Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Game News Stoic's John Watson at NASSCOM GDC 2016: The Banner Saga 2 was a commercial disappointment

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    I didn’t say it is risky business, I said it is bad business, period. Unless you have a stable job in a big studio, but even then you heard lots of absurd stories about atrocious conditions of work, mismanagement, etc. You will find sites made by developers that are entirely dedicate to these problems. The game industry is a cancerous environment.

    I couldn’t possibly think in a worse example to bring into this discussion. There wasn’t strategy in anything he did. The reality is that he was developing two games simultaneously: “Dragon Comander” and “Divinity: Original Sin”. Which is completely craziness. He then released an incomplete and unpolished “Dragon Comander” to help funding D:OS. Larian then went to kickstarter with D:OS because he was over his head with debts by that time. The kickstarter was a success and fans love him, but the game was released filled with bugs, empty areas, ignoring many kickstarter promises, etc. The game end up being a success despite the main developer behaving like a loon, not because of it. Now that they have a profit, what do they do? They create another studio, which is just the most ludicrous financial decision you can think off for a medium studio. And am I supposed to be impressed by this? It’s amazing the amount of goodwill you guys arbitrarily attribute to some developers. He was desperate to avoid bankruptcy and was lucky enough to be supported by the press and the moment for all the wrong reasons.
     
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  2. I'm With Her Mustawd for prison Shitty Team Member, ditch at first opportunity Douchebag! Illiterate Sychophantic Noob Village Idiot Weasel Repressed Homosexual Possibly Retarded Trigger Warning Edgy No Fun Allowed Shitposter Cuck Manlet

    Mustawd
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    I can't think of a better one.

    Yet you go on to list part of their strategy as well as financing options with debt (iirc).

    Welcome to the games industry. Shit is super high risk high reward. Larian took a huge risk and the reward was being able to fund a turn-based rpg with good combat. It even did well enough for a funded sequel. That's incline in my book.

    How is this relevant to what we're discussing?


    Who cares? Again, how is this relevant? Oh yah, because Lurker King.

    Umm, yes. P. much. Larian is a company that got buffeted by the winds of the games industry as well as some of their own mistakes, they adapted, made some very tough decisions, took a lot of calculated risks, and came out successful in the end. That's very impressive financial management of a crisis situation. I'm not referring to decisions made prior tp that or what they're doing after D:OS. I'm specifically referring to how they handled the funding of D:OS.

    You're the one attributing feelings to this. I'm not. I simply made a statement that I was impressed by their financial decisions to make D:OS. How is that arbitrary goodwill?
     
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  3. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    It’s higher risk, low rewards. For each hit like D:OS, you have hundreds of failures. They didn’t adapt to anything. They got lucky. If you think they sold well because of good combat, you are dreaming.

    It is relevant because it shows that his decision making is dubious, that he promises things he didn't know he couldn't deliver. Again zero planing.

    Is relevant because it shows lack of common sense when business is concerned.

    In case you haven’t understood this yet, let me emphasize this: the game industry is an inefficient market. The main agents, like developers, are completely blind most of the time and have ludicrous assumptions about their target audience, mismanage their time and funds, and release crappy products. If you have brought Obsidian in this, I would agree. They made a game designed to milk a specific audience, which it did. It’s a horrible game, but it was intended to be that way for the most part. But Larian? They didn't make calculated risks, they made a lot of mistakes that paid of due to a bunch of random variables. Just because a game sold well, it doesn't mean that the business plan and development cycle behind it was solid. In this case, it certainly wasn't.
     
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  4. I'm With Her Mustawd for prison Shitty Team Member, ditch at first opportunity Douchebag! Illiterate Sychophantic Noob Village Idiot Weasel Repressed Homosexual Possibly Retarded Trigger Warning Edgy No Fun Allowed Shitposter Cuck Manlet

    Mustawd
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    I think you don't quite understand what high risk high reward means


    We're talking about a specific example, and you're making it about Larian, the studio. Why?

    Dude...ALL business is is making decisions and hoping your assumptions are correct. No one has a fucking crystal ball. Larian's decisions are riskier because a lot of things could have happened to blow the whole thing up. Yes, things swung their way, but it's no different than getting unlucky and having all your best laid plans get blown up by a random variable. Besides, the reason they were able to capitalize in the first place is specifically because they made those decisions.

    It takes a special kind of person who points at a successful game launch and calls it bad business. Your bias, as always, is showing pretty hard here mate.
     
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  5. Alexandros Cipher

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    There's a simple explanation for why the sequel flopped. Most of the people who played the first game didn't like it or didn't want more of it.
     
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  6. Make America Great Again Johannes Arcane

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    It's good business if you're good enough, same as anything. Clearly there are winners (some really big winners, too) in the indie games game, and with serious skill you can heavily tilt the odds in your favor of making it compared to an average wannabe designer chump.


    I couldn’t possibly think in a worse example to bring into this discussion. There wasn’t strategy in anything he did. The reality is that he was developing two games simultaneously: “Dragon Comander” and “Divinity: Original Sin”. Which is completely craziness. He then released an incomplete and unpolished “Dragon Comander” to help funding D:OS. Larian then went to kickstarter with D:OS because he was over his head with debts by that time. The kickstarter was a success and fans love him, but the game was released filled with bugs, empty areas, ignoring many kickstarter promises, etc. The game end up being a success despite the main developer behaving like a loon, not because of it. Now that they have a profit, what do they do? They create another studio, which is just the most ludicrous financial decision you can think off for a medium studio. And am I supposed to be impressed by this? It’s amazing the amount of goodwill you guys arbitrarily attribute to some developers. He was desperate to avoid bankruptcy and was lucky enough to be supported by the press and the moment for all the wrong reasons.[/QUOTE]
    They're doing fine so far. Maybe time will prove you right and they'll soon go bankrupt, but for the time being I say their financial track record looks good, so I'm not sure how strong a case you have there. Are you confident enough in your assessment that you'd bet money against their success?
     
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  7. DarkArcher Novice

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    It's pretty reasonable to think sequel when the first one sold so well. It's also kinda nice that their first instinct wasn't "Hey, we'll just go back to KS". Instead they felt they had the funding to go ahead.

    Now, blindly anticipating lightning would strike twice and everybody wanted more was wrong. Why do they think people want more for a third one? Some developers do generate more goodwill and support than others. Likely because they are so visible. However, these guys seem like they have tunnel vision and just trying to get community engaged to complete the trilogy instead of caring what people want.
     
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  8. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    Being good enough has nothing to do with it. Games can be hits for all the sort of random reasons. Or do you think that more than one million people think that Undertale is that good? It's a gamble. If there is a pattern, is this: the more challenging, complex and oldschool your cRPG is, the worse it sells. That is the law. D:OS wouldn't sell anything if didnt had co-op and MMO graphics.
     
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  9. Make America Great Again Johannes Arcane

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    First you say that it's all random and nothing to do with quality.
    Then you qualify rules about how to control said randomness. Whether your assessments are correct or not, it contradicts the earlier statement. Pick one.
     
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  10. Make America Great Again Kem0sabe Arcane

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    The development of the first game was rife with problems, even so they decided to push ahead with the sequel, so here are the consequences.

    Banner saga is all about visuals over substance, the game tries to force the narrative down your throat, along with the terrible combat, the mobile game mechanics, and the ludicrous length and replayability.
     
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  11. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    Good point. I think that:

    (1) there are some commonsensical principles that will prevent you to get into severe debt.

    (2) the chances of making a profit in this industry are really low.

    (3) the chances are even lower if your game is really challenging, complex, etc.

    (4) the development of hits like D:OS or Undertale cannot be examples of a successful business model because they are rare and bizarre exceptions. Thus, they tell you nothing about what made them sell in the first place. This also holds for the entertainment industry in general.

    (5) there seems to be an incoherence between (3) and (4). my point is that while having certain features can prevent you to achieve a larger public, not having these obstacles doesn't assure your millions of units sold.

    (6) success for most developers amount to being well paid while working for a publisher or breaking even while making your dream game.
     
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  12. I'm With Her Mustawd for prison Shitty Team Member, ditch at first opportunity Douchebag! Illiterate Sychophantic Noob Village Idiot Weasel Repressed Homosexual Possibly Retarded Trigger Warning Edgy No Fun Allowed Shitposter Cuck Manlet

    Mustawd
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    Debt in and of itself is not a bad thing. It can certainly create issues if you become too leveraged and debt payments become to burden your financial condition. However, it's very useful when you need financing in specific circumstances.

    So is the grocery store business. Margins are laughable. I don't see your point.

    You are completely missing the boat on the D:OS example. The example was given to make the point that sometimes companies need to make hard decisions (aka give up on Dragon Commander or giving up on certain features like day/night cycle) in order to stay viable and continue making games. If it was up to you Larian would have said screw D:OS and missed the 2012-2014 cRPG revival on Kickstarter.

    And continuing with this "D:OS is an aberration" meme is getting old. Yes, a lot of their success has to do with good timing. Yes a lot of it has to do with co-op, appealing graphics. Yes, their marketing is spot on and Swen's personality appeals to people and makes them want to buy their game. Those are all reasons for Larian's success, although not necessarily easily replicated.

    Wtf is this sentence even saying?

    ??? How is this relevant?



    Let's break it down because you obviously don't get it:


    1. Banner Saga 1 rode the same cRPG kickstarter hype train that D:OS did. It had great visuals, people enjoyed it, but there were some real complaints on the combat and how C&C was handled.

    2. Banner Saga 2 was basically more of the same with a few tweaks to improve things. But the point is that if you liked BS1 the thought was that you'd like BS2.

    3. BS2 did not do well financially even though it was basically just a copy of the BS1 formula. Some reasons for this can be crappy marketing (which can be improved), a crowded marketplace (which will only get worse with a BS3), and the possibility that BS1 was just not that great of a game after all.

    4. The dev team dipped into their savings and retirement to help finish funding BS2

    Now if you are running the company, what exactly is telling you that a third installment is gonna do well enough? Keep in mind that you really need to move enough copies to not only cover costs, but also to pay back investors (assuming they use them) and help pay for your family and their needs. For these guys success specifically means it needs to be commercially successful. If not then the company will fold, they're out a shit ton of money form their savings/retirement, and better games from them (as a team) probably will never happen.

    Besides, it's not like they're gonna make huge changes to BS3 to get people excited. It's also not like BS2 was a DA2, where fans were angry at some of the changes made. BS2 was simply not interesting enough for people to buy.

    But yeah. Totally go for the trilogy right now. Makes great sense.
     
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  13. Make America Great Again CyberWhale Arcane

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    They should just do another Kickstarter/Fig/whatever for the third game. If it succeeds - cool, they'll finish the trilogy. If not - not cool, but at least they won't end up on the street.
     
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  14. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Mustawd, I'm not sure that you and Lurker King are actually arguing about the same thing. :M

    My guess is he's tied himself up in knots trying to promote whatever he thinks Vault Dweller's business strategy is.
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Johannes Arcane

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    In any creative industry there's no clear formula to be succesful. Nevertheless if you're good at what you do - not just making a game that people want, but also marketing etc. - you will most likely be succesful. The catch is of course, you cannot know beforehand whether you're actually a good game developer with a good idea, or just think you are.

    Good game in this context of course doesn't mean one that'll just get a good codex review, but one that'll sell well, make money and keep you in business. You need some combo of good marketing research (or good timing by dumb luck), vision, and technical skill to realize that vision.

    And your belief about challenge or complexity harming your chances are only true if you do it badly. It's so easy to come up with examples of complex and/or challenging games, both big studios and smallest indies, that do well, that I won't bother with individual examples. Of course casul games are a bigger market, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's easier for a new dev to make money that way. RPG market right now might be quite saturated, I think, but that's not about complexity per se. Either way you gotta find an underserved (or completely new) niche, regardless of its absolute size.
     
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  16. Make America Great Again Johannes Arcane

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    No, I think he's saying VD just got lucky. Despite shooting himself in the foot with challenge and complexity, the dice can still roll that way.
     
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  17. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    What I am saying is that the game industry is muddy waters and the rules are not that simple as in regular business.

    But this is not an example of a conscious hard decision, it is an example of a desperate decision. Of course, I have no intention of defending the BS guys.

    But I don't believe that there is such a thing as the good game for the target audience, for the most part. Not in kickstarter and nostalgia cash grabs. You just need to look at steam to see that most players don't bother to finish their games. In fact, I suspect that many backers and buyers don't play their games. Everything here is bogus: the target audience, the backers, the journalists, etc. As for marketing, yes, that helps a lot. But you have to consider the costs involved, the size of the teams, etc. I will repeat. i don't believe that these medium studios achieved a sustainable business model even when (if) they succeeded. I think that they managed to be on the right side of the curve for now, but that could change at any moment.
     
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  18. Make America Great Again Johannes Arcane

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    Sustainable in what sense? Of course they can't keep doing the same thing over and over indefinitely, nobody's saying that.

    Just because there's a lot of data available and it's hard to sort out the bogus and irrelevant from the relevant, doesn't mean it's all up to the fates. Making games that people want to play does actually play a part in success.
     
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  19. I'm With Her Mustawd for prison Shitty Team Member, ditch at first opportunity Douchebag! Illiterate Sychophantic Noob Village Idiot Weasel Repressed Homosexual Possibly Retarded Trigger Warning Edgy No Fun Allowed Shitposter Cuck Manlet

    Mustawd
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    FFS, you should have just said that from the beginning. Yes, I can agree with that. I'll also add that not only has nostalgia effect worn off, but now the environment is much more crowded and it's harder to get attention, even if you already made a name for yourself.

    To be fair, all the devs need is for you to buy them.
     
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  20. aratuk Learned

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    I think even calling it something other than "Banner Saga 2" would have been smarter. It doesn't allow it to have any identity beyond "more of same". The people who want more of the same will know it's a sequel, and the people who are enticed by novelty are easily fooled by marketing will be drawn in by the differences. Especially true if you realize how much simply offering "something different" was instrumental to your original success.

    Instead of throwing good money after bad, maybe they should wrap up their Banner Saga story with a cheaper game like Out There Chronicles (mostly text, cyoa), and spend their real money on something new.
     
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  21. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Perhaps this has been mentioned elsewhere, but Arnold Hendricks, the superhuman behind Barbarian Prince and Darklands, said that a Darklands sequel would require $10M to make.

    http://steamcommunity.com/app/327930/discussions/0/343788552550787364/


    :takemymoney:

    [EDIT: And to remake Darklands would require "$20 to $30 million, and at least 2 1/2 years, plus however long it takes to assemble the core development team (maybe another half year?)"! Or maybe it's just that the numbers are going up as the recount gets more expensive.]
     
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  22. duanth123 Arcane

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    He's hungry for that Chris Roberts lifestyle
     
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  23. laclongquan Arcane

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    I am a marketing guy, so the KS campaigns to me mean making connection with your buying customers. Dropping KS for your sequel is a stupid move in this day and age of interconnecting. Your customers need to know you are still there, and what you are doing, and whether it still interest them. If you dont want the hassle, find a guy for your KS actions.

    Second, I sense developers' pride and preconception. They think they are the big boys now and they can do whatever they think is right: dropping KS, investing shitload of their own money... They are not that big. Hell, no indie developers are that big. Other than the Projekt Witcher guys and they are not exactly indie in the first place.

    Third: bad business sense. The stench of that stink to high heaven.

    Last shot: Darkland is not that valuable. Sure, the fanbois praise it to sky but nuh uh...
     
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  24. HoboForEternity Cipher

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    i honestly worry about divinity original sin 2 too. because it looks like they put too much investment to this one, and think the ip/sub title original sin will attract all of DO:S buyers. they blew up their money by having new buildings (one that needs heavy rennovation too from the likes of it), opening branch, etc.
    that seems to be an unnecessary risk and investment. DOS sold alot of numbers, sure, but it was when the kickstarter craze and "RPG Renaissance" craze was still in. media hyped kickstarter campaigns that popped up, follow games extensively, etc.

    the situation 3 years ago, and even further, 4-5 years ago when DOS was KS campaign were done is really really different. kickstarter is a now viewed as a "risky investments" RPG is being back into a niche, etc.
     
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  25. Lurker King Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    It’s not just the noise in the data. It’s the very structure of the business. Just think about it. First, you are collectively working on something without pay for long periods in the hope that the product will sell enough to pay off your initial investment. You can’t do that because you have to eat. Now, you are going around begging asking people money to eat while you are working for free. The problem is that these people are only giving you their money if you give them your final product for free and a bunch of other expensive shenanigans. The payroll is huge. If one variable falls out of place, you start hemorrhaging money, cut people off, etc. Rinse and repeat. That is a huge gamble. Triple-A model makes more sense. You are paid to do a job for somebody else and you have reasonable expectations that your end product will sell enough to keep you working. Everything works.
     
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