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The Smartest Man in Gaming EXTRA!

The rest of our Jonathan Blow interview...

Page 4 of 4

JB: Say you are independent and you have a really good idea for a good game and you have the capability to make a good game, but you don't have the money. What typically happens is you have to try really hard and waste a bunch of time and energy pitching it to publishers. Publishers are busy and they don't know you. Eventually you work really hard and get a deal that isn't that good for you as a developer. Then you make the game and you get no royalties and you lived off subsistence wages while you were making it and that's all that you get. That's a typical developer story, and then you do that over and over until you run out of business.

So what we wanted to do is provide funding for independent developers on nicer terms that are much more positive for the developer and help them to stay financially dependent. Our terms are pretty good. We don't take as much risk in some ways - we sign really crazy games that are different from most games. We require people to have a working prototype, which is some level of proof that they kind of know what they are doing. We wouldn't fund a game that was just a design doc with a bunch of pretty pictures, whereas publishers do that.

XBW: Do you think the major platform holders such as Microsoft and Sony are doing enough to encourage indie development?

JB: I don't exactly have a good picture of the inner workings of any of those places. I work with them as an external developing partner, so maybe they feel like they do a lot of that. I don't even know. It doesn't feel like it from my point of view.

It differs, though. Sony for example has a public stance: they sign relatively arty and strange games to PSN and that's kind of cool. Whereas I feel like Microsoft is more like, 'Look, what do we think is going to be a more successful game that most people will want to buy?' Sony is like, 'Maybe this will sell less but we think it will add distinctiveness to the platform'. That's cool; if Microsoft did more of that then it would be great.

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