Oddworld Inhabitants founder Lorne Lanning has suggested working in the traditional triple-A development space is a bit of a mug’s game thanks to worsening conditions, whereas indies have a chance to forge real relationships with fans.
Speaking with GamesIndustry, Lanning said he didn’t “want to be a slave to the big ships”.
“Every game dev that I know that’s still doing triple-A retail products is trying to figure out a way to get out of it. Those deals are just getting worse and worse, even though your expectation of the money is getting higher and higher,” he said.
“Labour’s getting more expensive and the rewards are getting smaller. So that’s why we decided to stop playing for a while until we could start getting our games up digitally, see if we could build our own business. It’s working, it’s funding new content.”
Lanning said he and his team have dropped “a couple of million” of their own “cold cash” on its recent endeavours, with the ambition of putting everything it earns in the bank to fund new projects – including new IP.
“It’d be nice to be getting paid again. That hasn’t been happening for me. It’s all going into the product,” he said.
Lanning said working with indies has a couple of advantages. First, indies believe that “quality is going to be their lifeline”, and secondly, they never have to answer to shareholders, which can result in games being shipped unfinished – like Battlefield 4, Lanning said, or even the first Oddworld game.
“When shareholders are more important than the customers, how long is your business really going to last?” Lanning asked.
“Trust is the most endangered commodity, it’s the rarest commodity today,” he pointed out, referring to the lack of trust consumers have in large businesses. Indie developers, he believes, are in a unique position to gain that customer trust, but it takes a leap of faith. It means being honest even when you don’t know that things are going to go your way.
“You’ve got to answer their questions in a sincere way, even if it’s not what they want to hear. You have to say ‘you know what? You’re right, we fuckedd up like this or we fuckedd up like that, but this is where we’re at, this is why we’re doing it, this is what we’re trying to achieve.”
Oddworld Inhabitants is currently working on Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, which is coming to Linux, Mac, PC, the PlayStation Network and Wii U and is described as “not a fucking HD remake” of the PSOne Classic.
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