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How the nitty gritty of video game funding shapes what you play

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February 15, 2021 at 10:30AM

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From old-school publishing models to a collective of indie game makers, funding has never been more important for an industry in perpetual flux

Brenda Romero, the designer behind Prohibition-era strategy game Empire of Sin, remembers the meeting as if it were yesterday. Facing publisher bigwigs in a Cologne conference room, the veteran game maker presented what she had been writing for the past five years, and dreaming of for 20. “It was the most nerve-racking pitch of my life,” she says. “I’m comfortable with public speaking but to be on a stage with an audience of two, where you’re trying to get somebody to fund an idea for two-and-a-half to three years, that’s a big ask.”

For all the shifting dynamics of the video game industry over the past decade – most notably the proliferation of indie games, sometimes made without any funding at all – this is still the most likely way a video game will get made. In a world before Covid-19, hopeful game makers and executives would jet off to conferences such as Gamescom, E3, or the Game Developers Conference to thrash out deals in backroom meetings while the public enjoyed the show.

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