At a time when studio autonomy is constantly at odds with the need to secure contracts, one developer says indies should make a stand.
Christofer Sundberg, CEO of doggedly independent Avalanche Studios, says that studios are immediately putting themselves at risk by selling their IP to big publishers.
“[Retaining IP] is the only way an independent developer can increase the worth of the company,” he said in an interview with Develop.
“Staff and technology has some value, but this comes and goes,” he added.
“The best way to keep your own independent studio valuable is to keep your own ideas and your own IP, because it gives you have more creative freedom. There are just so many things that are just so much easier and more fun if you keep your IP.”
Sundberg’s comments come shortly after Chris Taylor, of longstanding indie studio Gas Powered Games, said that the development industry’s independence had dwindled in the past 15 years. In reality, said Taylor, some independent studios are essentially outsourcing hubs for publishers.
Interestingly, Sundberg was in agreement with this, but said the trend was “generally an American thing”.
Asked to elaborate, he said: “American developers tend to sell their companies way too early, and then they whine about not getting enough money when their projects become successful. After a couple of years of being owned by a big publisher, [they are] not really in control.”
He added that there are of course some success stories when it comes to studio acquisitions.
“But many developers look at this and always see the dollars and not the significance of actually being owned by someone else. Being acquired means that, ultimately, you’re not in control of your destiny, or your daily work.”