Obsidian: Publishers Are Trying to Abuse Kickstarter

Publishers are attempting to get developers to create covert Kickstarter campaigns, in order to fund games the publisher would otherwise have to invest in itself, according to accusations from developer Obsidian Entertainment.

On the page for its Kickstarter campaign, Project Eternity, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart said that the developer was contacted by publishers in an attempt to get Obsidian to create campaigns to fund development projects. The idea is that Obsidian would drum up fan support to get people to pledge money for the game — which would then be published by the unnamed companies in question, just like any other game development. Except that the publisher wouldn’t have to put up nearly as much money, because it had collected it from the fans.

Urquhart even said that Obsidian wouldn’t get to keep the ownership rights to the intellectual property under the deal one or more publishers suggested.

“I said to them ‘So, you want us to do a Kickstarter for, using our name, we then get the Kickstarter money to make the game, you then publish the game, but we then don’t get to keep the brand we make and we only get a portion of the profits’ They said, ‘Yes’.”

While that sounds incredibly slimy, since Kickstarter runs on donor goodwill and on the assumption that creative types can’t get their stuff made using the usual machinery of publishing — Urquhart went on to say that he didn’t think the publishers were necessarily trying to take advantage of Obsidian and its IP rights.

“I think they were trying, honestly, to be able to do something with us and they felt that was the easiest way to do it,” he said. “They would then not need to go get budget approved and deal with the challenge of that. What I don’t think they did was to think about our side of it and what they were really asking.”

But that’s to say nothing of the advantage that situation would take of players who think they’re helping developers make cool things they could never make otherwise.

Via Develop.

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4 Comments on Obsidian: Publishers Are Trying to Abuse Kickstarter


On September 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm

So then, I’m guessing, once published customers would have to pay full retail for this project they themselves funded.

Yeah, not acceptable. This just sounds like a money scheme by “unnamed publishers” and nothing more.

Corporate meeting: “Hey guys, lets use this awesome tool, Kickstarter, to have the consumers pay to create something, then charge them for it as well, taking away 99.9% of our financial responsibility while keeping the majority of the sales profits for ourselves!!!” $$$ eyes abound.

Cool story, bro. That’s why, though I was excited to hear about obsidian doing its own project without publisher overhead, i was quite leery of something exactly like this.


On September 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Please let me know who the publishers are so I can never buy their products ever again. This is straight lying to customers and an obvious abuse of trust. I WILL NOT buy from people who do that. Note: I am a backer of Obsidian’s Project Eternity. I’d pull my funding if Obsidian had agreed to this scam.


On September 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Who wants to bet the publisher is either EA or Activision?


On September 21, 2012 at 12:04 am

This should surprise nobody. The publishers have failed both the developers and consumers in every possible way. Their starting to realize just how close to irrelevance they really are. Frankly, I want to see some of these awesome old-school Kickstarter efforts do so well that they form a “cooperative” publishing venture. There’s really no business “competition” between developers, even among those who deliver the same types of experience. Gamers will buy what they love, and most fans of a particular gaming genre will snap up every good title of that kind. For example, I know very few Bethesda fans who haven’t enjoyed a Mass Effect or other RPG title in recent years. Likewise most CoD players probably hit the BF3 servers every now and then. The only limits on what games you can enjoy depend on the platforms you own..and if you own a decent PC, there’s very little you can’t enjoy :) We have a real shot at a new gaming renaissance and to show the world that great entertainment doesn’t have to be a soulless product of the corporate grist mill. We just have to be very careful of the scammers, hustlers and money-grubbers that are sure to try and twist Kickstarter to their own ends.