Join Date: Jul 2009
Well, in case of ToMI LucasArts/TellTale relationship, lets take logistics of the partnership into consideration (sadly, we can only speculate as this is something that is rarely released to public).
Is TellTale paying money to acquire the license for the project or does LucasArts hire TellTale? (which is a logical step since TellTale consists of a lot of proven ex-LucasArts employees). I think LucasArts was funding the project (because licenses are never just 'given away', there's money involved - either self-funding developer pays for license to license-holder, or license-holder funds the developer), just as Universal was funding BttF and JP for example. This is usually the way it goes, and I think TellTale's own money at the time were going into Sam & Max: Season 3. Now... let's suppose ToMI team consisted of 30 people (well, we can be more specific, but more research has to go into that) with an average salary of 65,000 per year (salaries in game industry range from 35,000 to 100,000 depending on your position). And, let's suppose that it took a year to produce ToMI (from pre-production to the release of the last episode), so that's a budget of... 1,950,000$. And that's a pretty small budget (but the game's also episodic, so), but I didn't take into account all the varying salaries plus additional expenses (voice actors, maybe software) plus whatever LucasArts has to pay for their consulting part to their own employees. But let's go with 2,000,000$. Okay, 2,500,000$, kinda taking into account whatever I didn't take into account.
So, LucasArts funds ToMI with 2,500,000$. ToMI costs 25$, right? Let's say the split is 60/40 (and I can't say for sure if it works that way, maybe it's everything to LA first and then royalties kinda thing... I don't know... but now, let's go with a split) in LA favor, 15$ per digital copy. The game has to sell 166,666 copies for LucasArts to break even, that is, IF the budget is 2,500,000$. More if we take into account Steam which takes its own cut. More if we take into account retail copies which are divided between retailer/publisher/developer (and if we go with the split, then the 'developer' cut is divided between LA and TT).
And, as I said, I don't know the exact logistics of the deal between LucasArts and TellTale, it could go any way. But the most likely situation: LucasArts funds the project, LucasArts barely broke even, the profit from the project for LucasArts was minimal. However, let's also remember that LucasArts had their remakes going, and all the money for the remakes went straight to LA without any sharing. But there was also some mutual advertising benefit to it too... And I think the remakes themselves barely broke even too, I really doubt that there was much profit for them. So, there is really no financial sense in that for LA.
Sure, if somebody actually approached LucasArts and said, 'Hey, we're paying you money so we could use the license (because that's what you gotta do when you get the license) and then share the profit! (and that part kinda depends on the deal, it doesn't necessarily go that way)', sure, LucasArts would agree. Because even if they need to spend money on consulting, that's not funding the project. But that doesn't make financial sense for the developer (pay money for license PLUS to fund the project on your own PLUS when getting money give whatever cuts to whatever people necessary), unless they know they can make a profit. And with MI, nobody would do that.
PS. And the calculations in this post are very basic, I didn't take into account a lot of stuff, like 'there are less people working during pre-production than during production, so less money to be paid in that period' and many other details... But it kinda gets the point across still, I suppose. I'm really oversimplifying pretty much everything for the sake of staying sane in this speculative conversation - we don't have access to most of the data we need.
PS2. Universal and BttF/JP is kinda another song altogether. First, the licenses are much more well known than MI. Then, the games are for a much more wider non-gamer audience (like people who like the movies but don't really play games a lot), so, all in all, I'm pretty sure that BttF and JP has netted a much bigger profit to TT and Universal than MI did for TT and LA... and, also, since the games were kinda developed in almost-parallel, TT could switch people from team to team when necessary, which means that less amount of money is spent more efficiently. And BttF/JP licenses are worth much more than MI license would ever be, so I'm pretty sure Universal funded the projects.
Last edited by Farlander; 04/17/2012 at 11:14 pm.