Image: People Can Fly

Warsaw-based developer People Can Fly released Outriders on April 1, 2021, a sci-fi cooperative action role-playing game that managed to attract millions of curious players. Now, months later, the developer is worried about how it hasn’t been paid for what seemed like an obviously successful five-year effort.

People Can Fly revealed in a press release shared today that the studio has not received any royalties from Square Enix despite Outriders’ first quarter of sales having ended on August 16. The immediate implication here is that the game is a failure that never met the total costs of its production, but Sebastian Wojciechowski, President of the Management Board of PCF Group SA, has raised questions after admitting that People Can Fly has no clue how many copies Outriders has actually sold.

“We don’t have any sales figures for Outriders – we estimate it at between 2 and 3 million units and assumed that this was a result that would ensure profitability for this project in the first quarter of sales,” said Wojciechowski. “The lack of payment by the Publisher probably means that, according to Square Enix, this is not the case.”

While this makes People Can Fly seem like an incompetent group that never bothers to research costly deals with publishers, it does raise questions as to whether Square Enix might be hiding something from the studio. The publisher did admit in a report in May 2021 that Outriders managed to achieve an impressive 3.5 million unique users, which suggests that the game should have at least broken even.

“Perhaps it was caused by some elements of Square Enix’s sales policy, the details of which we do not know, such as partnerships concluded by the Publisher with distribution platforms or entities offering Outriders as an addition to their products,” Wojciechowski goes on to say.

“Failure to achieve the level of profitability may also mean that the costs incurred by the Publisher are higher than expected. But I don’t want to speculate; we will analyze the situation further. It is worth noting, however, that such explanations take time and our influence on the Publisher’s position is limited. His role is leading here.”

That part about “partnerships concluded by the Publisher with distribution platforms or entities offering Outriders as an addition to their products” has generated quite a bit of discussion among Outriders fans who are convinced that there is a bigger story behind all of this. One theory is that Outriders’ day-one release on Xbox Game Pass might not have been the best idea.

According to the agreement, the Publisher would pay them 45 days from the end of the calendar quarter, ie by 16/08/2021 at the latest. Today, however, the money has not been transferred to the Company’s account.

This probably means that, according to Square Enix, the game Outriders did not break even after the first quarter of sales (04/06/2021), i.e. according to the Publisher, the revenues from the sale of the game are lower than the total costs of its production (including Quality Assurance), distribution and promotion.

Source: People Can Fly

Don’t Miss Out on More FPS Review Content!

Our weekly newsletter includes a recap of our reviews and a run down of the most popular tech news that we published.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

  1. Game wasn’t my cup of tea, so…

    Also, if you read the article, it does say the Developer doesn’t get paid until the Publisher realizes a profit – which is what they are speculating has happened. Not sure if that’s a typical contract or not between a developer and publisher, but I’ve seen similar clauses in other contracts where funds waterfall down through parties, those on top get paid for and those on bottom have to wait, and if the money runs out, well shit.

  2. [QUOTE=”Denpepe, post: 39792, member: 284″]
    At least it’s on the epic game store where the developpers get more money, oh wait… guess not.
    [/QUOTE]

    It wasn’t an exclusive. So it just means they are dealing with whatever cut epic games gets. Problem is the pie is being divided out before profits are realized.

  3. There was a free demo, I don’t know if the 3.5 million players includes that or not. Frankly I really hope the game isn’t a success, because it is bellow average. They deserve a slap with a shovel, not bonuses for it.

  4. [QUOTE=”GunShot, post: 39876, member: 1790″]
    Expected and good riddance!

    Now, fly your as-x in a cave for good!

    Get woke, go broke!
    [/QUOTE]

    Ok I gotta ask. What was ‘woke’ about outriders?

  5. Read a bit more into this

    The developer got paid for development. There was some contract in place that did up-front funding. The issue here is strictly in royalties.

    The contract states the Publisher won’t pay royalties until all their (Publishers) costs are paid. So that’s the cost to list on every single console and store front they did, the cost to the developer for the up-front funding, the cost for advertising and premium placement, etc.

    So Square/Enix hasn’t made any money yet – at least that’s what this infers. People Can Fly may or may not have, depending on how much that undisclosed up-front funding was.

  6. And just a bit more research, because contracts intrigue me.

    Apparently this style of contract that PCF / SE have is very common.

    [URL unfurl=”true”]https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TimRepaDavies/20210512/381236/Contract_Killers_What_developers_should_eliminate_from_their_publishing_agreement_part_2.php[/URL]

    The most common approach is for the publisher to recoup its publishing costs from game revenues first at 100% with royalties only being paid to the developer after this time.

  7. That’s exactly what hollywood is doing. That’s why on paper even billion dollar movies loose or make very little money.

Leave a comment