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Lorne Lanning on the return of  Oddworld  - and the mid-tier indie
Lorne Lanning on the return of Oddworld - and the mid-tier indie
July 8, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

July 8, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
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More: Console/PC, Indie, Production, Business/Marketing



"With self-publishing Iíve sold more copies of Strangerís Wrath than the publisher did originally."
- Oddworld Inhabitants' Lorne Lanning

The Oddworld franchise was a staple of late 1990s and early 2000s, but the series -- and its developer -- flamed out with the disastrous release of Stranger's Wrath for the original Xbox.

Lorne Lanning, founder of Oddworld Inhabitants, argued at the time that EA wouldn't promote it -- a claim he echoes in his new interview with UK newspaper Metro.

In the article, Lanning dishes a lot of dirt about how publishers manhandle developers, but more salient is his discussion of how he was able to bring his company back with sales of catalog titles -- a process kick-started in 2010 when Stranger's Wrath was ported to current platforms.

Lanning's next game project is Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty!, a remake of 1997's Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, due on the PlayStation 4 later this month (with other platforms to follow.) It'll sell for $30 on release.

There's a confluence of events that makes this possible: digital distribution, self-funding, self-publishing, and the blockbusterization of triple-A games. The means and opportunity for success are there, Lanning argues.

If Lanning's quote above -- and his new approach -- are familiar, that's because they bear a striking resemblance to Double Fine's story -- its rebirth as a fully independent studio, and the success it's found selling its overlooked-at-the-time Xbox/PlayStation 2 classic Psychonauts digitally.

Lanning thinks that the mid-tier is on the rise because it offers players an alternative to small-scale indie projects in scope, while also offering an alternative to triple-A games (which he describes as "really big high dollar value titles that new gamers are not that interested in because theyíre basically just shooters") in style and content.

He analogizes what's happening in games to the state of the film and music industries.

Mid-tier indies are relevant because "in film the best picture every year, at the Academy Awards, is usually going to independent films; because they have richer stories, because they didnít have a $200 million marketing budget that said you need to be a shitty movie like Transformers or Godzilla," Lanning points out.

Mid-tier studios will be able to survive -- and even grow, cautiously -- on a game-by-game basis, Lanning argues, which he analogizes to bands that can sell enough of their music to a dedicated fan-base to survive.

If that happens, he says, "Weíre still in business and we can fund another game... Letís put it in a musicianís context. If youíre a musician making another album is more important to you than making millions and millions of dollars, right?"

You can read the original, lengthy interview at Metro's website.


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Comments


sean lindskog
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Awesome interview.

christopher tutor
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I was very proud of the game industry for being a media or entertainment that was enjoyable and had a pride behind every title, indy or AAA. No matter the budget of a game it was still made by people who loved to make games. This article made me realize that the industry is slipping into the grove of any other entertainment industry. There will be a thick line between the games that indy developers make and the games that huge companies put together based on what they think the largest amount of people will like and will make them the most money. It has already begun with a few of the ig name shooters. Like the one that they release every year!!! I guess its the nature of things but it bugs the hell out of me


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