Journey cost “multiple millions of dollars”, no royalties for a year

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 02:44 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Thatgamecompany founder Jenova Chen has clarified earlier comments about not receiving royalties from Sony on Journey, the fastest-selling PlayStation Network game to date.

In an interview with Joystiq, Chen said the independent developer wasn’t counting on making money from Journey straight away, even though he believes it has broken even.

“When the game makes money, the money first goes back to pay back the money they’ve invested. So, that’s going to take a while – Journey cost multiple millions of dollars to make. Once that money is recouped, then we will get royalties,” he said.

“But for almost a year, we are not going to be relying on the money from Journey to keep the company going.”

As Journey wrapped up, completing a three-game deal with Sony, thatgamecompany had to find another source of funding so it could work on a new project and wait for its royalties. It pitched a new title to venture capitalist firms, eventually securing $5.6 million from Benchmark Company in northern summer 2012 – just after Journey’s launch, but too late to retain many staff who left when the indie went bankrupt.

“We were at a spot where, if we couldn’t figure out the next game, or find the next deal, then at the end of Journey we’d run out of money,” Chen said.

Being funded by a venture capitalist group rather thna a publisher isn’t much of a change, Chen added.

“When we switched to a venture capital, we raised the money because we pitched the project; we sold them on the vision. They believe it, they want to support us to make that happen. So, creatively I’ve never gotten any input from the venture capital. It’s actually very similar, we are always ourselves, and no one is really messing around with us. With Sony, it was the same thing,” he said.

Thatgamecompany hasn’t announced its next project yet, but it’s expected to use touch controls.