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A question about the MI license

posted by Swashguy on - last edited - Viewed by 398 users

For those more knowledgeable than I, what do you think is the reason LucasArts right now shows no interest in granting Telltale the rights to do another Monkey Island game?

As a business layman, all I see is a popular IP being left fallow. If LA had plans for it - and so far we've heard nothing in that regard - I'd find the current situation less quizzical, but what we've got here is a company (TT) that picked up a franchise that hadn't been touched in almost ten years, made a commercially successful and critically acclaimed game out of it, and showed plenty of interest in going for another round with the franchise. However, from what we've heard, LA isn't interested. Wouldn't another game be a win-win situation for them, as opposed to having a clearly fan-favorite series collecting dust in a Star Wars memorabilia-ridden shelf, I wonder?

Granted, TOMi was no Skyrim or anything, but from what we've heard it exceeded sales expectations, which I assume means at the very least that it more than broke even. Its reception evidenced that there still is a crowd for this type of game and for this franchise in particular, and that the genre's fans would welcome another addition to the series. Isn't that preferable in just about every conceivable way to carrying out the gaming equivalent of crop rotation to a non-best-selling but evidently still very popular IP?

And yes, I am aware that the presidency has changed at LA and that their focus has shifted, but this is strictly business we're talking here, no releasing a new title just 'out of love' for the series or as a gift 'for the fans'. The franchise gave them money with TOMI; right now, it isn't, but it very much could, and with little to no effort from their part. I suck at economics, but that just doesn't make sense to me.

Am I missing something here? Did LA's involvement with the game require more effort from them than I thought, that in the end TOMI wasn't all that profitable? Did they only wish for another Monkey Island game to coincide with the releases of SMI and MI2's enhanced editions? Your thoughts, please.

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  • I appreciate you taking your time for such an elaborate response; that's something you rarely see outside of flamewars and assorted forum drama. Thanks for that.

    If things indeed were as you posited - conservative guesstimates nonwithstanding, as evidence points out to TOMI having been at least above average in terms of overall profitability - I could indeed understand why LucasArts isn't interested right now in another Monkey Island chapter. That's a lot of money and effort, for a return that pales in comparison to their other endeavors'. However, even if your guess is as good as mine, I don't believe LucasArts funded the project:

    @Farlander said: just as Universal was funding BttF and JP for example.

    I was under the impression that Telltale had simply acquired licensing rights, just like it did with the other IPs, and that the money for purchasing the license and developing the game came from venture rounds. It'd stand to reason that the same thing happened with TOMI, especially considering that, for all their quality, the chapters had that rough-edged charm that does not quite bespeak the deep pockets of a LucasArts-level company funding their development.

    Now, I don't mean to be contentious for argument's sake. My hypothesis would mean that LucasArts is being financially unwise, so Ockham's razor clearly indicates that your line of reasoning is likely to be the case, even if there's no real evidence pointing towards it. Like you said, we're unlikely to ever get a straight answer to these questions, but I'd still like to hear people's thoughts on the matter (and, who knows, maybe catch the attention of a stray dev's eye...)

  • I was under the impression that Telltale had simply acquired licensing rights, just like it did with the other IPs, and that the money for purchasing the license and developing the game came from venture rounds.

    The deal with Universal was signed a year before TellTale closed the deal with those investments. However, that's also a possibility, so.... I don't know.

    the chapters had that rough-edged charm that does not quite bespeak the deep pockets of a LucasArts-level company funding their development.

    Well, IF LucasArts was funding, I do not find that strange - since why they'd spend tons of money on that?

    But, anyway, yeah. I think I've got nothing to say anymore. :)

  • @Farlander said: Well, IF LucasArts was funding, I do not find that strange - since why they'd spend tons of money on that?

    Fair enough. Oh well, until or when someone discloses that information, it'll be difficult to know for sure whether there was some funding or just licensing going on from LucasArts' part on TOMI. But thank you for humoring me with your speculation :).

    Anybody else care to pitch in their two pieces o'eight?

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    Syd

    @Swashguy said: Fair enough. Oh well, until or when someone discloses that information, it'll be difficult to know for sure whether there was some funding or just licensing going on from LucasArts' part on TOMI. But thank you for humoring me with your speculation :).

    Anybody else care to pitch in their two pieces o'eight?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Michael Land is still a LucasArts employee (At the very least, he seems to be their pocket composer since he's done no professional work outside of LucasArts titles, save for ToMI), and he provided the music for ToMI, so at the very least LucasArts had to provide the music, and that costs money. They were also on hand for story consultation (Telltale would have to check in with LucasArts and make sure that they were okay with the story they had planned for ToMI) and to critique concept art, which would also cost LucasArts money since it takes up their employees' time.

    However, I have no idea to what extent ToMI was funded by LucasArts. It does make me curious, since if ToMI was largely funded by LucasArts, it seems like it'd be less likely that we'll see another season in the near future, considering LucasArt's change in leadership and their current priorities (i.e., milk the Star Wars cow until it falls over dead).

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Michael Land is still a LucasArts employee

    Michael Land has been CEO of SparkPoint Software since 2000 (which is also the year when he stopped being an LA employee), and since then has done some game composing outside of LucasArts projects, like SimCity 4 and Bard's Tale. So for ToMI he technically was a hired outsourcer. ... Oh, and he's also a Technology Consultant somewhere.

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    Syd

    @Farlander said: Michael Land has been CEO of SparkPoint Software since 2000 (which is also the year when he stopped being an LA employee), and since then has done some game composing outside of LucasArts projects, like SimCity 4 and Bard's Tale. So for ToMI he technically was a hired outsourcer. ... Oh, and he's also a Technology Consultant somewhere.

    I stand corrected, then.

    LucasArts still did more than give them the license, though, even if it was just story/concept art consultation, so at least a little bit of their money went into it. It would be nice to know the extent of their funding, but Telltale might not be able to disclose such information.

  • I like your arguments, but TTG most succesfull game may have been TOMI. If we judge the attention the game has garnered by the forum post, TOMI is the 2nd most active forum besides offtopic.

    I thing TTG must have made a profit out of it, unless the voice actors killed the budged with their nonsense demands. We must remember how hard it was to recruit Earl Boen out of retirement.

    TTG continues to grow by making small market games, and yet theres no 2nd sequel of TOMI. I believe the problem doesnt lies in TTG, but in Lucas Arts, and i believe they must have made profit, but just not in the way their franchise Star Wars does.

    The diverted money to make Star Wars using the kinect and that game is being trashed out by gaming sites and reviews are coming in bad fast. I wish they give more chance to the adventure genre like Monkey Island and give it a deserving ending.

  • I like your arguments, but TTG most succesfull game may have been TOMI.



    BttF is confirmed to be the most successful TTG game, at least by Q1 2011.
    And there's also information that TellTale's revenues in 2010 were 90% greater than in 2009 (which is the year when ToMI was released and when it would be sold the most). Although, admittedly, 2010 saw both S&M3 and BttF. (But, 2009 had Wallace & Gromit and ToMI).

  • @Farlander said: Michael Land has been CEO of SparkPoint Software since 2000 yadayada.

    Damn, Farlander. Where do you get all that stuff? As always, your input is appreciated.

    Syd: Yes, even if things were as I posited, there would always be some expense from LucasArts' part. But, provided my assumptions are true, that type of expense would have been largely negligible with the profits TOMI did make, even if it wasn't the sales equivalent of, say, a Halo game.

    Everlast: Yes, the 'problem' does indeed lie in LucasArts, as we know it's from their part that there has been no interest so far in another Monkey Island game. The purpose of this thread was to pool some thoughts on the matter, so we might get another understanding of why exactly that's the case, even if all we can do is mostly speculate.

  • Damn, Farlander. Where do you get all that stuff?

    Internet, mostly :p Sadly, my professional network doesn't include yet anybody from LA.

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