In an extensive article/interview, Lorne Lanning, the man behind the Oddworld series (Abe’s Odyssey, Abe’s Exodus, Munch’s Odyssey, Stranger’s Wrath) explains his disdain for traditional publishers and reasons why his studio, Oddworld Inhabitants, has resisted buy-out offers from Electronic Arts, turning to self-publishing instead.
Mr. Lanning paints a rather horrifying image of developer-publisher relations, one that would be unbelievable, if others didn’t confirm it to be true. He doesn’t cut the big publishing corporations any slack and uses heavy words quite liberally. However, it’s hard not to empathize, considering that Oddworld Inhabitants has suffered several times due to the publisher’s actions, such as when the PS2 version of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath was cancelled, leading to EA cutting the marketing and promotional budget on the pretense of it not being a multiplatform title. As such, the game flopped commercially, failing to break even.
At the same time, Mr. Lanning gives praise to the digital distribution format, noting that cutting the retail releases and all the associated costs of manufacturing, packaging, shipping and striking deals with retailers allows them to lower production costs significantly and make it easier to turn a profit, so that the studio can remain in operation and make new games.
This read-worthy interview ends up on a sour note, reminding players that the real dirt is kept under wraps. What Mr. Lanning describes is the sanitized version. It’s disheartening just to think about it.