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Rockstar Stories – Leaving Money on the Table

2016.10.03.08.53 · No Comments

Rockstar Stories – How Rockstar Games is Leaving Money on the Table

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent with an Open Storefront for Content http://jeffool.com

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent and Make Tons of Money Doing It http://jeffool.com

Rockstar hasn’t released any single player DLC for their 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V. What they have released is tons of free content for it’s multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, and offered in-game currency for real money. Apparently it’s sold gangbusters. Every time news hits about GTAO there’s always complaints “I wish they’d release single player content” or “They said they would release more heists!” (They haven’t.) So, I’d like to pitch an idea for a lot more, widely varied, single player content. Allow me to dream for a moment.

I’d like to see Rockstar open a new studio largely staffed of fresh hires to bolster their future games. People looking to get into the industry, for that first job. The kind of people who want to apply, but don’t have the experience to get the type of jobs that are actually advertised. Start them off with jobs scripting single player DLC content in Rockstar’s open world games.

You want your A team on your A job. Rockstar’s teams all have excellent content creators who create, often, very compelling and interesting quests that work on several levels, both offering fun gameplay and compelling main quests. I imagine (maybe wrongly?) that a second team, still of top level quality, is tasked with the non-essential quests, offering wonderful atmosphere and characters to fill out the greater world. For brevity’s sake only, let’s call them the B team.

But what about the minor leagues? I’m confident Rockstar can create a studio chiefly staffed of entry level developers, all tasked with learning and using the tools to put written missions into action. This farm league of content will obviously need scripts. Open that to everyone.

Create a blind submission system open to everyone, and let the studio decide what works well as a combined DLC package. Let aspiring designers write and pitch concepts at different levels, let those ideas be greenlit, conditionally greenlit with criticism, or turned down with optional criticism. From this point Rockstar can bring those designers in to flesh out points of contention or script, or do it themselves, but it’s key they cut those writers in on the profit. And while those rookie scripters should all get a salary, I can imagine some of them wanting a percentage too, but that’s their place to argue for.

The real benefit to this? Once you have teams able to work with each other, and others, to create worthwhile DLC? You have a team of people pumping out lots of small content for small fees, using existing in-game resources and existing tools. Then what do you do? You pluck the top talent of this creative team, and you partner them with big names.

I’d love to see the mix of character and crime drama author Greg Rucka, or Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven DeKnight, or maybe some inspired work from Dear White People’s Justin Simien (did you know that’s getting a Netflix series? I and @GiantSquidOverdrive called that in January, and Simien even retweeted that, four months before the announce… Ain’t he a stinker?)

Offer players a storefront for single player DLC. I’m not even asking for the ability to inject new models or sounds. Rockstar would probably demand full voice acting, but honestly so many people click through that it’s crazy. Only bother with rookie voice actors too, to help them get their chops, if you really want that.

My underlying point here is a simple one. It’s completely feasible. And with the half a billion Rockstar has made in GTA V’s online alone, it would be doable for a very tiny portion of that. Especially if you use similar tools for more than one of their future games. Then you’ve opened the floodgates to creators making money from working with, and writing for, Rockstar.

Spare paragraphs written for, but not used in, this post:

In 2015 Bethesda tried to monetize mods for its game The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, and the backlash was palpable. Not just because people were stealing mods and uploading them as their own to make money, or the concern that popular mods used as bases would demand payment, but also because the rate the mod creators were paid was shit. The modders who made the content could set their own price, but they only received 25% of that fee. The rest went to Bethesda and the store owners, Valve.

Did you know Star Trek used to have an open script policy? From 1989 to July 2001, any fan who enjoyed the show could write and submit up to two full scripts in attempt to have it bought and made into an episode. Of course the vast majority were never followed up on, they had several lawsuits thrown at them, and only handfuls were made into episodes for the various Star Trek TV shows… One might say the lawsuits are the prime case for not opening your doors to new entrants. I say the 12 year lifespan of this is exactly why it’s worthwhile. They canceled the program just a few years before they canceled the TV show that was on at the time, Star Trek: Enterprise (February 2005).

Would it change your mind if I told you one of those writers was Bryan Fuller, creator of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal? Or Ronald D. Moore, who went on to win a Peabody for his work on Battlestar Galactica? Read up on some of the people who got their foot in the door that way: https://weminoredinfilm.com/2015/06/27/6-writers-who-got-their-foot-in-hollywoods-door-thanks-to-star-treks-open-submission-policy/

Tags: 2016 · Armchair Quarterback · Development · game · Game Industry · Gaming's future · Idea