Dylan Cuthbert: Game Funding Model Is "Fundamentally Broken"

In an interview with Develop, Q-Games president Dylan Cuthbert discusses the "fundamentally broken" games funding model, saying it is geared towards "making publishers stinking rich".

Primarily working on the downloadable PSN PixelJunk series, Dylan Cuthbert doesn't have much occasion to deal with the problems associated with the traditional relationship between publisher and developer, but that doesn't mean he can't feel other developers' pain. During the Develop interview, Cuthbert was asked what area of the game industry needs more investment, to which he replied, "The games investment system needs investment!"

The model of games funding at the moment is fundamentally broken and biased towards making publishers stinking rich. Just look at the bonuses and wages of execs at EA for example, I could make the entire PixelJunk series, including series 2, two or three times over on the EA boss's income bonus.

I'm sure that's somewhat of an exaggeration. Last year EA CEO John Riccitiello only brought home $US625,350 in bonuses, on top of his $US750,000 salary and $US3.6 million in stock options. Perhaps he meant Activision's Bobby Kotick, who brought home $US14.9 million, of which only $US900,000 was his salary and the rest bonuses and stock options.

Still, it's obvious Cuthbert is not happy with the publisher/developer relationship, further espousing on his displeasure when asked what disappoints him most about the industry.

"...the top-down relationship most publishers have with their devs. Luckily we haven't been on the receiving end of that so far - touch-wood - but I see a lot of devs in a lot of pain primarily because of publisher-related problems."

FAQ: Dylan Cuthbert [Develop]


    You mean to tell me that most of what we pay over the register doesnt even go to the people who actually made the game, but into a 20th Century-style capitalist pie? Crikey. Next you will tell me that an music artist only gets paid 30c for each album they sell.

      That's the price you pay for workin for "the man".

      The working pleb ALWAYS gets screwed over by "the man".

    His concerns are further cemented by the recent altercations between publishers and developers of Rockstar Games. I feel for him and developers in his shoes, where's the recognition and due respect that they so deserve?

    I like Dylan Cuthbert and Giles Goddard of the 16-bit era, where they were both lead programmers on the first Super FX Chip enabled game, the amazingly surreal and awesome StarFox game on the SNES. Back then they were with Argonaut Software, headed by the legendary Jez San, who helped develop the chip.

    One day I'm going to start a publishing company with the google-esque motto that simply says "Don't be dicks". I think that sort of thing is desperately needed these days.

    Most importantly, never being publically traded to a point where shareholders actually think they have a say in running the company. Half the industry's problems are thanks to executives trying to appease these faceless wankers who don't give a shit about what the company even does much less the quality as long as it makes them more money.

    Of course the other half of the industry's problems is bobby kotick...

    Dev's go with the best publisher they can find who will distribute the game. They choose the EA's and Activision's because they have a proven record and odds are will sell more copies, therefore generating more sales. While we all have our personal gripes with distributors, a lot of games wouldn't even be made without the capital they invest, nor would they sell as well without the marketing, hard to come down people for doing their job, what did the Sony bosses earn on the back of the pixel junk series doing well.

    It's an old trade off; sell more for less return, or less for more return.

    As stinky as it is its not really suprising. Developers are usually asking for the publisher to take on all of the risk when fronting up the cash to make the game. If the publisher has to take on all of the risk they will want all of the reward.

    There are some developers out there that self publish but its a terrifying risk to big for most.

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