Skip to main content

Budgeting properly isn't "rocket science" - Rebellion

Jason Kingsley underlines the importance of spending "the right amount of money"

Jason Kingsley, the CEO of Rebellion - one of Europe's leading independent studios - has warned against ploughing too much money into projects that have specialist or unproven markets, and that scoping and budgeting a project properly is just a case of "simple economics".

"It's like movies - it's not rocket science," he explained during an interview at this year's Game Connection in Lyon. "You've got to spend the right amount of money based on the potential for sales, and I think you get people spending a tonne of money on a really good idea, and they haven't got a clue whether it's going to sell or not.

"Consequently it might make a mint, or it might lose a mint - and that's what it really comes down to, it's a balance of development cost against quality, against sales potential.

"I always think to myself that if you're spending so much money developing a game that in order to break even it's got to sell four million units, you're giving yourself a mountain to climb.

"But if you're spending enough on a game that a million units will break even, that's a much easier mountain to climb. It all comes down to that - don't spend the wrong amount of money... which is easy and trite for me to say, but you hear of people putting ridiculous budgets into a specialist area of gameplay, and it doesn't make any sense."

And he added that for independent companies working with publishers, it's important to establish strong communication early on, and manage expectations.

"If somebody comes to you and says they want a game in twelve months, you can do that - but you've got to be careful in what you do, and you've got to make sure you work professionally with the clients to scope the game, so a good game can be made in twelve months.

"Sometimes you can say to them you could make a really great game in 24 months, but they want the game out in 12, and those are the needs of the industry, and so you work by them - then everybody knows and is professional about it."

Kingsley also revealed his concerns over the low proportion of people that complete games they start, and wondered whether that was an issue with the games themselves.

"Quite frankly I was talking to some fellow developers over breakfast, and it's really odd the number of people that don't actually finish playing games," he said. "And it's sad in a way, because we want people to see the whole game that we've made, and when only ten per cent of people who start a game, finish it, we really ought to think we're doing something wrong.

"Either the game's too long, it's too difficult, or whatever it might be - or we've set the players expectations incorrectly. I'd prefer it if 50 per cent of people who played our games, played them the whole way through.

"Imagine, from a creative point of view, if you've missed the end of a game - we've been building up to that, and you haven't seen it."

The second part of the interview from which this is taken is available now. In the first part of the interview Kingsley discussed the economy, digital distribution and the impact of MMOs.

Read this next

Related topics