Wasteland 2 Creator Calls The Publisher/Developer Dynamic “Awful”

Wasteland 2 Creator Calls The Publisher/Developer Dynamic “Awful”
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With the Kickstarter campaign for his old-school role-playing title already surpassing its goal, Brian Fargo has managed to find a path out of needing a publisher to continue making video games.

And that’s good, because, according to an interview Fargo did with Ripten, publishers treat developers like crap. While developers spend the man-hours and energy making a title, publishers have the final say in how and when a game makes it out into the world. When it comes to various elements of producing a game, the amount of control over money and schedule are unfairly weighted against game developers.

Fargo uses the recent release of Fallout: New Vegas — and the Metacritic rating bonus contrioversy that followed — as an example of how developers can get screwed by a publisher:

They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA. When a project goes out buggy, it’s not the developer. The developer never says, “I refuse to fix the bug,” or, “I don’t know how.” They never do that. It’s the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it’s not the developer’s fault. So, (Fallout: New Vegas) goes out buggy and they didn’t do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No.

The inXile CEO also talks about the need for future game developers to figure out what craving they can satisfy in order to find an audience and be successful.

I would encourage anyone to find their niche market, their audience and start a relationship… If I had pitched another Call of Duty project, I probably wouldn’t have gotten funded. You have to think, “what is the need we are filling?” in order to have a chance.

The interview’s got details about setting expectations for people who’ve backed the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and offers some insight as to what kind of game Fargo will be trying to deliver. Go check it out.

Brian Fargo Talks Wasteland 2, “Abysmal” Publisher Treatment and Having Fun Again [RipTen, via Eurogamer]


  • “The publisher is always in charge of QA. ”

    Wow. This was news to me. So it’s Bethesda and their shitty QA, not Obsidian.

  • Is the publisher really responsible for QA?

    If so, why does Obsidian, who has worked with a number of different publishers, consistently release broken games? Are they over extending themselves? Is that still the publishers fault if they’re handed something so buggy that even after standard QA it still doesn’t work?

    And boy, wasn’t it foolish to agree to a metacritic bonus if such an important variable was outside their control.

  • As a long time QA tester I can tell you ALL development studios have their own internal QA. Yes publishers get the final say in which something should be fixed or not to meet store and marketing dates but the INTERNAL QA at the developer have the build usually for several months before it goes to publisher QA.

    Pushing out a buggy title to a publisher, then blaming the publisher QA entirely is poor form.

  • Qa tester and designer here. Publishers have their own QA crew and the dev studio has theirs. If a game is buggy then it has been because something has slipped through both nets or the time frame to fix said bug has fallen by the way side. My first QA project had the CEO of the company tear up the bug list we had supplied him with from the gold master build. Blame the publisher for changing the goal post but not the quality of the game. They are the product owner in the end and what they say goes.

    Having said that, publishers need to have more vision but unfortunately they are business that reports to shareholders and they cannot afford to take risks on niche products especially in this day and age of economic uncertainty.

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