In an extensive new interview published on Gamasutra today, Silicon Knights founder Denis Dyack has been arguing against the concept of film industry-style 'free agency' for game developers, suggesting: "You become a utility, and your value becomes diminished significantly."
The 'free agency' model has increasingly been espoused by game industry figures such as Daxter designer Michael John, who wrote an article for Gamasutra in March titled 'Free Agency: Opening Up the Game Developer Market'.
However, when discussing the model with Gamasutra, Dyack, who has been in the news recently for his company's lawsuit with Epic regarding Unreal Engine 3, suggests: "I guess if you look at my opinion -- and my understanding of the film industry -- the fact that everyone's contract and no one has a permanent job, that's not... some people do well in that. There's certainly some directors who became very successful. But I'd say the majority of the people in that industry do not like that model."
Dyack continued: "I think from the perspective of a business model, it would be great if you didn't have to carry staff and look after them, and if you could just bring people on when you needed them and let them go when you didn't. I think for the talent itself, though, that's a commoditization. You become a utility, and your value becomes diminished significantly. At Silicon Knights, we don't hire part-time people. We don't outsource. It's all to protect the talent, which we are. I look at these models in Hollywood, and I think it's kind of broken in many ways. There's a lot of people who are struggling."
However, the Eternal Darkness creator, whose company is currently working on Too Human for Microsoft, noted by way of conclusion: "I think Hollywood has some really good things about it. There's a lot of things to learn, but there's a lot of things that you want to avoid as well. That's one of them: the commoditization of talent. One of the ultimate commoditizations of a human being is slavery. You can get even further than that, and you don't want to go there. It's whatever we can do to watch out for that."
The full interview with Silicon Knights' Dyack is now available on Gamasutra, and includes detailed discussion about the big themes of game development, interactive story, and the executive's attitude to development crunch, among other subjects.