My first thought after I heard “Dear Esther” had recouped its investment in the initial 6 hours after release was “so what? Bully for them”.
Not that I don’t wish the authors success – I do. I’m certainly not a fan of mods that turn retail mid development but that doesn’t mean I want them to fail. If there are enough potential buyers then that’s great.
I just got the feeling that somebody was almost rubbing our noses in the fact it was a success. Almost as if the feeling of “being cheated” was wrong. Just because a bunch of people bought it doesn’t mean I don’t feel cheated.
Now, I have not played the retail version and the extra content may justify the cost. I would be very intersted to see some sort of meta scores for both mod and retail versions by players who have finished both.
As somebody a bit older than 90% of my readers, it’s a little easier for me to think and work long term. What interests me more about this “mod-to-retail” phenomena is not the success of the first title but what happens next.
If you are a good modder or game maker then you won’t have just one good idea but many. What will they announce next and how will it be recieved?
They have more than likely burnt their bridges with the mod community. Not in a bad sense, but they couldn’t announce a mod and be trusted. Sure, the mod community makes up a significant proportion of the retail community – every modder buys games but not everybody who buys games mods.
By turning mod-to-retail, I don’t think it will be easy for them to go back to modding. I certainly wouldn’t support a mod in the same way I might have before.
I recognize my views might not match most players though. After the end of The Sopranos I vowed never to watch another TV show created by David Chase. The ending ruined the whole series for me. Yes, I’m an extreme, but I feel that my sentiments will be mirrored, albeit in weaker form, but others in the modding community.
Last year I discovered a way for end users to support the people who provide them with content. You might be thinking “buying the games” does that, and you’d be right, but who gets the thing started?
Why should fat cats sitting in offices reap the benefits?
I’m certainly not suggesting anything radical, it’s been going on for a while in gaming and in other areas but I propose that any mod that plans to go retail give the community the chance to be the financial backers and in addition not just get the game and any other fringe benefits, but actually make money too, same as the authors.
I would be prepared to put money into a fund that was used soley for the development of mods into retail games. That fund could be administered either by an industry expert or on an indiviual basis i.e. I mange my own money within the fund.
Luminesca was featured on this site last year and since then the total has crept up, but nothing worth noting. This game may not be that interesting for me and I am not suggesting that this game deserves more attention than any other, it just happens to be being made by a game designer I know that made a great mod.
Why couldn’t we create a fund that would allow one or two chosen modders the chance to turn their dream into reality?
And here is the kicker. I’ll support mods turned retail with all my heart under the following circumstances:
1. There is a proof of concept mod I can play. Not a mod that later turns retail. I want to know it’s aiming for retail from the beginning, otherwise I will feel cheated. Sure, most mods would love to go retail but let’s be honest 99% don’t deserve to be.
2. I get the opportunity to invest and reap the financial rewards that would normally go outside the community and into somebody else’s pocket. Just like running the site, any money I would earn would go back into making more retails conversions.
I have no doubt that some of you think I am naive and you could be right, but I like to think of it as helping the community that gives us players so much free content.
This is the way capitalism works but co-operatives do survive and in some cases flourish under the right circumstances. Why couldn’t we help our own AND help ourselves.
Desura or ModDB, as is so often the case due to their market reach, would be the prefect leader of a mod-community based funding project.
Will it happen? Probably not. Why? For the same reason that most things don’t happen within our communiry:
Apathy and pettiness.
Still, maybe I am being too negative and somebody, not me, will take up the cause and start the fund.
It would be difficult managing the money and making sure the cut of profits was fairly distributed, but perhaps that’s the easy part. Simple percentages etc.
Maybe the hard part would be selecting the mods or modders. But again, maybe a simple voting system would be enough. The fund adminsitrator carefully selects mods to vote on and the community selects.
The fund sets out strict guidlines for POC demos and ensures they are seen by as many players as possible. Two votes could take place; investors and players.
Of course, those applying for funding would need to be known within our community and some sort of checks carried out to ensure they don’t just take the money and run but all the issues are solvable.
Our gaming community must work together so we all benefit.
24th February 2012
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