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Gas Powered Games had several games canned last minute

Financially troubled developer Gas Powered Games apparently had the rug pulled out from under several nearly completed projects when publishers backed out at the last minute, leaving the company with nothing to show for its efforts.

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Gas Powered Games' sudden financial troubles, which resulted in the layoff of most of the team, may have been caused by the termination of several nearly-completed projects.

"There's multiple games that we got almost to the finish line on," studio head Chris Taylor said. "We got a phone call from the publisher and they said, 'We're terminating.' And we're like, 'Yeah but we're only a month away from beta!' And they're like, 'Yeah we're still terminating.'"

Speaking to Eurogamer, Taylor said the cancellations forced the developer to turn to Kickstarter for Wildman. And with initial response tepid at best, Taylor had to examine other options.

"GPG is in a very interesting situation, as we had enough money to get us through to the end of the campaign," Taylor said in a recent Reddit AMA. "What became obvious by day four is that the campaign was going so poorly there was no way it was going to happen."

Taylor has started hiring a few of the team back, now that the project has picked up a bit of momentum on Kickstarter, with slightly more than $300,000 of its $1.1 million goal with 24 days left. But he said they are aware of what will happen if the goal is not met. "They have a very clear picture of the risks and had the weekend to think clearly about what they wanted. Some people have chosen to move on, and those who stay know that the future is uncertain."

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  • reply
    January 22, 2013 2:30 PM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Gas Powered Games had several games canned last minute.

    Financially troubled developer Gas Powered Games apparently had the rug pulled out from under several nearly completed projects when publishers backed out at the last minute, leaving the company with nothing to show for its efforts.

    • reply
      January 22, 2013 2:51 PM

      Similar things happened to Ritual as well. I feel sorry for them.

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        January 22, 2013 3:44 PM

        I miss those guys. Too bad they couldn't finish Sins Episodes

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      January 22, 2013 3:16 PM

      I liked GPG, but the game they are pitching now isn't interesting and it was a hastily done pitch. Also, I don't think it takes 1.1 mil to make that game, but I understand they were trying to save an entire company, but it's not a charity, should have took more time for a better pitch, let more people go, and make a smaller budget game.

      Sorry guys.

      • reply
        January 22, 2013 3:44 PM

        I think it's interesting. It's all of GPG's strong points mashed together in one game. Obviously the execution is up in the air, but the concept is strong imo.

        I don't think they could have asked for any less money, because they're an established AAA studio with existing employees. Even Uber asked for 900k for Planetary Annihilation, and they're a much smaller studio (or were at the time). Asking for less means they can't make the game gamers want/expect, and doesn't save their studio. Everyone loses.

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          January 22, 2013 6:08 PM

          Yeah, I'm sure some people will like the concept, I didn't, but that's just me.

          And my point is that they had the option to save their company or go under, and while I appreciate him wanting to save all of it by asking 1.1 mil, the smart thing to do would be scope a smaller goal and save part of his company.

          As an "investor" browsing Kickstarter, I look at their pitch, I look at their goal for the game, and judging from what was presented, it didn't look like it took 1.1 mil to make that. What it looked like was that it took them 1.1 mil to save their studio, not make that project, and that's a pretty big difference.

          So, again, maybe they were better off changing their pitch, spending more time on it, or cutting part of their staff and goals.

    • reply
      January 22, 2013 3:28 PM

      Reminds me of Tim Schafer talking at Develop 2010 about EA calling up and canning Brutal Legend 2 via phone: http://www.shacknews.com/article/64752/double-fine-making-four-small

      " [Brütal Legend 2] was kind of a done deal so we were working designing that and then we got some bad news," said Schafer. "We got a phone call from the publisher and it was like 'Actually we're not going to do the sequel' and I was like 'Oh. That's interesting.' So that was not what I expected. Apparently when they said it's a done deal they meant there's no deal and we're done."

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        January 22, 2013 6:09 PM

        Activision not EA.

        Ea went on to publish it after Activision canceled.

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      January 22, 2013 3:42 PM

      If they have a bunch of mostly-finished games in their repertoire, why are they starting a new one rather than seeking new publishers or releasing what they have via some independent channel?

      Would they prefer to keep that stuff in the bag and go bankrupt, or release some stuff that's perhaps not quite AAA but still helps pay the bills...

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        January 22, 2013 3:45 PM

        Most likely, the publishers own (and are keeping) rights to the partially-completed work.

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        January 22, 2013 3:45 PM

        When a publisher funds a game they own what is made (finished or unfinished). GPG is just the contractor building it.

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          January 22, 2013 3:58 PM

          It depends on the contract; EA previously had the "EA Partners" program where the developer could get published while maintaining ownership of their IP, but that program is pretty much dead now. At one time, Rage was one of those titles, before Id Software was acquired by Zenimax. Crytek's Crysis games are published under EA Partners. Bulletstorm, DeathSpank, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Rock Band, Shank, Shadows of the Damned... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EA_Partners#EA_Partners_Program

          ...I don't believe we'll be seeing any more. Unless the rumors of Respawn Entertainment's title being one where Respawn gets to maintain IP ownership, the last one will probably be Crysis 3.

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            January 22, 2013 4:50 PM

            "...I don't believe we'll be seeing any more. Unless the rumors of Respawn Entertainment's title being one where Respawn gets to maintain IP ownership, the last one will probably be Crysis 3."

            This wasn't a rumor, this was confirmed, I believe several times even. While it is very rare, there will always be some, even AAA, developers that can self-fund and via that get the leverage in contract negotiations to keep IP ownership. Sometimes the developer can get that even while receiving publisher funding, like with Bungie and Activision. But that is Bungie and that is a 10 year publishing agreement with several games + DLC already agreed upon + all kinds of limits on Bungie's freedom in that period. The contract text is here:

            http://documents.latimes.com/bungie-activision-contract/

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            January 22, 2013 6:55 PM

            EA still has the Partners program. It's best to think of it as ala carte publishing services for other developers/publishers. Instead of having to sign an end-to-end development deal, a developer who can fund their own game can contract with EA to distribute/market it under the program (or only distribute it, or only market, or help with a little of the development, etc).

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            January 22, 2013 8:09 PM

            Isn't that the program Valve's been using for their retail releases recently? I'd expect to see that continue, unless EA really likes throwing away free money...

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        January 22, 2013 3:51 PM

        Publishers aren't biting on anything that isn't going to sell millions in the first 3 weeks.

        - We already saw THQ go bankrupt;
        - EA's in trouble after SW:TOR going bust;
        - 2K seems cagey for the past year or so, concentrating on publisher-owned titles;
        - Sega has fallen back on digital-distribution heavy, concentrating on Sonic, Aliens, Football Manager, and Total War;
        - Activision's cut off almost all third-party developers from publishing contracts, and has concentrated on Blizzard and Call of Duty;
        - Bethesda doesn't want to seem to publish anything it can't own lock, stock, and barrel.

        With all that, there's almost no one left to fund an independent developer to make an AAA game. A few developers saw this coming; Double Fine first went for 2 small projects published by THQ, then decided to go on their own. Obsidian's stuck on their own after THQ went bankrupt, probably leaving the South Park game publishing rights to be auctioned off to another publisher, but that's not a sustainable path going forward. This is going beyond "the death of the AA"; this effectively means that megapublishers will most likely only publish internally-owned IPs via internally-owned studios, with a few notable exceptions.

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          January 22, 2013 7:38 PM

          Along with this however is somewhat of a renaissance in crowd-funded games. There are more cool projects coming out of Indie devs than ever before, and even regular devs like Obsidian are jumping in. I cannot WAIT for Project Eternity.

    • reply
      January 22, 2013 7:46 PM

      Gas Canned Games lmao

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