Part of the lure of Kickstarter for developers is that they're free from the demands of publishers, able to make whatever they want, however they want, for as long as they want, and own it all. Publishers, unsurprisingly, may want in on this crowd-funding lark. Obsidian Entertainment, now riding high on its own smash-hit Kickstarter Project Eternity, has said that several publishers had approached Obsidian to front a campaign then join up with them to publish it.
"We were actually contacted by some publishers over the last few months that wanted to use us to do a Kickstarter. I said to them 'So, you want us to do a Kickstarter for, using our name, we then get the Kickstarter money to make the game, you then publish the game, but we then don't get to keep the brand we make and we only get a portion of the profits.' They said, 'Yes'."
He later clarified that the idea was not quite as insidious or daft as it may first seem:
I think they were trying, honestly, to be able to do something with us and they felt that was the easiest way to do it. They would then not need to go get budget approved and deal with the challenge of that. What I don't think they did was to think about our side of it and what they were really asking.
Perhaps there is some merit to a hybrid model. Publishers are far better equipped to handle QA and localisation than most developers, and are tapped into retail. Even the mighty Valve distributes the retail versions of its games through EA Partners. Not to mention that, though publishers are supposedly evil shapeshifting lizards sent from the centre of the Earth to destroy fun, having someone external watch over a game to keep it on track can be invaluable.
Of course, publishers would need to realise that they were there to help the developer--not the other way around--and ease up on silly things like wanting to own the intellectual property.
Anyway, Obsidian. The Project Eternity campaign is still roaring away, hitting the $1.6 million stretch goal to fund a Mac edition and expand the campaign. Pledging at least $25 will get you a digital copy of the old-school RPG when it's finished.