by Joseph Leray
Deep Silver, the publisher behind "Metro: Last Light" and the upcoming "Saints Row IV" will be distributing inXile Entertainment's Kickstarter-funded "Wasteland 2," according to a press release sent out today.
"Wasteland 2" is currently no track for digital releases on Steam, Origin, and Good Old Games, but Deep Silver will be handling the brick-and-mortar retail side of things. This should, in theory, free up inExile to finish developing, testing, and optimizing the game itself, which is due later this year for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
“This is a perfect opportunity for inXile: it allows us to continue to focus all of our energy and money into the creative aspects of the game while letting Deep Silver take our game outside of the pure digital space," writes CEO and founder Brian Fargo. "This has the added bonus of allowing us to spend more of the Kickstarter funds on development while continue to retain all ownership and control.”
While Electronic Arts controls the rights to the original "Wasteland" -- the late-80's post-nuclear apocalypse RPG that would go on to inspire the "Fallout" series -- inExile successfully Kickstarted the sequel early last year, raising almost $3 million.
The "Wasteland 2" campaign revealed a dedicated base of old-school RPG fans with disposable cash: Obsidian eventually Kickstarted their own fantasy RPG ("Project Eternity"), and inXile revisited the well and crowdfunded "Torment: Tides of Numenara," a spiritual sequel to the classic "Planescape."
For its part, Deep Silver have made no bones about trying to grow as a publisher and distributor, snatching up the "Metro" and "Saints Row" franchises in the wake of THQ's implosion, and now dipping its toes in Western role-playing games. Deep Silver has a large presence in Europe in particular, where retail PC sales are more common than they are in the States.
“The uber-successful crowdfunding of 'Wasteland 2' … has shown how much interest for an RPG with traditional values still exists on consumers’ side, aside from what large publishers think the market needs,” comments Klemens Kundratitz, CEO of Deep Silver parent company Koch Media.
On the one hand, I'll be curious to see if other crowdfunded devs look to distributors for logistics and retail support. While inXile has no plans to develop "Wasteland 2" for consoles, other Kickstarter devs would need a publisher to ever get on Xbox Live, for example.
On the other hand, indie developers expressly use crowdfunding to get out from under publishers, and Brian Fargo is has been explicit about creative control. "Thanks to our backers, we’re fully funded and free to implement our own creative vision, and directly communicate with our backers and crowdsource ideas," he writes in a recent Kickstarter update.
Taking on secondary and tertiary tasks like distribution or Kickstarter rewards might be a way for publishers to get a piece of the pie that crowdfunding tries to keep away from them.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter