Reply To: What Led to…?

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for Marc: You said you were around during the last days…Do you have
any idea what prompted Sierra’s move to using only external, third
party developers?

I can’t say exactly why, but a reasonable guess is that it’s sort of the difference between dating and marriage. With a third party dev, the publisher agrees to give the dev a set amount of money in exchange for a specified product, delivered at a specific date. If the dev is late, they don’t get any more money (valve worked fro free for a year before shipping HL). Generally speaking deals are set for a limited number of SKUs or titles. If it works out, you can do it again, or maybe get acquired or whatever. It’s fairly low-risk. The publisher isn’t paying overhead or salaries, they are just paying aflat fee for the product. the only risks are does the game get delivered, and does it sell well. The opposite is true of internal development where if you go over schedule and budget, you keep burning cash b/c i you don’t cancel the project, you have to keep feeding it. The burn rate on a project like QfG 5 was enormous, but you get to a point where it gets really hard to kill a project in crisis. So to answer the question, publishing is a lot better deal than developing most of the time.

Question for both of you: Why did Sierra make so many investments in the productivity area (Arion, Green Thumb, Pixellite..)?

good question. Ken?…..

you said that grabbing another developer probably wouldn’t have changed
the situation at Oakhurst..What if, let’s say, Sierra acquired iD,
closed down the iD studios, and moved the iD employees into the
Oakhurst headquarters, setting them up as another team at Oakhurst
which used the iD label…How would that have worked?

That is an interesting ,but highly unlikely scenario. For one, you end up loosing a lot of people when you try to relocate a studio, that and all the costs etc. When they moved the B5 and LoTR On-Line teams to Seattle they lost at least half the devs and spent god knows how much money moving us, paying off our housing , building new office space, etc. it was a huge investment (and they laid us all off 6 months later anyway! hahahaha). More than likely if they had been bought, they would have just been another of our far-flung dev studios.