More Evidence That Legacy Gatekeepers Just Don't Understand Modern Business Models

from the it's-not-that-hard dept

For a while now, we have written about how legacy gatekeepers need to adapt to modern culture and business models if they want to survive. The primary point of contention that keeps many of these companies from adapting is one of control. Many of them don't want to lose what remnants of control they have left in order to become enablers. This mindset is what will be the death of many companies as the world moves on without them.

Some companies are making at least a half-hearted, if not completely misguided, attempt at trying to be hip. However, it seems to have been about as successful as a 60 year-old trying to use modern slang in order to connect with kids. Take for instance this recent comment by Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart in which he describes an exchange he had with a publisher about Kickstarter.
We were actually contacted by some publishers over the last few months that wanted to use us to do a Kickstarter.

I said to them ‘So, you want us to do a Kickstarter for, using our name, we then get the Kickstarter money to make the game, you then publish the game, but we then don't get to keep the brand we make and we only get a portion of the profits’ They said, ‘Yes’.
If you can't see the huge glaring flaw in the unnamed publisher's approach, let me elaborate. This publisher wanted to use Kickstarter as the funding source for an as yet unidentified project, while still keeping every other aspect of the traditional publisher/developer relationship intact. This means that the publisher would pay no money upfront, limiting almost all risk for the success of the project, while reaping all the rewards. Seriously.

While it is great that this publisher had become aware of Kickstarter and its potential for success, the fact remains that those in charge do not understand it in the slightest. The draw of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services is to help creators fund their works and bring them to market. Few potential backers will be willing to support a project in which the creator loses all rights and control of the work after creation. These services are about empowering creators. A deal, such as the one above, in no way empowers the creator.

Hopefully, this is just a simple misstep as the publisher learns to walk the unfamiliar path of a new business model. We can hope that this publisher learns from this mistake and will take the time to better understand the culture behind crowdfunding and can find success by adapting itself to this culture rather than trying to shoehorn crowdfunding into its current business strategy. Because if it isn't willing to adapt, it might as well give up now.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:32am

    Well...

    I'll give them credit for TRYING at least.

    After all, if they don't try, they'll never learn, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:36am

    I think it's bad that they not only don't understand their own bullshit in these situations, but that they expect others to understand or reflect that same bullshit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Lol yeah. Its pretty sad when its basically you do all the work while we gain all the benefit for doing a whole lot of nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Tim K (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Trying to learn from SACEM?

    Sounds like the publishers are trying to learn from SACEM. We'll take money people want to pay you directly, and then we'll give you back a portion of it. Just trust us, we're doing it to help you...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:46am

    Modern slavery

    Record deals are the last remnants of legalized slavery.

    Totally compares to what the Irish went through when immigrating to the US working in coal mines.

    Also did you know they cant pay the royalties on some of the Star Wars movies because they didn't make money? Yeah... slavery indeed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:46am

    Of course legacy gatekeepers understand business models.

    The object is to maximize your profits as much possible while minimizing your risks as much as possible.

    And as Wall Street bankers at places like WaMu would tell you, who cares about future revenue when you can make LOTS of money NOW! So you make $50 million in a few years and then your company goes bankrupt, you still made big money during those years, and can go work for some other 'sucker', erm, 'company', once the last one goes bust.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re: Trying to learn from SACEM?

    They probably have a point in that regard, but the solution is questionable at best:

    "We cannot compete against a government monopoly. The only way to solve this problem is to give us the same kind of monopoly tools!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 8:58am

    Tactfully yours...

    I believe "in tact." should be " intact."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Re: Tactfully yours...

    Seems Zach is out of touch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:27am

    Re: Tactfully yours...

    Thanks. Fixed. Not sure how the typo makes me out of touch though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:45am

    More From Obsidian

    Here is a great interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone about Kickstarter and dealing with publishers:

    http://techland.time.com/2012/09/21/project-eternity-chris-avellone-interview/

    Som e highlights about publishers:

    A few months. And no, we didn’t run it by a publisher or even consider it. Why? Well, we’ve already run a number of fantasy worlds by publishers, and Project Eternity itself is less appealing to a publisher than the ones we’ve already pitched: “What, you want to do something like the old Infinity Engine games? On the PC (and Mac/Linux only)?” [Sound of door slamming.]

    As mentioned later, I can’t blame publishers for the model they’re trapped in. What I like about Kickstarter is it helps games that people want to play still get made, even if you don’t pump $20 million dollars into it to try and meet all the stupid bells and whistles that publishers feel must be in games nowadays.


    And this one:

    I can’t even blame publishers that much. When you’re dealing with 20+ million dollar budgets, I would pause before taking risks, too. But that’s part of the issue with their business model – I prefer Kickstarter because you end up asking what the players want first, if they’re willing to donate, and you know within 30 days if your idea resonates with the public. If it doesn’t, tough, go back to the drawing board, but at least you didn’t waste two years of your life making something people never wanted in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Tunnen (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Re: Well...

    I think even if they did try, they'd still never learn...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Tunnen (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Tactfully yours...

    Do you know where he could get more touch?

    =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Tactfully yours...

    I assume it's a Latin pun from the root words, "in" and "tactus".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 10:31am

    The only thing publishers have to add to a project is the money, and that's fine, but now they don't even want to put up the money!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 11:24am

    Re: Modern slavery

    The last remnants of slavery? Hardly. Slavery is all around us my good man. The capitalists control the means of production and if we want access to the means to live, we need access to that production and so we have to whore ourselves out to them. They own the factories, the farms, the hospitals and power plants. Because they own all that, they own us. Give the rich the power to control food and energy, and they will be able to control the people.

    The idea that slavery is gone is a myth, it's just been integrated into our very culture so well that we don't see it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    Re:

    They never wanted to put up the money, they just never had a way to pin that on someone else, until now....

    Which is funny because that was the only part that kept them from being chopped out of the process.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    Publishers are going to figure out that what they really own, and should only own, is a box full of copies of someone else's stuff. The fact that they own the IP of someone elses work has been something that's detrimental to the progress of their industry for a long time, although it has been great for their control of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2012 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Re: Well...

    They've been trying since the invention of the player piano, and they haven't learned yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Sep 21st, 2012 @ 10:57pm

    All of my rofl-copters... all of them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    The fact that they own the IP of someone elses work has been something that's detrimental to the progress of their industry for a long time, although it has been great for their control of it.

    This is sort of hard to say. Most software teams consist of a few dozen to a few hundred individuals that come and go. By having the investor hold the IP, at least one developer can't just take the project and run off. Where it becomes detrimental is after the project is over, that publisher retains the IP and causes headaches if the developers want to bring the project back or do an off-shoot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    I see this everyday, square peg round hole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This