Let's think about this typical scenario:
I have 10 employees (which is pretty low) and have the intention to create a
game. Since the game is aiming to use a pure FLOSS engine, either I or
someone on that team has to build it from scratch which takes time and
effort. Let's say I aim for a year to two years for an engine from scratch.
On top of that, I have to hire animators and programmers and artists and
sound engineers. Let's say I also have someone to handle the marketing as
well. Oh and don't forget an administrative assistant since we don't want the
engineers having to deal with paperwork and use up their time. I'm guessing
that you, Jason Self, wouldn't work for free since you have to eat.
Especially since you say you live in Seattle and it isn't cheap to live
In that scenario, I have to pay these people rates relative to their skills
in the industry. They wouldn't work for free and even paying them $30,000 a
year would be peanuts and I'm guessing $50,000+ easily. Prior to hiring these
people, I would have to risk my savings or find some sort of capital to get
things going. The first year or two is going to be building through my
savings or that capital for not only the employees, but the rent and
utilities for the office.
Let's say we finally finish the game. In your ideal scenario, you would offer
ALL of the game available at no cost which includes the engine and the
artwork since you believe that artwork and video and sounds should be given
away for free.
Here are the scenarios:
1.) You sell the game for $20, which is under the average $60 price of a
game. Someone goes to your site to buy the game but then also notices they
can get the game for free. They will pick the free game.
2.) Let's say that person feels bad and REALLY wants to support you. But then
at the same time they look at the cost. In the era of Steam sales, people are
groomed to wait for $60 PC games to drop to $5. That could take years, but
they are conditioned to wait for these seasonal sales.
3.) That same person may not play PC games but is used to freemium or $1
games from the Apple or Google app stores on their phone or tablet. That
industry has conditioned those consumers to either get their games for free
or at bottom prices. With that mentality, do you think they will pay $10 or
$20 for your game? Never.
So where does that leave us? Now you are the owner of a company and you
poured all this money into your game due to having to pay employees and the
other costs associated. Don't give me the "oh you can get people to do things
for free" mentality. Good talent wants to be paid for it because they have
bills like everyone else.
That is why I leaned towards the scenario of having the game engine free and
the assets not when you sell your game DRM free. You could provide (or even
charge for the source code since that is also ok) the source code for the
code itself. Its true that the game won't really function without the assets
and is just a skeleton, but you can look in there and make sure its not
spying on you and is of quality work. When you buy the game, the assets are
tied to your email account or user id through a watermark of sorts to
validate your purchase. That way you can also see who is distributing the
game if it is pirated heavily on bittorrent. You can get to the source.
So that's my thought. I probably wasted my breath with the people on here
because you will always say "give me free code and free art and free video
and free everything" without the consequences. It just seems a little closed
minded and not realistic at times when you want to aim for something as big
as a video game and want quality work while still respecting freedoms.