Doak.

"If a property isn't owned by the developer or the developer doesn't have a stake in the ownership, one option [for a publisher] is to get someone else to finish it off. And that just destroys a company."

However, Doak noted that one of the core strengths that attracts publishers to independent studios is the intimacy and internal communication of the team.

"One of the strengths of independent studios is that we have a company we've built, we know everyone who works here, we have a personal pride and personal investment in what we're doing," said Doak.

"We never want to release a shit game because I would expect people would say, 'what happened there, you've sold out.' What you see with developers that get caught up in something like licenses is that publishers come along and for commercial reasons say, 'drop the quality bar because we need to get it out.' The industry needs to stop working like that because it's just going to burn people out," he warned.

Free Radical is currently working on two high-profile next-generation titles - first-person shooter Haze for Ubisoft and an undisclosed collaboration with LucasArts.

But even with two titles in development, the studio boss highlights the need for independents to be one step ahead of the game when it comes to planning future projects.

"Making the big blockbuster games is not as lucrative as it used to be because the break-even point has moved massively, and with the step to next-gen it's moved even further. You need to have massive staffing levels, you need to be able to carry those staff over to the next project - we're currently concentrating on the two projects we have but we need to be thinking about what comes next after these are done," he concluded.

The full interview with David Doak will be published on later this week, where the out-spoken developer discusses working with publishers' past and present, the ideas behind upcoming shooter Haze, and his thoughts on Xbox Live Arcade.

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