Catching Up With Gearbox's Randy Pitchford
June 13, 2008 Page 5 of 10
Running an Independent Studio
It seems many independent studios end up getting gobbled up, and it's often said that an independent studio is one title away from closing.
RP: I probably would've agreed with that back at the beginning. In the beginning, we had one title, and we had to succeed there. And even succeeding there, we weren't sure that we were going to get our next title.
But today, I have an independent studio. I have a brand that's launched -- Brothers in Arms -- that's quite great. We're able to make money off of that. We're making more than we're spending, and we're creating new brands. Over time, we've been very frugal, and we've built a nest egg, so that we can be careful. We don't have to worry about any particular month.
You don't have to worry about churn so much? That's the problem. If contracts don't get signed at independent studios, they suddenly can't make payroll.
RP: My limiting factor is not money, and it is not opportunity. We have more opportunity than we can possibly take advantage of. Every publisher has been trying to lock us into certain things, because we do a good job.
We do a reasonably good job. I'm just saying that's the reality of the situation. A lot of folks want to come to us with work, and we've been able to be smart with our money. We have enough of it to spend. Our limiting factor is talent, so that's why we've been growing. We want the best game makers in the world to make the best games in the world.
Ubisoft/Gearbox Software's Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
I know there's all kinds of studios in different positions, and when you're trying to build credibility, and if you're spending more than you're making, it's very hard. It's very hard.
But if you think about some of the big guys... look at Epic. They're independent. I'm pretty sure they're in the spot... probably even a little bit better than us. They have revenue from their games.
They're not making as many games as we are, but they have so much revenue from this engine license business that they've got. I'm pretty sure they're not worried about being one game away from going out of business.
Oh, Epic, no. But there's a wide variety of studios out there.
RP: There's also a lot of reasons as to why studios get "gobbled up", as you say. For some, it's an exit strategy. Like, that's actually their goal, that they're trying to be purchased. Maybe it's because they have businessmen running the business, and they're not interested in their creative goals as much as they are in the fiscal outcome.
There's other reasons. Sometimes there's partnership advantages. Sometimes they sell to publishers so that they can focus less on hustling for work, or making the business decisions, and just focus on making whatever game is asked by their employers.
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