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Interview Feargus Urquhart and Fredrik Wester on the Pillars of Eternity distribution deal

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Feargus Urquhart; Fredrik Wester; Obsidian Entertainment; Paradox Interactive; Pillars of Eternity

    Yesterday's Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter update announced that Obsidian had partnered with the maverick Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive to distribute their game. The deal was actually announced by Feargus Urquhart and Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester at GDC shortly before the update went out. The folks at Eurogamer had a chance to speak with them there and learn some more details. Wester revealed the following about Paradox's role in the partnership:

    "If we don't think Pillars of Eternity is up to standard, we're going to tell these guys. And we're opinionated people, we're going to come back with tons of opinions. We have a QA team of eighteen people who're going to play the game for weeks and weeks and give their feedback."

    Paradox's role in marketing, distributing, testing and supporting the game - as well as fulfilling backer rewards - will allow Obsidian, and the budget, to concentrate on the game.

    That's not to say Paradox is doing all of this out of the kindness of its heart.

    "There's always a financial upside in a partnership like this," Wester said. "You should never lie about that. You take a risk by investing your money, your time and your QA resources, but we think this game deserves to be played by a lot of people.

    "[Obsidian] is probably the most prestigious developer we've ever worked with. It shows that we can do games not just with smaller developers, but we can work with larger developers too. Experienced developers who really know what they're doing."

    The partnership raises the possibility of boxed versions and special editions of the game, although "nothing is set in stone yet", Wester said.
    Rock Paper Shotgun's Nathan Grayson also had a chance to interview the two. Sadly, his interview is full of passive aggressive sniping and more attempts to manufacture a false controversy over South Park's "bugginess", but here are some of the less annoying bits:

    RPS: During your press conference you went into this, but just to absolutely clarify, this has functionally no effect on backers, right?

    Urquhart: It has no effect from the standpoint of, yeah, every dollar they put in goes to the game. The person they’re going to communicate with about the game is us. They’ll continue to get updates from us. They can still yell at Josh on the forums and he will communicate as much or as little as Josh normally communicates. It has no effect on [stuff like that].

    We’re still deciding everything. It’s not to say that Fred just gets to stand there. These guys play games and they’re going to have thoughts. But ultimately it’s our game. To be blunt, it’s what Fred said as well. Who’s going to be sending out all these physical goods? That comes from them. There will be a change. It won’t change what they’re going to get, but it won’t say From Obsidian.

    Wester: Which gives Obsidian more time to work on the game, hopefully. You don’t have to spend a lot of time making sure that those promises are fulfilled.

    RPS: There is another way to look at it, though, in that I could see marketing affecting a game tangentially. “We need to show this by this point, so you need to have the game ready in this state so we can have a trailer made up.” Little things like that. Are there any ways that could seep into and affect the development?

    Wester: We don’t really work that way. We decided early that we don’t develop games from a marketing perspective. If we have to do something marketing-wise, we use what we already have. We create trailers and marketing materials that fit with what we already have. It’s very inconvenient to start doing things like extra demos just for E3 and stuff like that. We’ve never done that. We only go for what is best for the game. Then we adjust the marketing scheme from there.

    Urquhart: The other thing is, this is a different world from doing something like Stick of Truth. Stick of Truth is going to ship out to everywhere, physically. When that’s the case, again it goes back to this: Stick of Truth has to go sell X millions of units just to make money. There has to be this machine behind it. That machine has to know this nine months before, that six months before. This is different. 90 percent of the people, our backers, are digital-only. And so a lot of it is just that, with that world, we don’t need marketing dates that are nine months in advance.

    RPS: At this point, you said that you’re “absolutely” going to have Eternity out this year, but how far along is it? Is it content complete? What’s left for you to do?

    Urquhart: Where exactly are we? Area art is finishing up. We’re still going to do polish phases and things like that. Companions are being written. That’s one of the last things we do, even though it’s a lot of work, because we want to get other of the design and story and have that kind of settle before we write all the companions. So the companions are being written right now. We’re in B priority animations.

    At the end of this month, the whole critical path will be in. We’re pretty far along. What we’re looking at is we’re going to have a good amount of time to play and play and polish and polish. Obviously what we want to come out is something that’s going to be super solid and fun for everyone.​

    This talk about "financial upsides" and Paradox having "a lot to game (sic)" from the game selling well, combined with the fact that they're doing QA and that boxed versions aren't a sure thing yet, leads me to believe that this distribution deal is a bit more involved than what inXile has with Deep Silver. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Paradox is getting a cut of the profits not just from physical sales but also from Steam. It does seem like Obsidian is reluctant to release their game to the public in a rough state and rely on "fan-provided QA", so I guess they need this.
     
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  2. tyrannosaurus rex Unwanted Douchebag! Shitposter

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    I have a hard time believing this, looking at every single title they released so far.
    They picked the developer who release buggy unpolished mess who aren't worth playing until heavily patched and DLCed.
     
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  3. Monty Arcane

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    A publisher deal of this sort was inevitable at some point, so I'm not doing the usual 'evil publisher' moan, but I do enjoy the change in tone from initial kickstarter pitches that I've seen with a few games now:

    Eternity kickstarter pitch:
    Paradox said:
     
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  4. Turok Erudite

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    Valla mierda, para que coño los apoye en kickstarter...
     
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Paradox are fans too. Problem solved. :troll:
     
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  6. Excidium P. banal

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    Good thing we don't believe kickstarter lies...right? The anti-publisher POWA TO DA PEOPLE generates pledges like crazy, but in the end they will do whatever is best for the game.
     
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  7. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Yeah, but other than with a normal publisher Obsidian can tell Paradox to fuck right off.

    So, no. I don't think there's much difference. Obsidian also still does its own marketing as well. Paradox isn't taking *completly* over. At least state-side.
     
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  8. The Dude Liturgist

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    I am not sure what to think about this. Paradox QA isn't what I would call stellar. Sure, while often buggy on release most games made inhouse eventually gets to a good state. On the other hand, I have often seen games from other devs published by Paradox (supposedly tested by Paradox QA) be a mess and stay that way. If this is caused by their QA sucking or being bad at working with third party devs, or if Paradox just makes poor decisions about what to publish I have no idea. I do think that Obsidian wouldn't just let their baby drown if this deal turns sour though, so not too worried.
     
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  9. Sranchammer Arcane

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    This is a nightmare.
     
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  10. Morality Games Arcane Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Oh, wow. You could be a Baatezu with that kind of logic. Seriously, change your avatar to a Pit Fiend.

    http://nwn.wikia.com/wiki/Pit_fiend
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
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  11. Copper Savant

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    Proof that Paradox is better at marketing than Obsidian - at least in the gaming press, their campaign to tighten up and shake their buggy reputation has largely worked.
     
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  12. Xor Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I would be very surprised if the deal wasn't heavily in Obsidian's favor. This isn't like a normal publisher deal where the publisher bears the brunt of the financial risk. At the end of the day Obsidian could easily walk away from any contract that they didn't completely agree with and just publish the game themselves. Obviously Paradox is bearing some financial risk here, but since the game is already 100% funded the only investment they're making is in marketing and QA, plus the cost to box and ship copies of the game along with digital distribution. All told that will probably come to a small chunk of the cost of development.
     
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  13. Morality Games Arcane Patron

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    When will Obsidian learn that graft and briberies of doritos and Mountain Dew is the only way to make the GOTY?
     
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  14. Name Arbiter

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    They should address the whole thing as "We hired Paradox". That would be bad-ass. However it's also totally a lie.
     
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  15. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    No, it's.... a stretched truth.

    Obsidian contracted Paradox, not the other way around.
     
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  16. Kron Arcane

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    HAHAHAHA

    Woow, Kickstarter is really going to change the way videogames are made, right?
    Nothing will ever be the same!

    The golden age of videogameing is REALLY coming back!!
     
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  17. The Dude Liturgist

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    So, being in what sounds like a pretty equal relationship with a smallish publisher that gives you QA and marketing is the same as being the bitch of a larger publisher that thinks "creative control" is what focus groups are for?

    Even if a publisher gets involved somewhere, kickstarter means that devs are in a much stronger position to dictate demands and stay in control of their games compared to: "we need money for game, please sugar daddy, me suck you long time".
     
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  18. Kron Arcane

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    Enjoy your totally amazingly creative games created by washed up designers.
    Whatever makes you happy.

    EDIT: I am totally not butthurt at what Kickstarter has turned out to be.
     
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  19. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Paradox takes exactly zero creative control.

    You know, the thing why we hate pubs in the first place.
     
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  20. Xor Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Don't get upset at Kron. Apparently he pictured a world where kickstarter would lead to developers magically creating the infrastructure to publish, test, and market games themselves while still having enough money left over to develop an entire game off of a small fraction of what a modern game costs to make.
     
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  21. Kron Arcane

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    Ok, I'm a naive kid, I get it.

    Honestly my frustration with Kickstarter has more to do with the creative side.
    It's like it has revealed that the problem with videogames was not so much on the lines of publishers but developers being mediocre as fuck and unimaginative.

    "What the hell??" I tell myself; we are getting the same tired dull shit, but now with the headline of "Funded in Kickstarter".

    Basically, taking for granted that people are really passionate is a mistake.
     
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  22. Xor Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Divinity: Original Sin 2
    That's why I'm generally pretty careful with what I back on kickstarter, because probably 95% or more of the products on their will fail to deliver. Everyone has ideas, only some of those people have good ideas, and very few people can actually take those ideas and make something worthwhile out of them. And PoE is looking to be quite a passionate and ambitious game, which is why I'm glad Obsidian isn't wasting their very limited cash supply trying to market and ship the game themselves.
     
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  23. Xeon Liturgist

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    One thing I really like about Paradox beside their CK2 and EU4 is their trailers. Their CK2 sins trailers and the Jazzy boats trailers were pretty good.

    Also since Paradox is making an RPG game, maybe they asked for Obsidian's expertise at making RPGs or something.
     
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  24. Kron Arcane

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    I think I'll just go and finally shoot myself.
     
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  25. Grotesque ±¼ Patron

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    Divinity: Original Sin Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Use large caliber to make sure.
     
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