Wasteland creator and Inxile CEO Brian Fargo thinks the relationship between publishers and developers is anything but healthy. Speaking to Ripten, Fargo said developers are hurt by the practices of their publishers.
"There is more tension than you can believe," he said. "You would not believe the stories you hear about how developers are treated by publishers these days. It is abysmal."
As for why these issues are not better publicized, Fargo said if developers spoke out, it could result in blacklisting.
"Because they are afraid to talk, because they'll never get another contract if they do. That’s why. You cannot believe…it's awful. It's really bad," he said.
Fargo pointed to Obsidian and Fallout: New Vegas as an example of an unhealthy publisher/developer relationship. He referenced the developer missing a bonus by one Metacritic point, saying bugs in the game were not the developer's fault.
"Look at the most recent one with those poor guys at Obsidian. They did Fallout: New Vegas, the ship date got moved up and, who does the QA on a project? The publisher is always in charge of QA," he said. "When a project goes out buggy, it's not the developer. The developer never says, 'I refuse to fix the bug,' or, 'I don’t know how.' They never do that. It’s the publisher that does the QA, so if a product goes out buggy, it's not the developer’s fault.
"So, [Fallout: New Vegas] goes out buggy and they didn't do the QA, their ship date got moved up and they missed their Metacritic rating by one point. Did they get a bonus? No. Do you think that's fair?"
Fargo admitted that not all publishers are guilty of mistreating developers but that he has heard numerous "horrible stories" about poor treatment. It's no surprise, then, that Fargo turned to Kickstarter for his latest project, Wasteland 2. The campaign for that game surpassed its $900,000 goal in just two days and, as of press time, stands at over $1.6 million from almost 33,000 backers. Wasteland 2 is scheduled to launch for the PC during October 2013.
"I feel so much more connected now to the public," Fargo said, of using Kickstarter to fund Wasteland 2. "Normally, when you're working for a publisher, you're trying to get your own vision across, of course. You're also jumping through hoops to make some guy or group happy, and it's not necessarily what the fans want. It's what we have to do in order to get paid. There's a bit of a disconnect. Now, I'm on the front lines, looking eye to eye with the fans and they're telling me, 'Brian this is what we want. You better deliver.' I like the process better. It's more personal and more intense."