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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

~Where The Money Is

Where The Money Is

I just got off the phone with a guy named Eyal. He works at a company in Tel Aviv that makes iPhone games. He's expressed interest in The Perfect Color. He said I'd need to pay somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000 dollars for them to develop it as an iPhone application, market it and sell it. How much of the money from sales goes to me (and Kyler, by extension), I don't know. But it would need to be pretty darn high to justify that. Holy heck, that's a lot of money.

How did I get myself into this scary situation? Well, that's a long and funny story, filled with twists and turns and shocking coincidences. No, I'm just kidding, it's not any of those things. But that would be a really cool intro to a story, don't you think? No, it's actually really simple: my father saw an ad.

I haven't talked about my father much on this blog. He's a practical kind of guy, he holds our shul and our community together, he's a reliable doctor. And I know that under all that, he's actually kind of weird. When we lived in America, he taped lots of science fiction shows like Babylon 5 and Star Trek and Earth 2. These days the only TV show he has the time to watch is The Amazing Race. He watches that every Saturday night with my mother. You should see him when he gets the opportunity to talk about that show. He just goes on and on. If you only saw him then, you'd think he had Asperger's Syndrome. That's how much enthusiasm he has for things he likes. He enjoys simple things: biking to work, Sudoku puzzles. Sometimes I feel like out of my whole family, he's the only one I can recognize as being related to me. But then he goes and acts all productive, and that feeling goes away.

He said to me a while back that his only regret in the way he raised me is that I should have been put in a school where I'd learn physics. He's right- I probably would have enjoyed physics. And he's always tried to get me to learn that. He's a real purveyor of silliness sometimes. It might surprise you to hear me speaking so positively of my father, given what I said earlier. But he hasn't done the whole discipline thing since I got out of high school. I guess he thinks I've grown up already. (Heh heh.)

A few months ago we were having dinner with some friends of the family (a Russian-American couple and their daughter) from America. (Dinner was terrible, by the way. Don't go to the restaurant Noyah in Jerusalem.) And the topic of my gamism came up. This friend of the family, he said that he's heard that iPhone games are big business now. My father was at that table.

So when he saw an ad (in Hebrew) looking for developers who'd like to make iPhone games, he pushed me to get in touch with them.

On reflection, that whole story could have been one sentence long. Sorry about that. Here, let me clean up the post a bit.
my father saw an ad (in Hebrew) looking for developers who'd like to make iPhone games, and he pushed me to get in touch with them.

So somehow I found myself on the phone with this Eyal guy. And that money! I don't have that kind of money. I could try to dig into savings for that, but I dunno. The point of that is to make money, right? I'm not so interested in that. I'd prefer to work out a deal where they pay me (and by extension, Kyler) for the code, and then they keep the sales money themselves. My interest is to have as many people as possible play the game. This company can do that. But this could be dangerous. I don't know how much I trust a bunch of guys out to make a buck. Not just in terms of the money, which as I said I'd like to try to wriggle out of anyway. But the game, do I really trust these guys with the game? This is the best thing I've ever done in my life, and they could mutilate it so badly, if they didn't know what they were doing...

Eyal said to me that he thinks it could use some 3D graphics, to better sell it. This is the sort of business we're talking about. I said to him that that's not necessary, and he said I might be right. He said to me that some of the games that sell big on iPhone are so simple and silly I wouldn't believe it. (I probably would. I don't think like a businessman.) So I'm off the hook with the 3D thing. But what if they try to change the ending? What if they replace the line about trying to make everyone happy with a line about how that's really not what you want at all?

They don't care about the art, I'm quite sure of that. They don't care that this is a universal statement about ideas. And that's not something I should resent, it's just something I need to understand. These people, they don't think like me. They're interested in The Perfect Color because they see an opportunity for easy money. The iPhone is going to be officially released in Israel a month from now, and they want to be the first ones out there with Hebrew-language games for it. Which my game isn't, of course, but it can easily be translated. The question is whether I can make a deal with these people. I tell you, it's scary.



Do not -- I repeat, *not* -- pay these "developers" one red cent (or agora). They want *you* to pay them to develop your game for the iPhone?! You're not an investor, you're not a businessman. To paraphrase Toy Story's Woody, "YOU - ARE - A - GEEK!"

If you're willing to give up some degree of control over your creativity in exchange for money, then by all means, sell them the concept and/or the code, for a bulk sum and/or some portion of the profits. This is your product, not the iPhone app, if and when it finally appears. You should not have to bear any of the financial risk.

You're right, of course.


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