Game Developers Cooperative?

I was asked the other day by an interviewer about the past and future of manifesto games, with which I have been glad to have been involved. As I was telling him, though, that a portal dedicated to indie games is redundant by definition in the current environment, where a thousand flowers are definitely blooming, it occurred to me that what is needed now isn’t a distribution channel, but cooperative representation for marketing and business development. There are so many developers making games for digital distribution these days, it seems to me that it could be helpful to form a collective organization, with ownership fully shared by members. As is conventional with this model, the members could alter direction or model whenever they desire. There would be little or no fee to join, and the cooperative would take only a small, single digit percentage of sales (funds which, clearly the developers would still control). This would work as an extremely agile publisher, for a lot of smaller developers, who would continue to own their own IP, and have the advantages of publisher distribution without its constraints or disadvantages.

So, my question to industry folks is; does this seem to have enough value to developers that it’s something on which I should spend my own spare time as well as that of a few other folks, to get it started?

5 thoughts on “Game Developers Cooperative?

  1. It’s definitely interesting. We’ve considered setting up the same thing at Big Hadron Games.

    Consider charging a flat annual membership fee instead of royalties.

    Also consider some sort of entry requirement to ensure some quality standards among the developers. (Developers must demonstrate that they can make a decent game before they gain admission.)

  2. Thanks, Stephen;
    We absolutely agree that there should be standards for membership.

    We have gone over the possibility of membership fees rather than revenue share, but a modest revenue share (that could be capped) seems preferable in that it better represents an ownership by members, and allows a flourishing community to more actively help its members. -It’s not actually a royalty, as the members maintain control of the cooperative assets, and a royalty specifically represents a licensing fee, which isn’t applicable here.

  3. We have considered this often when consulting for so many groups that would benefit from working together. Right now we’re working on two projects in virtual worlds, an iPhone game, a long multiplayer narrative and a live interactive touring show with lots of ARGs embedded. I would be interested in a consortium/cooperative that facilitates flow between various forms of live and mixed media gameplay production.

  4. Nathan, it’s a sound idea, sort of a variant of United Artists for games, only with many more artists. I’m in agreement that a revenue share is the best arrangement, and also provides an easier entry for the much smaller developers and indie studios.

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