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Rag Doll studio forsakes digital distribution

Healey's new company chooses publishers :: May 21st, 2006 :: General :: 9 Responses

Last December Rag Doll Kung Fu developer Mark Healey announced that he had left Lionhead. On Friday his new studio was named, and it appears that Media Molecule has chosen the ‘old media’ path. The team of ten at the company—Healey, Alex Evans, David Smith and an unnamed collection of others—are currently three months into development of a “next generation” game, and working towards a demo to “secure a good publishing deal”.

Rag Doll Kung Fu cinematic
Rag Doll Kung Fu earned plenty of attention and many positive reviews.

Going for a publishing deal first is an unusual choice given the success of Rag Doll Kung Fu on Steam. Developing a next-gen game is also an unusual choice given RDKF’s indie nature, and it is likely that the two are linked somehow. But why has Healey chosen them in the first place, and for his studio’s first game to boot?

The strong retail deals negotiated by Tripwire Interactive and Ritual Entertainment followed on directly from the publicity and stability gained from the Steam distribution of their games. It seems like madness to step back into the gauntlet of courting publishers from the start of development, and although we know next to nothing about Media Molecule’s game it is difficult to imagine an situation that would force Healey’s hand in such a direction. I can only hope that the message given by the press release is misleading.

9 Responses to this post:

  1. Andy Simpson Says:

    You’re right. It does seem insane. It’d be like Introversion not using Steam for Defcon. The only reason I can see not to release on Steam is to get money out of publishers. But that just leads to the developer getting rubbish profits off their game. It’s not like going on Steam cuts off your path to retail. Tripwire, Valve and Ritual all have deals to get their game to retail.

  2. Ulf Jälmbrant Says:

    One reason I can see for persuing the publishing deal first is that while you could probably self fund an indie game especially if it’s done as a hobby while getting salary elsewhere (as rag doll kung fu was). When it comes to next gen development it’s impossible unless you can secure funding.

    I might not mean it that harsh but you get the point.

  3. Tom Edwards Says:

    That’s certainly true, Ulf. I’m just wondering if making a next-gen game as your first project is a good idea, considering the workload you take on and flexibility and profit margins you lose.

  4. Trigger- Says:

    bad blood makes for crazy idea’s… Maybe he is riding high on the previous release. i didn’t like the first all that much.

  5. hahnchen Says:

    If you’re a new developer wanting to do a next gen game, then you’re not going to be able to do it without financial backing. Not all studios want to go down the indie gaming route.

  6. Andy Simpson Says:

    There are other ways to get financial backing without selling your soul to a publisher, like finding investors, banks, etc.

    But yeh, going for all out next-gen title on your first try isn’t the best plan. Originally Valve’s first game was going to be just an OK game to get the money flowing while they worked on their next game, Prospero. Didn’t so much happen like that, but there we go.

  7. Ed Says:

    There may be other routes, but they are hard.

    Look at the trouble Unknown-Worlds (makers of Natural-Selection, the most popular half-life mod) are having. They’ve spent like 2 years trying to get investment, and they’ve certainly got a good track record.

  8. Tom Edwards Says:

    They too are making a next-gen game.

  9. Kadayi Says:

    I’d go with the notion that they need a publisher in order to finance a larger project, rather than they are rejecting the idea of a digital distribution. Without the profits made from RDKF through steam I doubt that the departure that has occurred would of arisen.