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Tim Schafer

Tim answers questions on v1.0

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With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

You could get BA (the full game) for $15 during the Kickstarter; and that included access to the beta, access to the 2PP documentary, access to the private backer forum. So if you'd sell BA Act 1 now for $15 or $20, and raise its price to $25 once Act 2 is out, no backer should have felt betrayed by anything.

As for "making its numbers": it is hitting the absolut minimum, the pessimistic estimate. It is by no means hitting the numbers that DF hoped for: You could see the disappointment in the doc. It really looks like Adventure Games are dead.

BTW, is there a way to see how many times a game is on Steam Wishlists? (Like, "1.234 people have this on their wish list"?)

As the game still isn't released, I don't understand how you can make those assumptions.

I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

If I hadn't backed DF at kickstarter I wouldn't have bought Broken Age yet as the game isn't complete. I think, and know, that a lot of other people acts and thinks the same on the subject.

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you. There are a few exceptions where it worked ok (Telltale), but even then, I never bought anything before all episodes were out.

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As the game still isn't released, I don't understand how you can make those assumptions.

Well, DF is making this very assumption with SBDF9 and are stopping development because of it. (And I could argue that BA Act 1 is actually a finished, polished, bug-free game but with an open end, while SBDF9 is currently neither finished nor polished or bug-free...)

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With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

You could get BA (the full game) for $15 during the Kickstarter; and that included access to the beta, access to the 2PP documentary, access to the private backer forum. So if you'd sell BA Act 1 now for $15 or $20, and raise its price to $25 once Act 2 is out, no backer should have felt betrayed by anything.

As for "making its numbers": it is hitting the absolut minimum, the pessimistic estimate. It is by no means hitting the numbers that DF hoped for: You could see the disappointment in the doc. It really looks like Adventure Games are dead.

BTW, is there a way to see how many times a game is on Steam Wishlists? (Like, "1.234 people have this on their wish list"?)

I said at the time the doc came out I feel like I watched a different episode to everyone else. To me, the over-all message was pretty positive. The game made its numbers and so the show goes on. There was some disappointment that it didn't make the higher-level estimates that they hoped for, which would have given DF more autonomy, but it was by no means a doom and gloom episode.

Your post compelled me to go back and watch again, and here's what they actually say:

After 800k Steam sales in the first week: "--Which is fine. That's not a big enough number that we're going to be able to be completely independent of publishers, which was a secret back of my head hope"

Then Tim talks about the funding weirdness of making most of the money from the game pre-act 2, since they'd expect an Act 2 sales bump but wouldn't expect it to be equal.

"The first part made enough money. It definitely made its numbers. We went through phases of 'let's estimate conservatively' how much this game is going to sell..."

Then it cuts to people's early guesses at how much it's going to sell. Greg Rice: 1 million (Tim acts surprised). Justin Bailey (worth noting that this is the guy in charge of the business side of things: 150k year one. And some things somewhere between that. I think I just heard "200k lifetime" figure being bandied about.

Then he goes onto talk about how they had some optimism at the positive response to it, and were hoping if the game is a hit, then it would "change a lot of stuff for us".

So the disappointment was that it didn't hit the life changing figures.

That section of the doc is capped off: "So it didn't sell so much that it changed our whole business model for the year, but it sold about what we originally estimated."

Back to another meeting: "So far it's made about $1.6 million on Steam, which is awesome, that's about 70,000 added to the 80,000 backers"

Might have got some of those numbers wrong, rushing through this because I gotta go in a sec.

Tim's closing thought on the sales is: "I don't want to be too sad about its hitting its numbers, there's just always this little part of me that thinks 'what if it was this crazy unexpected outlier hit'" or words to that effect.

So it's not bare minimum hitting its numbers: it's selling about what they thought it would sell, they're just mildly disappointed it didn't become a 'hit' for them.

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So it's not bare minimum hitting its numbers: it's selling about what they thought it would sell, they're just mildly disappointed it didn't become a 'hit' for them.

Your posting made me remember that we actually have some numbers to check this.

First, we have "Production Update #1: Where does all the $$$$ go?" ( http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6443/ ): From the Kickstarter, they had a budget of 2,23 M$ for BA.

Next, we have Act 1 Production Statistics (http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/13509/"): Act 1 needed a total of 339 man months; if we take 10 K$ per MM, Act 1 cost 3,39 M$. So, there are 1,16 M$ missing for Act 1.

Stating your 1,6 M$ on Steam would bridge that gap, but barely so, because 1st we don't know if this number is before or after any Steam fees, and second we still have to take into account the development cost for Act 2.

And if I were to use the 14 K$ per MM that you've quoted as Tim's upper limit earlier in this thread, the total cost of Act 1 is way over 4 M$.

I fail to see how that is anything but hitting bare minimum.

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With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

You could get BA (the full game) for $15 during the Kickstarter; and that included access to the beta, access to the 2PP documentary, access to the private backer forum. So if you'd sell BA Act 1 now for $15 or $20, and raise its price to $25 once Act 2 is out, no backer should have felt betrayed by anything.

As for "making its numbers": it is hitting the absolut minimum, the pessimistic estimate. It is by no means hitting the numbers that DF hoped for: You could see the disappointment in the doc. It really looks like Adventure Games are dead.

BTW, is there a way to see how many times a game is on Steam Wishlists? (Like, "1.234 people have this on their wish list"?)

As the game still isn't released, I don't understand how you can make those assumptions.

I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

If I hadn't backed DF at kickstarter I wouldn't have bought Broken Age yet as the game isn't complete. I think, and know, that a lot of other people acts and thinks the same on the subject.

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you. There are a few exceptions where it worked ok (Telltale), but even then, I never bought anything before all episodes were out.

Seems like you understand making assumptions quite well.

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If this would be true, unless he wanted to offer the Angry Birds of point & click adventures (which he maybe kind of tried to with this flow nonsense and bland casual approach) it could make sense caring about designing a game with some hit potential first before expecting a hit in sales, at least when you're interested in the adventure genre instead of a broader (casual) market. If he was aiming for the second then it's kind of weird because it contradicts with the initial Kickstarter campaign he got all the money for. Seriously, i see no reason why act 1 should have been the hit he might be was hoping for. I mean looking at some hits, there is a lot of bad taste out there but still ...

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So it's not bare minimum hitting its numbers: it's selling about what they thought it would sell, they're just mildly disappointed it didn't become a 'hit' for them.

Your posting made me remember that we actually have some numbers to check this.

First, we have "Production Update #1: Where does all the $$$$ go?" ( http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6443/ ): From the Kickstarter, they had a budget of 2,23 M$ for BA.

Next, we have Act 1 Production Statistics (http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/13509/"): Act 1 needed a total of 339 man months; if we take 10 K$ per MM, Act 1 cost 3,39 M$. So, there are 1,16 M$ missing for Act 1.

Stating your 1,6 M$ on Steam would bridge that gap, but barely so, because 1st we don't know if this number is before or after any Steam fees, and second we still have to take into account the development cost for Act 2.

And if I were to use the 14 K$ per MM that you've quoted as Tim's upper limit earlier in this thread, the total cost of Act 1 is way over 4 M$.

I fail to see how that is anything but hitting bare minimum.

Sorry for the long post, but I figured this was worth some ballparking.

My job involves knowing a lot about the way films, TV shows (and even a few games), and how the revenue then gets divvied up. It's a complex business, but the basics are simple.

I like to think of it in terms of buckets o' cash.

Imagine that you start a project with a bunch of buckets and 0 cash.

In the traditional publisher model, a publisher says, "Okay, we're going to lend you our own bucket (say) $5 million dollars, but it comes at a price. We sell the game, and not until it makes back at least the $5 million dollars back and probably a bit more on top of that (because our deals are often super unfriendly) will you see a small slice of the cash"

So in this model, the developer spends all the money in the bucket, and then has to wait until that 5 million bucket fills all the way back up, and they get to keep a tiny bit of that overspill, and put it in their own bucket, if the game sells enough. Many development teams, even for high profile games, never see any of this overspill.

With Broken Age, the picture is more simple and more complex at the same time.

Firstly, instead of a publisher, backers filled up this $3.4 million bucket (more like 2.5 for the game itself), and there's no refilling of the bucket needed before Double Fine gets their cut. That's just money they have to spend on the game, no strings attached.

They spend all that money, and in the mean time they get money from other sources. They get it from a few main sources:

* Ouya console exclusivity period (easy money since they didn't plan a console release and were already making an Android version). since there's no repayment here, this is similar to the backer money, the only string attached is a non-financial one. So we can add whatever that figure was to the 3.4 million bucket.

* Profits from sales of other games. This is slightly trickier. It's still their money to spend, and they can therefore choose how to do that, but the usual thing would be to invest that kind of cash into something that's going to make a profit. So far, we think they've pooled about $2.5 million profits from these buckets into a seperate bucket. It's this $2.5 million that they need to beat, to make it financially worthwhile.

Worth clarifying that at this point they're not 3 million 'in the hole' like they would be with a publisher. They've just invested 3 million in a project.

Then add to that an unknown amount of Act 1 money that is getting reinvested straight into Act 2. Maybe about $3.5 million then?

The good news is, because there's no publisher recoupment of advance going on, every sale from Day 1 is going to pay off this investment.

What we know from the time that second meeting was recorded is that they'd made 1.6 million on the game, and that was quite some time ago. Since then they've also released on iOS, so I think we can probably guess that by this point, what with other Steam Sales and whatnot, they're likely to be somwhere between 2 and 2.5 million right now. Which means that over the rest of the lifetime of Broken Age, they will need to make about $1-1.5 million to make back the money that they personally invested into the project. I don't think that's unlikely. They'll see a bump from the release of act 2 which I would think gets them most of the way there, and anything they make beyond that is lovely.

Important in all of this is that there is nothing owed here, like there is with a publisher. So they can't really 'lose', they can only really end up with less positive numbers than they started with.

So the scenarios are:

Impossible: Actually going into debt because of the project (they haven't borrowed any money that we know of)

Worst case scenario: the game doesn't make back as much money as they personally invested, and so their bucket for the next round of funding is smaller. It looks probable that they either have already or expect by Act 2 to beat these odds.

Modest success: They get back what they personally invested, and a little bit more, over time. This seems likely, when crunching the numbers.

Major success: They get back what they personally invested, and a lot more. This seems unlikely.

Since I think the project looks on track for the 'Modest success' scenario, that's why I don't think it's quite right to say bare minimum. Bare minimum would have been 'Worst case scenario'. That wouldn't have ruined them, but it would have made the next funding cycle smaller. Either way, they still have a bucket o' cash to spend on future projects. (And more buckets soon from MC, CQ2 and GFDeluxe).

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I don't understand it when people talk about the early access sales tapering off. Yea...they tapered off because it's early access and the game is far from complete. The early access sales were probably something like 10% of the sales you would have actually seen if you had actually finished the game and released it. There are a lot of people like me that were just waiting for DF to release a decent final product. Again, isn't this what game development is? Isn't this was business is? You're not supposed to make a bunch of money BEFORE a game is finished. You're supposed to make a bunch of money AFTER a GOOD game is released. It appears by Tim's response that he and DF have forgotten this important fact.

Exactly. Or at least if they got it to a more complete state where there's stuff to do after the first hour. Sims are supposed to be kind of ongoing, ever-expanding thing, but DF9 only ever got the beginning part down and after that the base kind of runs itself.

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First, we have "Production Update #1: Where does all the $$$$ go?" ( http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6443/ ): From the Kickstarter, they had a budget of 2,23 M$ for BA.

Next, we have Act 1 Production Statistics (http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/13509/"): Act 1 needed a total of 339 man months; if we take 10 K$ per MM, Act 1 cost 3,39 M$. So, there are 1,16 M$ missing for Act 1.

Firstly, instead of a publisher, backers filled up this $3.4 million bucket (more like 2.5 for the game itself), and there's no refilling of the bucket needed before Double Fine gets their cut. That's just money they have to spend on the game, no strings attached.

They spend all that money, and in the mean time they get money from other sources. They get it from a few main sources:

* Ouya console exclusivity period (easy money since they didn't plan a console release and were already making an Android version). since there's no repayment here, this is similar to the backer money, the only string attached is a non-financial one. So we can add whatever that figure was to the 3.4 million bucket.

* Profits from sales of other games. This is slightly trickier. It's still their money to spend, and they can therefore choose how to do that, but the usual thing would be to invest that kind of cash into something that's going to make a profit. So far, we think they've pooled about $2.5 million profits from these buckets into a seperate bucket. It's this $2.5 million that they need to beat, to make it financially worthwhile.

These sound like reasonable high/low estimates, so they invested somewhere between $1.16m and $2.5m of their own money to fund Act 1, depending on how much they got from Ouya and how much outside contracts cost. As KestrelPi says, that's what they need to recoup before they start making a profit.

We actually know from the most recent documentary that as of July 8, 2014 PC sales grossed $2,531,598 and console sales grossed $297,743 (Ep. 16 26:48). Let's assume that both steam and apple take 30% of the gross, leaving Double Fine with 70%, or $1,980,538.70. We could start talking about profits now, but the situation is more complicated. It sounds to me like the budget for Act 2 is roughly $2m, all of which is probably coming out of Act 1 sales. So I think it's reasonable to assume that they will use all the Act 1 sales from now until Act 2 release to fund Act 2.

What this means is that their actual investment remains somewhere between $1.16m and $2.5. If Act 2 and the game going forward hit these numbers, they recouped their investment. That means they probably need to do about as well for Act 2 as they did for Act 1. Tim doesn't seem to think that is very likely, but there you go. From a purely budget financial standpoint, Broken Age is likely a bit worse than a publisher deal where the game doesn't make a profit. In that case, the developer would have made payroll for 2-3 years, invested no money, and have $0 at the end. Here, Double Fine made payroll for 2-3 years, invested between $1.16-$2.5m of money they got independent of Broken Age, and will likely have <$1.16m-$2.5 at the end of the day.

From a broader perspective, it's much more complicated. They now have a new engine, they have the rights to Broken Age, they had enough publicity to fund more of AF 2012 and AF 2014 than they would have otherwise, and the company has gotten into other crowdfunded projects which were influenced by Broken Age. A lot more people know about them, for better or worse (I hope and think better). I would guess that they came out ahead if you take the broad and long view.

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I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

...

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you.

Why not back these Kickstarters? I mean, I didn't expect episodes, and I didn't play BS5 until both episodes came out, but it wasn't really different as a game than BS2 which I played before it (except it was better and felt less broken into parts). Haven't played Broken Age yet, I'll play it when it's completely out.

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I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

...

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you.

Why not back these Kickstarters? I mean, I didn't expect episodes, and I didn't play BS5 until both episodes came out, but it wasn't really different as a game than BS2 which I played before it (except it was better and felt less broken into parts). Haven't played Broken Age yet, I'll play it when it's completely out.

...maybe because they don't like playing bits of a game, and would rather just play a complete one?

I'm that way - I don't like to play episodic games until they've completed a season or whatever, because it feels like I'm only playing a small part of a complete game, and I don't like having to wait for the rest of it. So I can totally understand others who feel the same way.

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From a broader perspective, it's much more complicated. They now have a new engine, they have the rights to Broken Age, they had enough publicity to fund more of AF 2012 and AF 2014 than they would have otherwise, and the company has gotten into other crowdfunded projects which were influenced by Broken Age. A lot more people know about them, for better or worse (I hope and think better). I would guess that they came out ahead if you take the broad and long view.

I didn't think about that, but you are right: I would not have bought DF9 if I wouldn't had watched AF 2012, and I only watched that because I backed BA and got to know DF...

Also, having the new engine as well as the IP might prove to be valuable investments for the future going forward.

Having said and discussed all that, the whole situation about DF9 sucks even more for me now; not only because I don't get the game I'd hoped for, but also because DF's reputation seems to really get a bad hit over this. I really hope DF finds a way to gain back he lost trust of some of its customers...

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From a broader perspective, it's much more complicated. They now have a new engine, they have the rights to Broken Age, they had enough publicity to fund more of AF 2012 and AF 2014 than they would have otherwise, and the company has gotten into other crowdfunded projects which were influenced by Broken Age. A lot more people know about them, for better or worse (I hope and think better). I would guess that they came out ahead if you take the broad and long view.

I didn't think about that, but you are right: I would not have bought DF9 if I wouldn't had watched AF 2012, and I only watched that because I backed BA and got to know DF...

Also, having the new engine as well as the IP might prove to be valuable investments for the future going forward.

Having said and discussed all that, the whole situation about DF9 sucks even more for me now; not only because I don't get the game I'd hoped for, but also because DF's reputation seems to really get a bad hit over this. I really hope DF finds a way to gain back he lost trust of some of its customers...

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAME KEEEEEEEYS FOR EVERYONE!!!! xD = solved

I am repeating this for so long until it happens... sometimes you have to be simple-minded... :)

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GAAAAAAAAAAAAAME KEEEEEEEYS FOR EVERYONE!!!! xD = solved

I am repeating this for so long until it happens... sometimes you have to be simple-minded... :)

It seems like a really simple solution. The most I've seen argued against this has been the potential loss of face (admitting DF fucked up). It sends a clear message that DF will take care of its customers even if things don't go as planned, and that would do a lot to restore faith in the company.

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I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

...

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you.

Why not back these Kickstarters? I mean, I didn't expect episodes, and I didn't play BS5 until both episodes came out, but it wasn't really different as a game than BS2 which I played before it (except it was better and felt less broken into parts). Haven't played Broken Age yet, I'll play it when it's completely out.

That's an "all's well that ends well" attitude, but you can't take that for granted. These games are split out of a need to raise a certain amount of money which is not guaranteed. That's why a lot of episodic series are never completed.

I bought Spacebase not really that interested in the alphas. I figured I'd play it more when it was finished or closer to it. But that won't happen now. People have every reason to be skeptical of incomplete games, be they episodic or early access. So all's well that ends well, but don't count on it.

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I'm saying that they have completely twisted what it means to run a business. If you read my previous posts, you would understand that. You’re not supposed to “make money, or even break even” on an unreleased, unfinished game. You invest money in what hopefully will be a good game, release it, and then make the money back and hopefully more. DF is not supposed to make money until AFTER they have already invested a lot of money and time into a GOOD and FINISHED product.

So by selling a game that they are no longer willing to finish because they're not "breaking even" on a game they haven't even released yet (that logic sounds crazier every time I write it) -- in a way, yes, they are stealing money from those that bought into early access. I don't think they're sitting on it. I believe they spent it on development. But they wrongfully took money to try out this "experiment" that they should probably refund. The idea that they shouldn't lose/invest money on a game until it's released is so silly, counter-intuitive, and just plain backwards that it's insanity this is used as the excuse.

Just a disclaimer, I do not own Spacebase.

Here I think is the heart of the issue. Some folks like myself always viewed Kickstarter and Early Access as a kind of speculative experiment where you take a gamble on helping to fund a game and whatever you get is what you get. Obviously a lot of other folks like Nerdy Suit took a very different view, feeling that Early Access was more of a way for the developer to recoup some costs, but not as a sole funding source. I don't think anyone is 'right' about this because the model has been used differently by different developers. I mean hell, Hack N' Slash did exactly the thing Nerdy Suit expected that Spacebase was doing.

My question is, how was DoubleFine supposed to know what people were expecting? Nerdy Suit later talks about what the perception is and what the 'right' thing to do is. I'm pretty confused about all this. I know there wasn't some flashing banner at the top of the Spacebase page saying 'we'll only keep developing as long as we hit out sales numbers.' Clearly DoubleFine didn't think they needed that banner because of the comments they made about nothing being promised and the Early Access FAQ and all the stuff KestrelPi has pointed out. So, I hear you Nerdy Suit about having to manage your social capital and perceptions, but it seems like you're implying that DoubleFine knew that most players shared your expectations and actually I think quite the opposite is true. I think they felt that most people's perception was closer to mine that this was a speculative pay-as-you-go sort of deal. Clearly they were wrong and now that this has happened we all know, but I'm really unsure how they could've known beforehand. Sure, they could've asked, but if you don't already know that you NEED to ask then you probably wouldn't bother doing it.

Nerdy Suit, let me just try and explain why a developer would attempt these other funding models. What you're talking about where someone invests a lot of money into a game and then attempts to recoup those costs through finished sales in just the traditional game development model. Whether that money comes from a publisher or a private investor or from the company itself it's all invest now for profits later. The problem for Doublefine is that they're relatively small and their games aren't huge commercial hits. Usually they make back their development costs plus a little extra years down the road, but that's about it. So, they don't have a million dollars sitting in the bank account to invest in development, especially because as an indie studio you have to be working on multiple projects to mitigate risk and ensure constant revenue streams post-release. Getting a major publishing deal for a game like Spacebase seems basically impossible. It's never going to make enough money to attract the attention of EA or Activision or Ubisoft... etc. So that's where this new funding model comes from. Are they twisting what it means to run a game development business? Yea that's kinda the point because the old way wasn't working for them. The studio was constantly in financial trouble AND they had to give up the IP to all their games. This was an attempt to mitigate the risks of game development and if it weren't for the serious consumer backlash, it actually worked! If DoubleFine had spent only their own money on this game and waited longer to release it, it seems like they would've lost even more money. I just want you to appreciate, Nerdy Suit, that on the model you're advocating, Double Fine either never would've been able to make their several most recent games at all, and if they had done it by pouring all of their available cash into the games, they'd probably be bankrupt.

I also do not own SB. I also rarely ever come onto any forums because I spend ridiculous amounts of time discussing stuff like this when I should be working. I've only come on these forums because I've been completely floored and disappointed with the actions of my favorite developer (DF) and favorite person in games (Tim).

Instead of me responding directly to what you wrote, here's the truth...it doesn't matter what I think...it doesn't matter what you think...and it definitely doesn't matter what DF thinks. The ONLY thing that matters is what does the public at large think. That's why those terms social perception, social capital, etc., are so important and come into play. So we can debate what early access is and isn't, what DF knew and didn't know, etc., until the ends of time. But here's the ONLY thing that should matter to DF: 1) Many fans on these forums (all of whom I'd have to imagine are hardcore DF fans) are upset with DF; 2) The internet as a whole seems to be overwhelmingly upset with DF about SB, and...MOST IMPORTANT...3) The customers directly involved with this debacle...those paying customers of SB...have left hundreds and hundreds of severely negative reviews of SB.

So frankly, I don't care about any woulda, coulda, shouldas from DF. The fact is, the only ones who have a relevant opinion on this issue -- the paying SB customer base -- have made it pretty loud and clear their distrust of DF after this debacle. And even now, from the DF statements I've read, it seems that all DF is doing is making excuses. I mean, do they REALLY realize how much this has hurt their reputation and trust level with even their most hardcore fans (like me)? I would think and hope the reviews of SB on Steam would embarrass everyone at DF.

As Steve Young once said, "Perception is reality. If you're perceived to be something, you might as well be it, because that's the truth in people's minds."

As for me, I still love DF. I still love Tim. They make amazingly creative, original, unique, and fun game experiences. But as for me and my money, I'll wait till they actually release full versions of their games from here on out.

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With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

You could get BA (the full game) for $15 during the Kickstarter; and that included access to the beta, access to the 2PP documentary, access to the private backer forum. So if you'd sell BA Act 1 now for $15 or $20, and raise its price to $25 once Act 2 is out, no backer should have felt betrayed by anything.

As for "making its numbers": it is hitting the absolut minimum, the pessimistic estimate. It is by no means hitting the numbers that DF hoped for: You could see the disappointment in the doc. It really looks like Adventure Games are dead.

BTW, is there a way to see how many times a game is on Steam Wishlists? (Like, "1.234 people have this on their wish list"?)

As the game still isn't released, I don't understand how you can make those assumptions.

I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

If I hadn't backed DF at kickstarter I wouldn't have bought Broken Age yet as the game isn't complete. I think, and know, that a lot of other people acts and thinks the same on the subject.

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you. There are a few exceptions where it worked ok (Telltale), but even then, I never bought anything before all episodes were out.

Seems like you understand making assumptions quite well.

I think it's quite different drawing the conclusion that adventure games are dead based on the lack of sales of part 1 of Broken Age (incomplete as sold atm, you buy into promises), to me telling my own and friends view of episodic games and our dislike of them, both in word and action (no buy policy until all episodes are out).

As I'm not a native english speaker, maybe I'm missing some nuances of what you're implying?

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I think it's quite different drawing the conclusion that adventure games are dead based on the lack of sales of part 1 of Broken Age (incomplete as sold atm, you buy into promises), to me telling my own and friends view of episodic games and our dislike of them, both in word and action (no buy policy until all episodes are out).

You do realize that I refer to the now famous "adventure games are not dead!" line of the BA Kickstarter video, right? That was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, sorry if I came across thinking that adventure games are actually dead! Then again, I do live in Germany, so... ;-)

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From a broader perspective, it's much more complicated. They now have a new engine, they have the rights to Broken Age, they had enough publicity to fund more of AF 2012 and AF 2014 than they would have otherwise, and the company has gotten into other crowdfunded projects which were influenced by Broken Age. A lot more people know about them, for better or worse (I hope and think better). I would guess that they came out ahead if you take the broad and long view.

Yes, this is a good point which I didn't bring up. There are a lot of intangibles here. At some point or other they would probably have had to build tools for 2D development, and Broken Age got them that, and Massive Chalice kickstarter was made possible in a big way because of it, so if Massive Chalice makes a profit then that's at least partly thanks to their earlier kickstarter success, and any success of future 2HB projects have BA partially to thank, and so forth.

So I think the experience will overall be a net positive for the company even if the bottom line figure is somewhere beneath their personal investment. So there are many ways in which this case seems very different to DF-9 to me.

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I'm an adventure game fanatic and has never bought an episodic game before all episodes are out, besides where I was forced into it because of changes in their respective kickstarters.

...

As Dreamfall Chapters is another kickstarter adventure which changed into an episodic game after the campaign ended, I wish them luck, they'll need it. If I'd known beforehand, I would never have backed it. Same with Broken Age and perhaps Broken Sword 5. Episodic games, no thank you.

Why not back these Kickstarters? I mean, I didn't expect episodes, and I didn't play BS5 until both episodes came out, but it wasn't really different as a game than BS2 which I played before it (except it was better and felt less broken into parts). Haven't played Broken Age yet, I'll play it when it's completely out.

That's an "all's well that ends well" attitude, but you can't take that for granted. These games are split out of a need to raise a certain amount of money which is not guaranteed. That's why a lot of episodic series are never completed.

I bought Spacebase not really that interested in the alphas. I figured I'd play it more when it was finished or closer to it. But that won't happen now. People have every reason to be skeptical of incomplete games, be they episodic or early access. So all's well that ends well, but don't count on it.

The risk, as far as Broken Age is concerned, was always overstated by detractors - we know that for sure now. At the time I said I doubt they'd make the decision unless they had ran some numbers and were confident they would work, and that seems borne out by what actually happened.

We know the game didn't hit its higher estimates, it just hit its middle of the road estimates. Even with those estimates, it sold enough to fund Act 2 in only a month. From that we might gather that even if it had sold half as much (i.e. very, very low estimates), it would have funded Act 2 in a couple of months.

They very likely did these kinds of projections when making the decision to split up the game.

But yes, there are different episodic models, and some are riskier than others.

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I am not ok with this explanation.

Backed 'Broken Age' for quite some money and got what I expected, also knew I took a chance.

Buying the game on Steam with Early Access does not involve any risk. At least, there shouldn't be

or it should not have been called early access at all. Maybe Steam should do a kickstarter alike something,

but at least I'd know there is a risk involved.

I sincerely want my money back for an unfinished game. Just slapping 1.0 on it, isn't that. It is really that simple.

I also sincerely doubt I will get a refund. And that's the sad part; a broken deal. The Double Fine reputation took a hit personally

for me by just doing what it is doing right now and expecting for people who paid to just understand this.

It's bull s h i t.

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It's a shame that money from Indie Fund and some outside investors was given back two weeks in, was it even useful to take it just to give it right back?

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It's a shame that money from Indie Fund and some outside investors was given back two weeks in, was it even useful to take it just to give it right back?
Without the initial investment, the game wouldn't have been made at all.

And as for paying it back... that's simple business. You don't invest money in something if you're not going to get a return on it. A similar analogy would be Kickstarter. you CAN just give money to a project, but 99% of people will want a 'reward' for that money.

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It's a shame that money from Indie Fund and some outside investors was given back two weeks in, was it even useful?

As I understand it, the Indie Fund money would have been what paid for the initial development of the game that enabled the initial early access release. Then sales of Early Access would have recouped that initial investment. The indie fund model is a little different to normal publisher model, it works like this:

"Once the game is released, you first pay back the investment and then share 25%of the revenue, until we double the initial investment, or until 2 years after the initial launch date, whichever comes first."

So, for the first 400k went back into Indie Fund, and then from that point they were paying Indie fund a 25% royalty on sales.

Basically, they forfeit an amount of their earnings for the game, but in return they get the initial investment they need to actually make the game. So the 400k got paid back in 2 weeks, and we can imagine that after that point sales started to slow down. Going by the numbers, it's likely that they slowed down enough that they indie fund didn't actually double its investment yet. But they will have made a profit from this title, which will go towards funding more games. So there's that! This was probably considered a very safe investment, by Indie Fund, even with everything that happened afterwards.

25% is quite a big extra commitment for an Alpha funded game, but if they had hit anywhere close to the targets they had in mind then it would have been quite a temporary situation.

Really rough ballpark, to recoup the 400k they needed to sell I'm estimating about 25-30k copies once you take off Steam cut and taxes etc. Then after that they would have shared 25% of earnings with Indie Fund which would have taken about 100k-120k sold copies, and then that obligation would have ended. (A few more, if you factor in discounts). These aren't stratospheric numbers, they're numbers that you'd expect an indie game by a well-known company that was pretty successful could make.

Whatever the reasons, and whatever the blame, once it's understood that the game didn't just undersell, it flopped, it's easier to see how the reality is so out of line with what they were hoping for.

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"Once the game is released, you first pay back the investment and then share 25%of the revenue, until we double the initial investment, or until 2 years after the initial launch date, whichever comes first."

So, for the first 400k went back into Indie Fund, and then from that point they were paying Indie fund a 25% royalty on sales.

Did I miss anything? Afaik this game is still being developed and will only be released in the near future.

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"Once the game is released, you first pay back the investment and then share 25%of the revenue, until we double the initial investment, or until 2 years after the initial launch date, whichever comes first."

So, for the first 400k went back into Indie Fund, and then from that point they were paying Indie fund a 25% royalty on sales.

Did I miss anything? Afaik this game is still being developed and will only be released in the near future.

An early access release is still a release and the sales are still sales, and so any investor would expect to recoup their investment from these sales.

Even a favourable investor like Indie Fund would be crazy to agree to a model where they're not allowed to recoup their investment from the early-adopter purchasers, but only from the second wave of purchasers that come along later in the final release.

It's true that DF would have been able to keep more money if this had been the model, but it's also a model that no investor except maybe the oddest sort of angel investor would agree to.

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This should not be considered an adequate response. I understand that the game was not making as much (in early access) as expected, but the answer should not be taking the money and running. This is an admission that the original promise is not being kept. Perhaps if there was a focus on development when a proper release was made, sales might have picked up then? Is Double Fine's new model to ALWAYS profit or else customers are left holding the bag? This will dramatically effect how I view any product from Double Fine and now I understand Tim's viewpoint that any game is eligible for cancellation if the community does not invest enough prior to finishing. I invested in Spacebase back in Alpha 3 because I trusted Double Fine not to do exactly this.

Did you not read what he said? There was no money to take and run with. They put money back into it when sales didn't cover it, which means they LOST money, not profited.

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Early Access is NOT A FUNDING MODEL. If DF wanted to use it that way, at least be up front about it. Until then, Early Access is just what it says it is.

You get early access to a FULL GAME (to be finished). There was no such thing happening at all and only DF knew that. No one else.

It's ridiculous that investors get their money back, yet true gamers ponying up money get screwed here.

Getting a bit riled up by bullshit model talk. Back to basics guys.

People paid for a full game with early access. Early access happened, full game hasn't. Slapping 1.0 on a game isn't a full game.

Such a big big big big let down from a company with such a pedigree.

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Early Access is NOT A FUNDING MODEL. If DF wanted to use it that way, at least be up front about it. Until then, Early Access is just what it says it is.

You get early access to a FULL GAME (to be finished). There was no such thing happening at all and only DF knew that. No one else.

It's ridiculous that investors get their money back, yet true gamers ponying up money get screwed here.

Getting a bit riled up by bullshit model talk. Back to basics guys.

People paid for a full game with early access. Early access happened, full game hasn't. Slapping 1.0 on a game isn't a full game.

Such a big big big big let down from a company with such a pedigree.

I don't get why people is complaining. Sounds like a very logical and addecuate response to a given situation.

are you even for real?

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