Undead Labs Still Awaiting Payment For XBLA Release Of State Of Decay


I recently had a lengthy conversation with a member of the Undead Labs team and I couldn’t help but take note of a small portion of it. Community manager (Undead) Sanya mentioned in passing that the dev is yet to receive their first payment from Microsoft for the June XBLA release of State of Decay. After our chat, I couldn’t help but return to the brief statement more than once. See I’d always been under the impression (and had it confirmed in the past) that publishers paid writers, developers etc. royalties on a quarterly basis, after earnings calls and such. I found the entire conversation intriguing, especially when Sanya pointed out that,

Players, rather naturally, assume that there’s a direct pipeline from their wallets to our pockets. We made the game, you bought the game, right? 
But you didn’t buy it from the Lab. You bought it from a publisher, who collects the money. Heck, if you bought it from Steam, the money went to Steam which then goes to Microsoft and only then to us. Eventually.

After becoming involved in the games industry, or becoming a rather informed and capable part of the community, you have the tendency to stop thinking about things in this fashion. But even Infinity Ward needs to wait for that first check to reassess things. As Sanya put it,

When we do get that first check, it won’t be particularly magical. All of the development costs have to be paid back, first. 

Again, this fact is rarely contemplated by casual gamers, or to some extent, even hardcore one’s. When we hear a game sold over a million copies/downloads, our mind has a tough time wrapping around that figure, and we generally assume the dev (or publisher) is simply swimming in cash at that point. The good news is that Undead will actually be able to quash its development costs and have a little bread left over to start 2014 (and their next project) off right. Which is next to unheard of in the industry.
She actually comes close to praising the royalty paying process as it helped the small studio take a more measured approach to its 2014 planning. She remarked that Undead Labs founder Jeff Strain looks at his team as life-long members of the family instead of moving parts in an ever-changing machine. Which is remarkable to say the least.

Feel free to check out our reviews of the stellar PC port of State of Decay and its first piece of DLC titled Breakdown.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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  • Crapgamer

    This is just the way the industry is, selling a million copies of a game is considered a disappointment. It’s not like Microsoft is stiffing them of payment or anything. They have a contract.

    • zpoccc

      for a dev team this small, a million copies is in no way a disappointment.

  • Boyd

    I hope one day gamedevelepors will start a cooperation and publish the games they are making themselves,you cut out a lot of parties that makes the game unnecessary expensive.how do you think about that?