Bastion developers Supergiant Games have talked about the ins and outs of publishing at GDC China in Shanghai, according to Gamasutra . Started by a couple of ex-Command and Conquer chaps who quit their jobs and invested in the company, Supergiant's success or failure as a company relied on Bastion.
Although Bastion was intended to be an indie release, the game was picked up by uber-publishers Warner Bros. Interactive. However, Supergiant chose not to accept any money from Warner Bros., instead relying on their clout as publishers. "It's important to note that they did not give us any money," said Amir Rao, Supergiant's co-founder and studio director. "They certainly paid for things, but it was one of those things early on where we decided we weren't going to take money."
Signing with Warner Bros. was a savvy move on Supergiant's part. We've heard rumours that big publishers get paid more than indie ones through Steam, so the profits could have been shared more equally - and Supergiant could have even scored a bigger cut of Bastion's sales. To date the game's shifted over 350,000 copies on Steam and Xbox Live, and the soundtrack album's sold a whopping 30,000 copies - both of which will undoubtedly feed into Supergiant's next title.
Supergiant is keen to hold onto the Bastion IP, though, stating that as soon as a publisher owns your IP they seem more than happy to just sit on it and watch the bucks roll in rather than invest in making a follow-up. "A lot of times, if you give up your IP, the publishers aren't willing to do anything else with it," he said.
Rao says it would be all too easy to follow up Bastion with a publisher-funded project, but they're going to stick to their indie guns for the time being. “You're only as good as your next game,” he said. What that next game will be is presently unknown, but don't hold your breath. “Too early to say what's next though we're sticking together and intend to press on, which is just what we wanted,” said Supergiant's writer and designer, Greg Kasavin, in a Q&A on Reddit . “We didn't announce Bastion until more than a year into its development so it'll probably be a while before we talk about anything new.”