> If agreement is terminated due to missing milestones or due to a decision by Developer to cease development of game indefinitely, Developer must repay all amounts paid by the Publisher
Is this normal? I'm not sure if this is a healthy relationship, seems like the publisher takes no risk at all for the development of the game like this, they just take the risk of the game not selling when it releases. And they could affect that as well, by pushing for more aggressive milestones at the end of development if they think the game wont sell enough until the developer either fails to deliver or it is good enough. Seems like these type of contracts would result in a lot of overtime crunching.
Relationship building in games is very hard, there is a lot of distrust. Milestones can be very hard to pin down as a task being complete is very subjective (when are player controls done? when implemented or when they feel good? what does feel good mean?). You can meet every milestone and deliver a game that isn't fun, you can miss every milestone and deliver a best selling game.
At it's core the industry is trying to use the Hollywood movie model for financing, designing and developing games. It's not working, they are far less linear, far more interactive and significantly less well known as an art form.
There are no (or few) unique problems in videogames but they do tend to be in the extreme compared to the other arts and engineering problems.
This seems perverse. Game development seems to require a high amount of skill and creativity in terms of design, art and development. But whenever I read articles or hear talks about the business of things it seems like there is a huge disconnect between requirements and the compensation. And not only that but the economical impact of games is rather large. It seems like big publishers are doing very well.
Another (very general) field where this is the case is STEM research. Even though I would guess that you generally earn more and have more financial security, the discrepancy between skill, impact and compensation is even larger. I know it is an extreme example but it showcases a complex problem and other fields can partially relate.
Examples like these at least seem to falsify the notion that the market rewards skill and impact in general. It specifically rewards market and business skills. We as craftsmen often laugh at stuff like the Dilbert comics but there is a truth behind it: The ones that have the most actual leverage, skilled workers and problem solvers, seem to be controlled by people who focus on negotiation and even bullying.
Should the lesson here be that everyone needs to be a negotiator? Should we teach/learn this in school? Are we playing the game of capitalism wrong or is it actually rigged? I honestly don't know, but I personally feel that it all looks imbalanced and even phony.
If you don't believe me, the Kickstarter craze a few years ago exposed all of this to the consumer. Many games were hyped well and got huge funding but were released to mediocre-to-bad reviews and much backer regret, to say nothing of the ones which fell apart completely during development and were never successfully released.
Sadly, it boils down to oversupply and people putting up with it due to passion. "Too many" people want to work in (non-mobile) video games, people fight over vacancy, and publishers can keep the pay low and employees overworked as their passion fuels them. Then burnout happens, some leave, and the cycle continues. I don't have a proper source so take this with a grain of salt, but I heard it pays more to work in IT than in game development, in the same region. (Same experience level)
Hollywood actors are part of a union (SAG). Do you think that Tom Cruise got paid the same as an extra that was also in the SAG for the last Mission Impossible?
That explains so much of the bizarre anti-union sentiment on HN.
AFAIK, only Netflix uses non-union labor on shows...and even they have entered into negotiations with multiple unions.