Skip to main content

Fargo: Publishers negatively affect developers

Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment says relationship raises costs and lowers control

Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment has spoken out against the big publishers, arguing they inflate development costs and interfere with the creative process.

"There is so much that the publishers do that the developers get negatively affected by. As a developer, it's frustrating," he told Ripten.

"The developers don't want to say anything because they know if they did the publishers aren't going to want to do business with them. Blizzard doesn't have to put up with that. Epic doesn't have to put up with that. Why do their products keep coming out one good one after another? Because they don't have to listen to that."

He also suggested that a publisher can artificially hike up development costs by 25 to 35 per cent, spending on areas where a developer might be more careful, like audio. Then they would hamper that process too.

If a product ships with bugs, somebody knew about them. So, if they aren't getting fixed, I don't think it's because a developer refused to fix them.

"When we did all of our directing, for all of our games, every project I had ever done, including Bard's Tale with Cary Elwes, we directed the talent," Fargo continued.

"We knew the material, so we could give them the context for each line. Well, the publishers would allow us to visit the studio, but we weren't allowed to speak directly with the people doing the recording. They send some very expensive voice director in, and he directs them. We don't even get to handle it. So, if the audio doesn't come out quite right, the developer gets the negative mark, yet they aren't the ones who get to be in charge of it. They aren't allowed to."

And despite all the big spending, a contract with a big publisher doesn't necessarily equate to a perfect game at the end of the development process. Even if it means the consumer suffers.

"If a product ships with bugs, somebody knew about them. So, if they aren't getting fixed, I don't think it's because a developer refused to fix them."

He suggested new developers to forget AAA titles and concentrate on smaller, niche markets to make better returns. It's certainly worked for Fargo, who set up a Kickstarter fund for a Wasteland sequel and currently has funds of over $1.6 million.

After his success with crowdfunding, Fargo has just set up Kicking It Forward, a system to encourage game developers to contribute to each other's Kickstarter projects.

Read this next

Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
Related topics