The caveman who discovered fire

[In which I discuss my doubts about going to E3]

I’m a caveman when it comes to publishing.

Today I learnt why I shouldn’t blush when spending ten of thousands of US$ when it comes to E3.

What happened was that I was checking our budget, and went slightly white at the expenses we were making for the announcement of project E.  Bluntly put, I was looking at numbers that made me think the company was hemorrhaging cash in an uncontrolled manner.

What frightened me the most was probably the sheer amount of transactions going on, and what they added up to.

Yep, it' that's time of the year again - Larian will show project E at E3 and it turns out setting up a booth there is an interesting financial adventure

You see, when you’re a developer, and you spend 10000KUS$ on something, you usually know what you pay for. More than likely when you make an expense, you debate if there is any way of doing it cheaper, and think sufficiently long and hard about it.

Not so much in the publishing world. In addition to your regular expenses, there’s a veritable shitload of little expenses that are made ad hoc, and when you add them up, they make for scary numbers. Especially if you didn’t plan for them, but find yourself confronted with them out of necessity.

It’s something I need to get used to it, or I’ll have serious cardiovascular problems by the time these games come out.

Anyway, here’s the story.

Some time ago, we decided that it’d be a good idea to have a small closed booth at E3 to show project E. When I say small, I mean really small, as in as small as it gets. Now the smallness is nothing to be ashamed of, as the floorplan indicates that a lot of our more famous colleagues decided on the same booth size, but … well, it’s still small.

For this smallness, we pay 12000US$, but we do get 4 chairs & a table for free !

That’s not all of course. We obviously also need to man the booth, and since we have two games to show plus out-of-booth meetings to attend, we need quite some staff, even if the booth is small.

Cost – approximately 8000US$ in planes, cars and housing (We’re flying in from Belgium)

Because we are showing two games, we figured it’d be a good idea to have a wall in the middle of the booth so that we actually have two booths for the price of 1. Yes sir, we are clever little devils at Larian !

Because we also want to make it a bit cosy, we figured that instead of the ugly grey these standard closed booths come in, it’d be cool if we’d have our walls in black with a red carpet, just to set us apart a bit.

Cost – 7607US$

Well, clearly we’re not going to pay that much black walls and a red carpet, so we figured we might as well bring our own paint and carpet.

Unfortunately, it turns out you can’t because only union workers are allowed to do anything on the show-floor, and I really mean anything. Needless to say that with such a monopoly, the prices of these workers aren’t exactly competitive.

So given that red and black are out, we thought we at least should have the dividing wall, or our clever little plan would fall apart.

Cost – 2752US$

I don’t know about you, but I thought that was too much for something as stupid as a dividing wall, hence the decision was made to scratch the wall and do something so infinitely clever and cunning that I can’t write about it here. (Spoiler: Essentially it boils down to stealing Crytek’s wall)

Anyway, as hardware is also required to show the games on, and because it turns out the price of renting hardware is as high as buying it, we figured we might as well buy the hardware and give it away to some friendly soul instead of filling somebody’s pockets, because flying it back to Belgium would probably add up to doubling the price. Perhaps we’ll even organize a giveaway contest on our facebook pages or on this blog ;)

Cost – 8000US$ (+whatever it’s going to cost to pay the union workers to carry the hardware in and out because you’re not allowed to carry stuff inside either, at least not if it can’t be done by one person without any assistance from a device – yes, it’s a good monopoly)

Now, the intention of going to E3 is to make sure people write about us, but obviously if we show the game to the magazines only at E3, they won’t write a lot about us because online press will  have released all the details already i.e. we won’t help selling magazines, and if we don’t help them, in generaly they don’t help us ;)

So we therefore decided that we were probably be better off inviting some of them to our offices ahead of E3 so they get to see the game, have time to write their article and publish it, just in time for the announcement.

Now, there’s a whole bunch of markets where the game will be in stores, and at minimum we want coverage in at least 1 magazine per territory. As we’re the ones doing the inviting, that means we need to buy them a ticket, house them and feed them, or otherwise they won’t come.

Cost – 10000US$

But when the journalists come, we’ll probably have to give them something to remember us by. That seems to be the norm. So cost …

I guess I can stop now because I you probably get the general idea – just covering the basics got me to 45KUS$, and that’s not counting the unforeseens.

To some in this industry, that’s peanuts, to others, that could be a significant portion of their development budget. To us, as developers, it represents money we could spend on getting an extra programmer or artist to help out with our overfull schedules.

So the natural question is – is it really necessary ?

Because I’m the caveman, and couldn’t figure out the answer, I called our publishing guru, Sergei and asked him to explain to me again why we’re spending 45KUS$ on E3.

Without a hitch, he started lecturing me:

Look, I just talked to a good friend of ours who is publishing a game of a good friend of ours which is being published now, and he just sent 560 copies to journalists, in Germany alone.

When we go to E3, we get in touch with hundreds of journalists that we don’t know and who we otherwise wouldn’t reach. Call them unidentified PR if you want.

Every day we’ll have back to back meetings with up to 6 journalists per session. Perhaps they are not from the most important magazines in the world, but it’s the only chance we have of showing them our game and telling them what our vision is.

We did the same thing at Gamescom. We showed the same presentation of the game to anybody who cared to stop by, and we didn’t even ask them from which publication they were, because we just want to get the word out. Remember how pleasantly surprised we were when it turned out that that young guy was in fact an incredibly influential writer ?

At which point I said I got the message (he has a tendency to rant) and ended the conversation. He’d given me what I need which is something that allowed me to quantify the investment. IF I divided the 45K by the number of journalists we were going to see, which at best will be something around 300 (2 meetings with 6 journalists thanks to Crytek’s wall for 30 minutes times 3 days), that gave me the nice round number of about 150US$/journalist.

Converted in euros, that’s not that bad. If what that journalist writes leads to at least 10 people buying the game, it’s even pretty good.

So I became a caveman who discovered fire.

  • http://twitter.com/FishieFlopOog Hasan Ali Almaci

    Yo Swen, we moeten dringend eens praten ivm FLEGA, heb u en enkele anderen er recent een mailtje over gestuurd. Meanwhile, ik wil gerust uw games de nodige exposure geven, heb je nog slots vrij op E3?

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Ik denk niet dat ik je mail heb zien paseren maar m’n mailbox is dan ook een puinhoop van niet beantwoorde mails. Probeer anders nog eens (of try press@larian.com ?) – dan kunnen we afspreken re: E3 & re:FLEGA.

  • http://twitter.com/FishieFlopOog Hasan Ali Almaci

    Oh BTW the Gamescom example you are giving, Thats CD Projekt Red and Witcher 2 enhanced edition right?

    • Anonymous

      An early preview of Dragon Commander (when it was using the DKS engine) was shown at Gamescom last year. It got a fair amount of positive reaction, including being named Strategy Informer’s Best in Show.

      Forum topic – Dragon Commander: First press coverage!
      http://www.larian.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=448616&an=

    • larian88

      No, that was at our booth, but I wouldn’t be surprised that they used the same approach. 

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      No, that was at our booth but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were using the same approach. We get along quite well with CD Projekt and think alike about a lot of things.  

      • http://twitter.com/FishieFlopOog Hasan Ali Almaci

        Last Gamescom the CD Projekt Red guys while being in a legal wrangle with Namco/Bandai about console publishing rights had people just walking the biz area floors looking for people with press attached to their badge holders. They invited everyone they could find like that to their private showings.

  • Illusive Man

    Beware : if fire spreads, you’ll also have to pay players for watching the game.
    Oops, too late : there’s this new hardware to get rid of.

    Something sounds strange : game journalists are not reliable but they’re still so much useful that you need to “invest” money for them ?!

    You’d better spare that cash for your personal expansion pack and post videos on YouTube…

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      I have nothing against games journalism – my problem is with how reviews are approached, how welcome a bit of professionalism & responsibility would be in this area, and how unreliable reviews are as a benchmark. You can’t escape the fact that not all games are rated by the same standards, and that’s unfair, but then again, where stands it written that life has to be fair ? 

      Other than that, our goal is to sell our games so we can continue making new ones so obviously we want to invest in getting some media attention, preferably in a cost effective manner ;)    

      • Illusive Man

        Maybe i’m like a caveman afraid by the fire, a.k.a. a potential customer already paying attention to your games which sees a lot of money not going directly in this games’ development.

        Have you ever invited journalists to your office who seems to like what they see when in front of you but finally wrote something negative about it ?
        Or are they always writing something positive ?

        If it’s always positive, it’s like a bribe : free fly to Gent, have a good time and thanks with a good preview. Then it’s really cost effective. Go bribe some more :D
        If not, it’s like a bet: good preview means cost effective, bad preview means you’ve get burned by the fire…

        • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

          the best way to approach PR policy is to be open-hearted with everyone and not to expect any specific result. my only problem with press coverage is when a non-specialist site ranks the game down just because they don’t dig the genre, e.g. some good adventure games or mixed genre games got burnt this way.

          • Illusive Man

             I guess there’s no win-win approach. Just try and see how it goes, even if life isn’t fair sometimes.
            Well, have a good time with all the journalists guys. And don’t forget those who already cares about you :D

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

            i hope we won’t forget anybody ;)

            it’s a big traveling circus, tickets and hotels and schedules.

            but i’m looking at my friends in the business (CDP, Amanita, Runic, etc.) and there’s not a single team that would succeed by not trying, or not talking ;) even Jakub @ Amanita was doing his emails form the forests of New Zealand when he had to come back to me :)

  • js

    I don’t see a problem with union workers! 

    They secured a market and make good profit of it. 

    I see good capitalism! 

    • Fax Arronax

      Not really. Good capitalism would mean that any alternative factor input willing and able to do the same work at a lower price is able to compete (i.e. Larian doing their own painting), ensuring production at minimum (marginal) cost, maximising combined producer and consumer surplus.  A union monopoly (notwithstanding other factors for which unions are genuinely net contributors to welfare) limits the overall surplus by reducing output by forcing consumers to pay the uncompetitive cost premium.  This closed shop system means union members benefit, but those outside the union who are willing to do the work at a lower price remain unemployed. There is a deadweight loss to society. See any Economics textbook.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

        Yes, surprisingly German Gamescom in Cologne was much more liberal in terms of what a studio could do , as an exhibitor, than American PAX or E3.

        • Maxim

          I believe the response of the fare company is a classic misinformation. The unions have nothing to do with setting prices of hardware / work done on a fare. It is entirely the decision of the company, that organizes a fare. That they decide to push the blame for the high prices onto a “union” makes for good PR, but I find it morally reprehensible. The workers (and a possible union) has a say on the labor price, that the fare company has to calculate with, but it will be a very small fraction of the prices charged.

          Fax: Price is not everything. The economics textbooks of today are outdated, because they do not take into effect system dynamics. Modern economy has several major forward feedback loops out of control.

          Since we are on Larian´s website, just imagine you play Divine Divinity. You start out small and weak, with hardly any skills. Then you start to accumulate power and money (in biophysical economics, we would talk about energy and structure, in a game it is stats and loot).

          Imagine further, and here a good game would set itself apart from the current economic system, that the enemies always have a fixed strength (do not grow in power) and always give a fixed amount of XP (nonwithstanding player level). What will you get?

          Well, within a very short time, you have extreme growth of characterpower/monsterpower. The monsters have no chance at all. The game is broken, because once you have power or money, you are on a fixed track of getting more in the future, even dying won´t stop it, because of inheritance.

          Imagine that you would start a multiplayer game and someone already has a completely kitted out character, instagibbing all the new players right at the spawnpoint, collecting kills. That´s the way inheritance has worked in the ancient world, in the middle-ages and it´s how it works today.

          If you imagine the economy being a game, the rules are seriously broken at this point.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

            the experience of our friends from an indie team, last E3, were like this: you can’t bring a vacuum cleaner to clean up your booth, you have to pay $500/day and for this there’s a lady who stops by twice a day, for three minutes, to do a basic go-over.

            given the fact that $500 buys you a vacuum cleaner and there’s a lot of people at hand always who can clean on the hour, from your own team, it feels like a weird irrational scene from USSR, and not from the US of A… in Cologne, you can do whatever you want, on the comparison.

            i have the same thing about the drink ban, for example. if you want to drink Belgian beer at GC with your friends at the booth, bring it over and enjoy it. if you want to drink anything at E3, you have to buy it from the convention center. of course everyone smuggles… but it’s pretty ridiculous ;-)

          • Fax Arronax

            Interesting.  
             In the orthodox school, dynamics (of general equilibria) are analysed, but not in in the form of the thermodynamic hypothesis.   Having said that, thermoeconomics is a heterodox school I have very little knowledge on. I do admit that unions may only be a (small) part of a problem, or not a problem at all depending on context – however the original statement by ‘js’ was simply misinformed and I was making a correction.

            The question here is less about the effects of unions in general, which may be confounded once the ceteris paribus conditions are dropped as I think you are suggesting (although i am not sure about your analogy.  The concentration of industry and institutional power is covered quite well by orthodox economics – the pure competition scenario is merely a point of reference), but its application here, via a ‘closed shop’ type system.  - and while It is possible that the fayre uses the unions as an excuse, the fact that the fayre is in a position to do so is a reflection of the negotiation process with the unions who do not bargain for wages alone, but working conditions and, notably, barriers of entry.  The unions are not going to be averse to the fayre charging a premium using ‘the unions’ as an excuse, and will cooperate as long as the union members get a share of the (bigger) cut (if you wish to consider a Game-Theoretic analysis, consider a static complete information normal-form game.  Here, the fayre is unable to provide a believable threat if the unions choose not to cooperate, since ex-post [given the 'closed shop'-type scheme exists, by revealed preference] the benefits of using the ‘union excuse for the closed-shop’ outweigh the costs of paying the union whatever fee they are capable of bargaining, which depends on their union power).  In this sense both the unions and fayre are cooperating uncompetitively to raise prices above the socially efficient level.

            I wouldn’t dare comment on the moral implications, since that’s a normative judgement.

          • Fax Arronax

            Whoops, I should have written ‘dynamic, extensive form game’.  Obviously a static-normal form game would not have a threat component, since it is carried out simultaneously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

    Look, in a very simple way, going to E3 is like renting a car on a trip to a large American city. You get to do more, and to see more, than without one. My only concern is the location and the management. Back in Las Vegas, things were much easier; and in Atlanta, much worse. I’d love to see E3 in San Francisco or in Seattle or in Las Vegas. LA is pretty inconvenient, expensive way to meet your industry peers and press…

  • Artur Domingues

    Don’t worry LAR, the world IS changing and its acelerating by the month.
    There is more and more and more people who are going towards facebook, Tweeter, Youtube, User reviews and leaving the monopoly that is the video-game big magazine business of buying their way into the market.

    See kickstarter for example. A very very clear message is geting out into the true gamers that want to go back to the classical good games and go way from the million dollar industry of interactive movies.

    Yes, big games with big reviews with multi million dollar projects will still sell very well on consoles, but the market of indy and kickstarted and realy good games is starting to open up much better now. The world is creating much better ways to comunicate to fans all over the world in a much cheaper way. 

    I have more and more and more friends of my age (32 old) that are complaining that 99% of the games now are rubbish and would rather spend 100 dollars on a wasteland 2 than spending 10 dollars on a Mass effect3 or even diablo3. They rather spend 50 dollars for torchlight 2 than 10 dollars on diablo3 as a direct comparation.

    I am honestly alarmed (but in a way happy) on the speed that my generation of gamers are going back to quality over candy-eye, and quality is Larian trade mark.

    • Illusive Man

       This keen interest about Kickstarter is another fire spreading over the Internet.
      Double Fine lead the way with 6 numbers crowd funding, soon followed by inXile, but until their games are shipped we couldn’t know if they will really have an impact on the indie videogame industry.
      Until then, the other models must grow strong.
      Like Stardock and Larian self-publishing AAA games, or Almost Human and Amanita reaching gamers through digital distribution like STEAM and GOG.com, or Runic and Supergiant going cross-platform but still innovating.

      Maybe some years in the future, all indie dev will be as respected as CD Projekt and won’t have to struggle to make the games they want.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

        i agree that Kickstarter is enjoying more of a goodwill than the deserved reputation, until the first games ship. and if Wasteland 2 ships at the end of 2014… requiring another round of funding… the model may fold on itself, not completely – but significantly.

        i’m also amused by the fact that the products which get funded are the products that would have found a publisher/investor anyways, whereas the projects that lack positioning, definition… they don’t get the money neither from publishers, nor from players.

        would Double Fine have gone to the industry investors, or publishers, with a question of “$400K for a new game that we will support with a hell of promotion”, they would have gotten the money easily. because they are the legend, and they are superb pros.

        would Brian Fargo have gone to, say, TTWO with a business plan for Wasteland 2, saying that Obsidian is attached, and he’s going to bring back the original developers + support public campaign, he could have gotten not $3M but $13M for a cross-platform launch.

        same for Banner Saga. i’d publish it in Europe, it looks great, and it doesn’t seem to need any player support because they know they have a winner in their hands.

        as the Buddhist saying goes, if you have a torch – you can have another, if you don’t – you can’t. the studios that will b trusted by players are precisely the studios that are already trusted by the industry.

        • Fax Arronax

          In the case of Wasteland 2 I think the issue may have been that the developer insisted on maintaining a turn-based, stat-heavy 90s golden-era RPG style, which would have been a harder pitch – not necessarily because it would not have obtained enough sales to break even, but because there are far safer investment opportunities (in terms of financial returns) available.  If you recall from Brian Fargo’s interviews etc. he was pitching in person to publishers with Jason Anderson himself, who one would have thought would have been a big enough name to grab some attention.  Of course, we have no idea if Brian really would have been that keen to keep the 90s golden-era model had he obtained funding or if this was a major part of his original pitch to publishers.  
          There is also the moral-hazard perspective, since once a contract with the publisher is signed it isn’t clear that InXile would truly be able to produce ‘one hell of a promotion’ in the way it has been able to with Kickstarter (which is a commitment mechanism that induces strong private incentives).  Solving this requires very explicit and extensive stipulations in the contract, and there are better things to do than go through all the little details of a single case from a mediocre developer (in terms of its recent work, rather than Interplay’s history) with a low expected margin, when the publisher has the option of avoiding the whole mess and asking the developer to ‘modernise’ the franchise altogether (in the way Fallout 3 has been modernised) – in a way that Fargo might have found anathema.Personally I’m quite glad there are some hard-limits on that particular project, because it encourages an approach to (RPG) game development that emphasises certain dimensions that have been ignored in the recent past due to focus on the more tangible and measurable qualities such as graphics and cinematics.  But that’s as a RPG player, rather than a businessman.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

            I agree with the fact the pressure from the public is a great force at work on W2 project. Ironically, I wonder if Brian got the same comments he’s getting now from his backers from one of his publishers, what would have been his reaction in the latter case – perhaps he would have brushed off something which he is welcoming with open arms now that it’s coming from his audience that paid upfront? ;-)

          • Fax Arronax

            Hahaha – I was wondering that myself, viewing some of the opinions on the Wasteland 2 forums. I don’t suppose you could share with us what your advice would have been to Brian, in regards to  how to change/modernise W2?

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

            We’ve been talking with our friends about something similar, a re-make of Incubation (TBS from the German team of Blue Byte, quite revolutionary at that time), and once we got to the question of “do we want to take this on Kickstarter”, we could see the risks as well as advantages there: as a hardcore fan of the original game, i’d love to see just an updated version, less story, more missions; and of course Mac as well as PC. But as someone who did not play the original game years ago, I could perhaps want something else: the visual style will need to change completely from the dark PC graphics of the ’90s, the story will have to be re-done because the old one is not resonating even as a summary, etc. We ended up thinking that perhaps, raising money outside of the crowd-funding scene will actually leave us more freedom on what to do with the re-make, and how to present it to the general public. But that idea did not materialize (yet) so I don’t know what the choice would have been at the end, should we have gone through with the whole thing.

        • Haba

           None of the three examples you’ve mentioned would’ve gone through a traditional development process in a fashion that’d produced anything of value.

          I put in quite a bit of money in W2 simply due to the fact that they’ve adamantly promised that they’ll maintain the so called “old-school” approach to design. W2 with $13 cross platform launch would’ve gotten not a single penny from me.

          Naturally, smaller projects have harder time getting money, but I’d say even $30k can make a significant difference to indie studio that would otherwise be making the game on their spare time.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

            The Banner Saga is very much underway – and the materials published on Kickstarter to announce the project are impressive enough, and up to the standard, that would have been sufficient to sell the project to a publisher in Europe in under a month.

            A retail deal covering Germany, Poland and Russia would have brought the developer more than they were seeking through Kickstarter, without influencing their development process and without jeopardizing their main revenue sources.

            I’d think that this game making it to Kickstarter is really more about the publicity – they good excellent coverage – unless it’s due to the fact that the devs don’t have much experience dealing with European markets, retail specifically.

            I would also think that $100-300K would be easy to get form a private investor based on the same concepts. I’ve given more based on less material.

  • Guest

    Spend $45K on a hot model to put on the box art and it will sell itself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

      That’s been done – Gothic 1.

  • Ghost

    The gaming journalism lives by in dirty ways. And it’s unfortunate that you have to play their game to walk another step up in the ladder. But as the saying goes: if you can’t beat them, join them… then backstab them and loot their corpses for goodies :) Anyway, in the end it should pay off to invest in marketing in order to get the Larian name in the spotlight. This would introduce Larian’s games to more gamers, which would then be hooked to it and be more alert for future games without having the need to rely so much on magazines.Now for my offtopic rant, a small one:After reading so many good things at the rpgcodex about DKS, and even though I still have lots of games waiting to be played, I decided to buy it as a way to show my support to Larian.It arrived yesterday to my place, but I have to say I’m disappointed with the packaging… it’s as stripped down as it can get. Yes, I know it’s the inside that matters but when you buy some physical good, you (at least I do) expect something to get your hands around it.It would have been nice to have some 20-40 pages manual in it, with a bit of artwork and lore in the middle. But it would have been great if it had a similar packaging to The Witcher 1 Platinum edition (2 booklets making up a total of almost 200 pages, 1 dvd case with 2 dvds, and all of that put together in a nice “card sleeve case”), I wouldn’t mind paying an extra 5-10$ for that.Will you consider this for future games?

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Which language box was this ? If it’s the German, then that’s 100% our fault and I am still ashamed of it. We were at that point so tight that every single euro counted,  so we skimmed heavily on the cost of goods, for no good reason in hindsight. 

      • Ghost

        Hi Swen. Thanks for replying. I believe it’s the UK/euro version since I bought it from dvd.co.uk. The box has the following labels: “Focus Home Interactive” and “Mastertronic”, besides “Larian Studios”.

        BTW, and I don’t want to sound as a smart-ass saying this, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider getting a new logo for the company. I think Troika and Black Isle had some of the coolest logos, which besides the obvious text also have some minimal artwork, that makes it set apart from the publisher name due to the “creative” aspect of it.

        This may look like a minor issue, but in the long term it helps making the name more well known and building up a “brand” (buzzword, but hey, this thread is about marketing after all).
        mmm… now that I think of it, adapting that dragon&sword (in the Divinity II DKS cover title) to make a L for Larian wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

        • Anonymous

          Original English releases of DKS contained a printed manual; the Mastertronic re-release apparently does not (it is fully updated, though, and does not include any DRM).

          Larian has created new logos since DKS was released. You can see the main logo at the start of the topic below, with a similar design for educational games farther down.
          http://www.larian.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=450754&an=

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

        Ego Draconis in Russia came out in a nice box with an extra cover. FOV/DKS was looking less posh, I think due to the red-on-red cover design. I remember the discussions of adding every single element at a new cost, you want gloss – that’s +$0.10, you want emboss – that’s +$0.15, etc.

  • Ghost

    (I hope this second attempt retains formatting)

    The gaming journalism lives by in dirty ways. And it’s unfortunate that you have to play their game to walk another step up in the ladder. But as the saying goes: if you can’t beat them, join them… then backstab them and loot their corpses for goodies :)

    Anyway, in the end it should pay off to invest in marketing in order to get the Larian name in the spotlight. This would introduce Larian’s games to more gamers, which would then be hooked to it and be more alert for future games without having the need to rely so much on magazines.

    Now for my offtopic rant, a small one:

    After reading so many good things at the rpgcodex about DKS, and even though I still have lots of games waiting to be played, I decided to buy it as a way to show my support to Larian.

    It arrived yesterday to my place, but I have to say I’m disappointed with the packaging… it’s as stripped down as it can get. Yes, I know it’s the inside that matters but when you buy some physical good, you (at least I do) expect something to get your hands around it.

    It would have been nice to have some 20-40 pages manual in it, with a bit of artwork and lore in the middle. But it would have been great if it had a similar packaging to The Witcher 1 Platinum edition (2 booklets making up a total of almost 200 pages, 1 dvd case with 2 dvds, and all of that put together in a nice “card sleeve case”), I wouldn’t mind paying an extra 5-10$ for that.

    Will you consider this for future games?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Dragonseekers Sergei Klimov

      I have to stand in for Swen, who is now working overtime to meet the deadline we have for a little press-event here in Ghent ;-)

      The packaging is typically the decision of a local publisher, and very often the decision is made at the last minute. I’ve been numerous times in situations where I’d sign a game for release in Russia, thinking – these guys are great! I want to launch an awesome box!, – and then I’d switch to another project, only to see six months down the line a very basic box coming out because except for me, everybody else was thinking more about the costs and less about the end-user experience.

      But we’ve had some success stories, e.g. Machinarium came out in a great digipack with soundtrack on a separate CD, and Samorost 2, Amanita’s original adventure, we released with soundtrack, game and an art-cook to top it off. That made people happy. And I agree with you, that happy people generate more sales than cost-cutting.

      On the upcoming games (Project E and DC) Larian’s plan is to provide the “experience” with the boxes. I.e. make it so good that we are happy ourselves to hold it and to be proud of it. The local publishers that we go with, this time, share the idea, and so we’ll probably deliver the best boxes we’ve ever had for our games. Fingers crossed.