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Dev-pub relationships are changing for the better - Braben

Frontier chairman believes that studios taking more responsibility is a "good thing"

Frontier Developments chairman David Braben has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes the relationships between developers and publishers are evolving to involve the former much more - and that's a positive move.

Speaking during this year's Develop Conference in Brighton, Braben explained that he was pleased to see the creative teams taking more responsibility - but was quick to point out that the publishers were still very much a part of the overall equation.

"What you're really doing is, more of the publishing functions are being taken by the developer, and that's a healthy thing," he said, defining the term 'self-publishing'.

"With a lot of the games we've already published where the roles have changed it makes sense for the people who are creating the look of the game to also be creating the look of, say, TV ads or whatever. I think that's a positive thing, talking directly to the ad agencies which ten years ago we wouldn't have done - but now you're absolutely expected to be a part of. That is really a positive move.

"Now, whether it's the sort of games we've done already, like LostWinds on WiiWare, where we are self-publishing... but the point is, Nintendo is still doing a lot of the work. They are still running the channel, it's still they're channel in the same way that PSN and XBLA are Sony's and Microsoft's.

"So the point is, the relationships are changing, and arguably developers are taking a lot more responsibility, but that's a good thing. Developers are also taking risk, which is often not talked about, but it's this balance of risk and reward that may be changing subtly - possibly because some publishers are becoming slightly more risk averse, for sensible reasons, especially in today's climate where there's less money around."

He went on to discuss the current 'gold rush' towards iPhone development, and issued a note of caution to any company tempted by the apparent riches on offer.

"The dream is being oversold - like it was for mobile - and most people don't make any money out of it at all," he warned. "I heard this applies to PC as well, somebody said they'd made GBP 100,000 and it was fantastic. You start thinking: 'Wow, that's lottery money!'

"But actually, that's four people working for two years, what salaries would they have received over the same period? You start to realise that actually you need to make a lot of money to compete with a real salary."

The full interview with David Braben is available now.

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