Quantic Dream: $100m grossing Heavy Rain proves experiments can be profitable

Guillaume de Fondaumiere says experimental games can be financially successful for publishers and developers

Quantic Dreams boss Guillaume de Fondaumiere has told the audience for his keynote speech at Digital Dragons that there is no reason why experimental and culturally relevant games can't be profitable, citing the example of Heavy Rain as a game which pushed boundaries and made money.

Answering questions after his presentation on the theme of games as culture, de Foundaumiere revealed the numbers behind Quantic Dreams' PS3 opus, which made a very healthy margin.

"These projects have been and are profitable, to some extent," he said. "I'll give you one example that I know about: Heavy Rain. Let's say it's $22 million to produce. With marketing it's maybe $30 million. With distribution, $40 million. Sony earned $100 million with the game, so it's very profitable. It's the sort of margin that most publishers would strive for, for any game.

"Heavy Rain was the ninth best selling game in the year it was released, so we made the top ten. It's true of Journey, too. I don't know the details of the budget, but I know from speaking to members of ThatGameCompany that it was a profitable game for them and for Sony.

"We should stop thinking that innovation rhymes with unprofitable."

De Fondaumiere's presentation was wide-ranging and touched on a number of subjects related to the cultural relevance of games, many of which are close to his heart as a prolific campaigner for the implementation of tax breaks for the industry which rely on cultural tests. Towards then end of the Q&A session which followed his speech, he also spoke about the responsibilities of of developers towards a young audience.

"Going back to responsibility, there's something I want to make very clear. I have a ten year old. This ten year old comes home and wants to play Call of Duty. Ten year olds play Call of Duty. This is where, as developers, we have to be a bit more responsible. So yes, we place a PEGI 18 logo on the games, but we need to be realistic, and thereby responsible in what we're doing.

"What I mean by that is that we could ban gratuitous violence in our games, that would be one step in the right direction, I think. Is it always necessary to over the top, to be totally gory with our creations? Yes, we're making games for adults, but let's not be hypocrites, we know that sometimes these games can fall into the wrong hands and we need to be careful. The responsibility is also on the side of the parents. If I let my children watch whatever they want on TV, they will watch everything it offers. It's the same with video games."

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Latest comments (5)

Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
I'm sure they are and have been.

My only worry is that it would often take more than just 'the potential for an experiment to be profitable'. Some know or feel they can continue making virtually the same game over and over in a new series installment with a higher liklihood of sustaining their profits year on year.

There have been many successful experiments but at the same time there have been many expensive failures, even from renowned studios. I guess it comes down to the risk the company is willing to take and any other factors such as access to funding and publishing deals.

I think Quantic Dream are in a very good position right now and I'm happy to see all the work and talent coming together so well.
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$100m revenue would be between 4-5m "shipped" units, which is quite a lot. Most games that ship 4-5m units are likely to make a significant amount of profit.

That said - $8m to market is seems peanuts. Big titles these days would be closer to $60-$80m (if not more) including dev, marketing, shipping, etc. And its better for platform holders, as they absorb the per-unit production/licensing cost, making more per unit.

So if a 3rd-party spends $80m (all-up) on a title, they might make $15-$20 "profit" on each unit shipped. "Only" ship 3m units (which is still heaps!), and you can lose $20m plus. Look at Tomb Raider and the SQE financials for example.
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David Serrano Freelancer 9 years ago
@Michael Shamgar

"So if a 3rd-party spends $80m (all-up) on a title, they might make $15-$20 "profit" on each unit shipped. "Only" ship 3m units (which is still heaps!), and you can lose $20m plus."

This is why the strategy of targeting AAA games at a single, demographically narrow sub-segment of the core audience makes absolutely no sense. Practically all AAA games are now custom tailored for, and targeted at a pool of between 2 to 8 million male hardcore players. And these are not core evangelists, these are the players chasing other players out of the market. So generating any profit is now entirely based on convincing a percentage of the other 100 million players in the core audience, male and female, to buy games which utterly ignore their gaming preferences, needs and desires. And AAA developers and publishers consistently fail to do so.

They need to wake up to the fact this strategy carries more risks than targeting the majority of the core audience with more diverse and mainstream accessible titles would.
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Show all comments (5)
Private Industry 9 years ago
Good to see Havy Rain being a sucess, cant wait for Beyond two souls.

Mainstream accessible can be a double edged sword. Look at AC, each title became more and more accessible to mainstream that not much is left from its original complexity may it be easy controls, difficulty in general or the non existing choices of how to approach a mission. For me the series is now at a point that if it continues to water down the experience that AC4 will bevthe last game I buy in the series.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
Experimenting... Sometimes it works but alot of times it doesnt. There are more failures than accomplishments in most cases. There is always a huge risk it can fail, and if your running a business you have to balance out how much you are willing to risk and how much its gonna cost you if you fail. And if the company can carry the weight of that failure. However that one good result is always worth every failure. So I hope Quantic dream keeps getting lucky with their experiments. Cause Id like to see more from them.
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