People, I can see, keep thinking that the issue is to develop independence for a company. That is where I disagree. I think independence is fine, but I want it all the way. I want independence for an actual game designer, not just a company. Independence for the leads.
Honestly, the way I talk is more publisher-friendly than people think. To me, the game company is just a vehicle to make a game.
So far as owning IP, in the current model a development company owns the IP. But what about the value of a name? What exactly is a company? You build this company and you own the IP through the company. What if you want to leave the company? What if you get into an argument with your partner because you want to make Game X and he wants to make Game Y, so your company breaks up? What if the company boxes itself into making only zombie horror games (for example)? Say you leave it, but you own 20% of it, but 5 years later somebody takes control of it and sells its IP to a publisher for a dollar? Then where are you?
See, being part-owner of a company can become a prison if you want to follow your creativity to its farthest ends. You get typecast. You get stuck doing all this company management gobbledygook that is secondary to what you really need to be doing - which is your creative work.
The only entity I know that can really, soundly and stably, own something is a person. That means a name. See, all I want to do is give my own name value. How? Submitting design documents to a game publisher, have us build a temporary company for the duration of production (with other key leads who are just as important as the designer - using the core team/outsourcing model), making the game, letting the publisher get it out there, and then letting myself build a name. And getting that damn name on the box!
And, honestly, the ultimate objective here isn't to own the IP - it's to build a name so valuable that it can command a share of the gross revenues. Or, if the core designer is a newbie, he can command just a basic going-rate up front fee, but, if the game becomes a hit, a piece of the budget for each sequel, a piece of the budget of any movie version, a fee if it gets turned into a novel, and so on. So if Game Designer Bob, Lead Programmer Frank, Art Director Jay, Lead Audio Designer Sam together make a game - a game that is built using their outsourcing companies - at the end of the day Bob, Frank, Jay and Sam get a split of the gross revenue and a piece of the budget for any sequels, and other ancillary spin-offs. And they get their names on the box!
I mean, if you, as a person, are getting a piece of gross revenue, that is stable income (as long as the game sells; as long as its sequels sell; as long as it lives as a franchise).
I know one guy who designed a game for Avalon Hill years back. As you know, Avalon Hill's library was sold to Hasbro at fire sale prices. Hasbro recently released a remake of his game - same game, better components (plastic pieces and so on) - under the "Avalon Hill" name (that's all AH is now: a brand; a *name*). I asked him if he got a piece for that. He glumly said he didn't. But it was his game! He designed it! It was good enough that it was remade - but he got nothing for that. That's wrong.
I'm not saying any noob developer is going to get a piece of gross revenue. But I *will* say that as long as developers are effectively rendered anonymous they will *never* get that. They will be slaves.
So maybe you don't think a name is worth anything. I do. I just want the industry to give the individuals a chance to build their names.
(This post from a flame war I've been in at IGDA...)