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.

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Companies: kickstarter, obsidian

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Comments on “More Evidence That Legacy Gatekeepers Just Don't Understand Modern Business Models”

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Greevar (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

More From Obsidian

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

Some 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

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