Junction Point Studios dropping Steam
Has Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios been forced to back down from digital distribution? GameSpot’s report from the little-publicised Austin Games Conference suggests so, and my enquiries have been met with silence. Expect the worst.
Rounding out the panel was Warren Spector, former Ion Storm designer who left the company specifically to found a new studio built on digitally distributed episodic content, a move he said didn’t work out as planned.
“I think I was a little ahead of my time,” Spector said, adding, “The money wasn’t there and the resistance to this model at that time was huge. And venture capital guys scared me to death.”
Spector has a traditional publishing deal at his current development house, Junction Point Studios. While he did mention in the panel that Junction Point had done some work with Valve Software and its Steam service, he said his company wouldn’t get into digital distribution for a while. Despite that, he did express a strong desire to see digital distribution succeed and play a role in games becoming more mainstream.
JPS was formed and presumably began early work in January 2005, about six months before Valve and Ritual announced their own episodic series. However it was not until November 2005 that Spector’s company announced its intention to embrace digital distribution (and as we now know, episodic releases too), a further three months after the Half-Life 2 and SiN episodes had been laid upon the gaming world.
While this might raise questions, we must consider the fact that Ritual’s episodic development budget came from their own pockets, whereas the more youthful JPS will have needed investors for what we can reasonably assume to be an innovative design; two sets of uncertain risk are not a healthy combination for a VC-funded project.