Gamesindustry.biz posted a great little discussion with Dylan Cuthbert over The Tomorrow Children, Q-Games’ free-to-play title that Sony shut down in 2017 after just a year of operation. Although many assumed the game was simply shut down due to low popularity, Cuthbert has now elaborated on the situation that they and Sony found themselves in, summing it up as “a mixture of all kinds of things that lined up in the wrong way”.
“It was a free-to-play game, so it needed time to grow, and for us to work out how to monetise it properly. But that’s the main reason it ended up being shut down, because we didn’t really manage to monetise it. We weren’t experienced in free-to-play, so that probably didn’t help, but neither were Sony. We were still finding our way to earn from the players. Not in a manipulative way, we wanted to find a nice way to earn just enough to keep the game going.” […]
“And it’s just one of those unfortunate things; we had a lot of content planned, but the tide had just changed at Sony internally and they were moving away from free-to-play. They cancelled a whole bunch of free-to-play titles around that time, and were moving back to premium titles. We got caught up in that as well.”Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games
He goes on to explain how Q-Games came to acquire the Tomorrow Children property thanks to some of Sony’s other internal changes over the years. But Sony wasn’t the only party involved and rights to content — from music to art to voice work — also had to be sorted out. “It took about eighteen months to deal with all that. And also to deal with the terms as well, to whittle down the terms of the contract”. It’s another rarely spoken reminder of just how much work is involved in licensing before a game can even be created.
There’s much more in the Gamesindustry.biz piece but I wanted to close with one of Cuthbert’s final comments, a suggestion for studios looking to gain access to a property or license: soft pressure.
“For other companies who are trying to do a similar thing, I think it’s best to just persevere. It’s not going to happen instantly. It might not even happen in a few years. But just be constant, soft pressure. Just soft pressure. Say, ‘Look, you’re not doing anything with it. You could still earn from this, if you give it back to me, and I just work with it and then give you a royalty from it.’
“Diplomacy really is the key. Everybody has to be friends at the end of the day, and it’s going to be good for them, it’s going to be good for you, and it’s going to be good for the game, and be good for the fans. So, it’s good all around if you can just work out how to do it.”Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games
I’ll be updating our existing Tomorrow Children page on the site with some more context now that these details are out. If you’d like to keep up with the ongoing work on the new version of the game, check out Q-Games’ Letters from the Void newsletter and Twitter account here.