Italian version of the interview: here
Cyberludus has collected the official statements of Daedalic Entertainment, Brawsome, Amanita Design, Colibri Games, CBE Software and bitComposer about the scandal that invested Lace Mamba Global, about the non-respect of trade agreements – payments, reports and sales in unauthorized areas – linked to several adventures. After the reply appeared on Gamasutra, the same corporate leaders have agreed to answer to our curiosities, with spokesman Sergei Klimov, Director of International Publishing at Daedalic Entertainment, and Andrew Goulding of Brawsome. Sergei told us his thoughts about the official response of Lace Mamba – Jakub Dvorský fully agrees on behalf of Amanita Design – and then he clarified the position of the German company about the whole situation that revolves around each other. Colibri Games also said their thoughts with statements of Andrey Arutyunyan.
The interview is the following.
What is the position and the reflection of Daedalic Entertainment, Amanita Design, Colibri Games and the other Companies after the official news published yesterday on Lace Mamba Global website?
Daedalic: Lace Mamba Global did not provide any response to the problems that we have outlined: the lack of truthful and complete reporting, and the missing payments on the outstanding debts for products which were sold and distributed with the logo of Lace Mamba Global on the boxes. We point out that the house is on fire and they say that the next time they will go to a supermarket, they will be certain to bring back some milk… Their letter did not offer any solution to Amanita Design, to whom their group owes considerable amount of royalties. They can not explain why Amanita Design should not expect payment for sales of Machinarium in the countries were Amanita never authorized such sales for their group. We will continue our public crusade for fair play until such things are resolved, or until the infringing company is closed by the courts of law.
Colibri: As you know from open letter we have signed agreement with LMG according this they have to close all payments and rights issues until 15Th March. Today we have received next payment from them.
In the world of the adventure, do you think that there are other Companies that don’t respect the agreements like Lace Mamba Global? Have you had other similar issues in the past?
Daedalic: There are a few companies who consider it a normal business practice not to pay to developers, or to pay with a delay, or not to pay until a termination letter is sent and an auditor is on the way to check their books. This is unfortunate and this is one of the root causes of many problems of the modern model of the games industry: the position of a publisher/distributor who is sitting on a pile of money and who is using such control over the finances to exploit the studios is absolutely destructive, and we will fight with such unfair treatment wherever we can.
Normally, two more things further complicate such issues: the first is that most of the studios are organized by creative people, people who want to develop games, not fight in courts. Therefore it is very unusual for an independent studio to have an in-house lawyer, or even an in-house full-time business person. The second is that nobody likes to be in a position of conflict, and such psychology is exploited by the unethical business people everywhere, including our industry. All of this means that when developers are tricked, or deprived of the royalties rightfully due to them, in the majority of cases they are not equipped to deal with such a situation neither from the business point of view nor from the emotional point of view.
In my particular case – that of Daedalic – we are a rare case of a studio founded not only by creative people, but also by people with extensive publishing expertise, and now that I’ve joined Daedalic’s international team, I’m ‘cleaning the stables’ in the last few weeks and sometimes I’m amazed at the things I discover. Just today I spoke with a company who owes us a few thousand Euros for distribution, and their first response was that they know nothing about such debt. When I sent them a copy of the contract and a copy of the invoice, they said: we never released your game. When I finally sent them a photo of the game being purchased in a retail shop in their country, they said: you sound aggressive, we will not talk to you, bye-bye. Most of developers whom I know would say at this point: Okay, let’s forget about this bad experience. But instead I informed this company that I give them until Monday, and if on Monday there is no update on the payment, I engage a good lawyer who works with us in their country. You would expect that after telling me “bye-bye”, the company would not even respond… but in fact, they came back immediately – after reading about the legal action – and very politely asked for 2 days to sort this payment out. In my experience, every time your studio is attacked or abused, you have to treat this like a war, and you have to fight for your studio with all the weapons available. To quote Fight Club, “I don’t want to die without any scars”.
Colibri: We have around 40 contracts with other publishers , but never had same experience.
How will this bad story influences your marketing plans?
Daedalic: Daedalic is a strong studio and we are unaffected by this story. After a week of heated email discussion, we collected the money from Lace Mamba Global, and now we are focused on helping other studios to collect their dues. As to production, the work on our current projects continues as scheduled, and we will be showing 5 games, including 2 yet unannounced, in March at GDC in San Francisco.
Colibri: At this point we have same position as Daedalic – we are unaffected by this story. I hope we will collect debts from LMG according agreement and will forget about it.
Can we say with absolute certainly that the bond between you (Companies) and Lace Mamba Global is finished forever?
Daedalic: Definitely, and I can say that not only will we avoid any contracts with them, but also that we will avoid any work with the particular people involved on their side – Jason Codd, Damian Finn, etc.
Colibri: Yes, of course. For us it was bad experience to work with publisher and I dont think that we would like to repeat it again.
Our community is very disappointed about this bad way to treat the developers. Are you afraid that this will discourage the youngest developers?
Daedalic: I like to think that this story will vaccinate younger developers from signing up with publishers without checking their reputation first, and this is a good thing, a practice which will make them stronger. I can say this for Daedalic – if any developer ever needs a reference on any of the companies we’ve dealt with in the past, please feel free to inquire. The same is probably true for any independent developer because we definitely feel that we’re on the same side and we’re all willing to help each other to avoid making the mistakes wherever this can be avoided. We would like to be in an industry with many strong creative teams who produce exciting original titles. If Daedalic can help by sharing business experience, then this is something that we will always do.
Colibri: Colibri Games was young developer with first title The Tiny Bang Story when have contracted with LMG, for us was very important that Amanita and Daedalic worked with LMG and we trusted to their bussines experience. But neither they or we did not guess with partner. Now we have some experience and open for advice to youngest developer!
Even CBE Software summed up their situation with a statement of Jan Kavan:
We’re currently waiting for our “corrected” royalty report as the provided ones was full of blatant errors. I have promised a corrected report and if LMG fails to provide us with one up till next wednesday, I’ll be again coming public with a new story that even if we TRIED to settle things peacefully, LMG had failed to give us correct data and ultimately proving that they don’t mean sincerely their statements.
Our situation is simple – we got paid our advance fees invoice (which so so covered the legal expenses for a termination letter) and we are waiting to receive royalty report for the period March 2012 – January 2013 (which is the period when LMG sold J.U.L.I.A.). Then we will know if they pay or not…
Finally, the official statement of bitComposer, issued by Wolfgang Duhr.
I can confirm we have the similar issues with the original company Mamba Games. When we have started our company in 2009, Mamba was one of the first partners we have signed up some rights for the products: Outcry, Scorpion and Void in several territories. Once masters have been submitted to Mamba, remaining payments have not been paid and we never received any royaltyreports. We were trying to contact Mamba Games without any success. We therefore applied for an official “European Payment Order” from court, which we also recieved. After the announcement that Mamba Games and Lace Group formed a new company named Lace Mamba Global, we have tried to contact LMG but never got a response, although they actively sell our products under their label. Since business for bitComposer went very well due to other successful projects, we have decided to focus on real business and contracted an external company to get the payment, without success so far, since structure between Mamba, Lace Mamba and Lace Group seems to be very unclear and does not reflect the original press release issued by MAMBA / Lace. After the open letter, we have now decided to support the case not only on the PR side but also on the expense side for legal to strengthen the position of all the other developers. However we still hope that Lace Mamba is willing to solve the situation after their recent statement without any more actions needed.
Underneath the press release which can be still found at LinkedIn Profiles and was send out to several medias.
About LACE Mamba GLOBAL
Mamba Games are excited to announce that they have formed a partnership with the UK’s leading DVD distribution company Lace Group (DVD and game publishing, sales and distribution business) to create a multi global video games publishing company.
The new company, trading as Lace Mamba Global (LMG), will combine all areas of expertise including acquisition, product development, in-house development, UK and global sales/distribution, marketing and PR. All global sales will be handled in-house along with games acquisitions and marketing. The adventure brand Odyssia will fall under the LMG umbrella and the group will continue to drive forward and bring high level and highly anticipated adventure games to the market.
Lace Mamba Group head office will be based in Brighton East Sussex with already established offices in London, LA and Paris.
The formation of the new company signals the ambition of the new group to accelerate the move into the next generation market with development already in progress on the Xbox360 console and discussions with various development houses in progress for Playstation 3.
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