InXile Entertainment founder Brian Fargo has said that in this day and age, game developers need to not only have design sense, but business sense to go along with it as well.
Speaking with Gamasutra, Fargo, who also founded Interplay back in 1983, said that while he always wanted to make games, he was a business man at heart too.
“I never thought [game development] any other way. Before I was into games, I was always a business guy,” he said. “I was selling Amway as a kid, whatever. I just always thought about the numbers. It depends. If you’re going to be trying to run your own business in any way, shape, or form, then absolutely [you need to know business]. If you say, ‘You know what? I don’t want to deal with that business stuff. I just want to be an employee and focus on just the creative side,’ then not necessarily.
“But if you can negotiate a deal that gets you twice as much per unit, that one little action changes everything. You only have to sell half as many to make the same amount of money. Ultimately the game quality and the business economics come together at some point. So, yeah, in order to survive, you have to have some business acumen. And then there’s a lot of scenarios out there that you have to wade through to figure out what’s real and what has potential to make money.”
Fargo said there is always risk involved in business decisions, especially when a firm wants to “make stuff that people walking down the street are talking about”.
“We want to make our Avatar,” he said. “There’s a part of that that gets us charged up and excited to go to work in the morning, so I won’t deny that. But that said, the risk… I mean, the bigger risk, frankly, is on the publisher, right? I mean, these days, to put out a title, by the time they spend production, manufacturing, marketing, they’re between $80 million to $100 million. Huge risk. So, in this particular case, I’m on the development side now.
“As developers doing a triple-A game, the upside is you get your costs covered. There’s not a lot of money to be made as a developer getting straight-up advances. Publishers are not going to allow you to get rich off of just straight-up advances. You’re having to count on the recoup. On the upside, you have your downside covered.”
InXiles’s currently working on the action-RPG Hunted: The Demon’s Forge which is to be published by Bethesda and is slated for releases in April on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.