Brian_Fargo_Scaled

Brian Fargo – inXile Entertainment

Brian Fargo has done it all. He’s created his own games, designed classic titles, and run a publishing company – Interplay Productions. Now Brian is in a unique place. As the CEO of inXile Entertainment Brian has launched two very successful crowd-funding campaigns and is looking to divorce the company from publishing deals which he feels are often restrictive. Brian and I talk extensively about game publishing, his time as the CEO of Interplay, and the current state of inXile Entertainment.

 

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 1:49 – Brian talks about the positive energy at inXile today, how crowd-funding made it possible, and the long road the company took to get where it is now.
  • 4:56 – The benefits of crowd-funding vs. working with a publisher. Why Brian thinks trust is the missing element.
  • 7:17 – How to maximize creativity and minimize risk. How, as a financier, you can ask for certain business-critical features but still fundamentally trust the developer.
  • 9:50 – When it is and isn’t beneficial for a publisher to dictate creative choices in a game.
  • 12:00 – How developers can sometimes have little creative control over their own product. Why developers bear the reputation hit when the publisher fails them.
  • 14:52 – An example: How Obsidian takes a reputation hit when a shipped game has bugs. How little leverage developers have when negotiating development deals.
  • 16:45 – Brian describes the specifics of negotiating a deal with a publisher and just how difficult it can be for a studio to see returns from one of these contracts.
  • 18:51 – I ask Brian if, supposing he were running a publisher today, how the current industry climate might make him change his approach from the Interplay days.
  • 20:06 – How a developer’s creative freedom is crucial to fostering good ideas which ultimately results in a better game.
  • 22:55 – Brian and I discuss the dearth of independent AAA studios.
  • 24:43 – The publisher strategy of backing a studio into a corner to buy them at a low price.
  • 26:44 – Brian’s adjustment from game developer to business executive in charge of Interplay Productions.
  • 29:04 – Brian recounts the end of Interplay (its acquisition by Titus Software) in detail. How incredibly close it came to surviving to make more games, and the insane maneuvering he went through in an attempt to keep it together.
  • 36:36 – While it was stressful, Brian says being an executive was still fascinating and exciting. He shares more anecdotes about negotiating deals and explains just how strange and heated things can get.
  • 42:37 – How the technical process of development can be difficult to explain to publishers, and whether this lack of understanding creates friction.
  • 44:29 – Why publishers are not inherently bad. Brian believes the publishing process often has problems, but they can be addressed with changes in attitude.
  • 47:05 – The Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and what it meant to Brian on a personal level.
  • 49:12 – I ask Brian to reflect on what he may have done differently in his career and what he loves about the industry.
  • 51:04 – inXile’s plan for the future.
  • 53:25 – More publisher stories – The true stories that inspired the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter video.
  • 54:35 – “Fun is just a theory.” The importance of iteration and finding the fun.
  • 57:02 – Thank you and goodbye!

 

Rob is a software engineer and amateur game developer. He lives in Bellevue, Washington.

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1 comment

  1. Olivoist

    The career of Brian Fargo is incredibly diverse and in the end it feels like the business part of it took the best of him for a looong time. It is great that Kickstarter allows people like him to come back as close as possible to the actual development of games proper. Getting rid of the publishers that cut games and studios in half is perfect. Thanks for sharing.

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