Team17 has secured the rights to publish Age of Darkness: Final Stand, the upcoming Australian RTS from Melbourne developers PlaySide Studios. Now while that’s not usually newsworthy, what’s interesting here is just how much money Team17 has spent on the project.
We don’t typically report on publishers acquiring titles because in almost every single circumstance there’s no actual news to report. Kojima getting picked up by Sony — sure, that’s big. But most of the time, all parties are bound under strict contracts and NDAs preventing them from revealing any details, and so the world moves on.
But this time, things are a little different. We’ve been covering PlaySide’s Age of Darkness here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a neat looking RTS and a major step forward for a studio that’s previously made most of its success in the mobile/AR space. The game was due to come out this week — today, in fact — but the recent Team17 news has pushed that launch back to October 7, according to the new date on the Steam page.
The delay’s understandable, though, when you get into the fine print. And that’s the second fun part: PlaySide is one of a few video game companies that are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. And unlike most video game companies, that means they’re legally required to report on any signings or contracts that would have a material impact on their stock price.
Here’s the details from PlaySide’s ASX announcement, emphasis mine:
The strategic long-term agreement will result in Team17 being the publisher for Age of Darkness: Final Stand, with PlaySide continuing as developer. Team17 will provide a series of recoupable monthly payments totalling *AUD$2.44 million to PlaySide over 9 months in FY22 to fund the continuing development of Age of Darkness: Final Stand in exchange for the publishing rights. The payments are recoupable from PlaySide’s future revenue share.
Precisely how much it’ll be in Australian dollars will probably vary a little — the $2.44 million was calculated using yesterday’s USD/AUD exchange rate, so I’m betting PlaySide hopes the Aussie dollar stays quiet for the next year.
It’s fascinating to actually have this detail out in the open, because we often know next to nothing about developer and publisher agreements unless someone breaks an NDA. Team17 and PlaySide don’t have that option due to the ASX’s listed requirements, and you can understand why PlaySide would want this info out there.
Team17, which famously made its name on the Worms franchise before reinventing itself as a hugely successful indie and AA publisher in the last decade, will also look after the marketing and promotion, although the agreement notes that “marketing costs will be shared between the parties”.
“The partnership provides an opportunity for PlaySide to partner with Team17 on additional platforms for this title and new opportunities outside of Age of Darkness: Final Stand which would not have been possible without this agreement,” PlaySide announced.
There’s the other side of this which is worth following too, which is Team17 itself. Not the fact that they’ve got money to spend — Team17 has a market capitalisation of more than one billion pounds at the time of writing — but the fact that Team17 are just spending so much money in the Australian market.
Over the last couple of years, Team17 has threw money at and published the following Australian games:
- Moving Out, which recently surpassed 500,000 sales
- Hell Let Loose, the hardcore WW2 100-player shooter from Sydney studio Black Matter which just left Early Access, and is due for a console release in October
- Broken Roads, the Aussie post-apocalyptic Fallout-style cRPG
- Golf With Your Friends, the mini-golf game made by Brisbane studio Blacklight Interactive that Team17 acquired for roughly $22 million
That’s a hell of a lot of money, but it’s also nice to have some clarity on precisely how much it costs to make video games in the current day and age. And it’s also useful to have this stuff on the record for those still questioning the economics of federal investments in video games.
Correction: The original story misread the ASX announcement and reported the total figure as almost $22 million. Team17 will be paying PlaySide $2.44 million AUD in total over 9 months, subject to currency fluctuations. We apologise and regret the error.