A relatively slow weekend, and a chance for a rapid fire update.
Real quick, some good news: Prey is a success. We know that within the first two months it passed one million units sold worldwide. And for a game on two platforms that's pretty darn good. There will be a sequel, and we think we have a interesting follow-up story to tell and some all-new innovations to bring new excitement to the table.
I recorded a Next Generation Podcast last Tuesday (Episode 6) and discussed a few topics. Interestingly, this podcast was recorded using Skype, with everyone on a conference call. This was my first experience with Skype and I have to say it was super easy to install and set-up, something I rarely experience even with games. The clarity was as good as a land line, and I've even used it to make international calls and it works BETTER than land lines. Skype for life!
In the podcast I give a reason or two why episodic content may have problems catching on, at least with major releases like Sin: Episodes, and the confusingly named Half-Life 2: Episode 1. One reason I didn't mention is that with episodic games there's frustration because you hardly ever come to a satisfying end -- instead they end with a cliffhanger so that you feel compelled to get the next episode 10-12 months later. Cliffhangers are fine with weekly TV shows, but it's really annoying with once per year releases. I think these studios will soon realize that they'll make a much bigger splash going back to major full-game releases. I bet we'll never see an episodic release win Game of the Year, for example.
I also talk about our new business strategy of working with multiple independent studios simultaneously. This has been something I've considered for a few years, but I wanted to wait until after Prey's release to purposely pursue. We did this during the first half of the 90's, as Apogee Software, when we pioneered the shareware distribution model of releasing games as episodic trilogies (a vastly different episodic model than the one I refer to above). Back then we worked with numerous external studios, giving many of them their start with funding, design guidance and marketing guidance, including Id Software, Terminal Reality, Remedy and one few people know about, Parallax Software, makers of Descent. This was a game we significantly funded ($200,000+), but the team's funding requirements continued to rise over the months to a point when we decided that we no longer could afford to be involved, in large part because at this same time we had decided to build up an internal development operation. We made a deal with Parallax to shop their game around, and they eventually signed with Interplay, who released the game a year later, and was one of their most successful titles ever.
Anyway, we are often contacted by talented, experienced independent studios looking to partner with us as we've done with past studios. It has become apparent to many studios that partnering with us allows them to create an original game, and reap far more of the rewards and benefits, by getting a better overall deal, and also sharing in the ownership of the IP -- the real Holy Grail in this industry. Id went on to become an industry super star. Remedy has achieved that status, and Human Head is right at that level, too, with publishers knocking down their doors to sign them after Prey's release.
So, going forward, 3D Realms will become a studio polygamist, teaming up with more than one studio, working on perhaps 4-6 external projects simultaneously, creating new IPs and hopefully helping more and more deserving, talented independent studios achieve financial independence, and the ability to call their their own creative shots in the future. I am hiring one or two additional IP Creative Directors to assist me in the management of these games. We've already been contacted by numerous highly qualified independent studios, and more are welcome to contact me. In a way, we're going back to our roots. Fun times ahead!