In response to a lot of confusion regarding AJ Tilley’s decision to split his company into two entities they released a more detailed list of what to expect with this change. And, honestly, I’m as confused about why they did this as I was when I first heard the news. I fully understand that they wanted to make one arm as the publisher and another as the developer. After all, it’s not unheard of for a company to do this. Hell, I interned at one that went this route.
What I don’t understand is why AJ Tilley is distancing himself from the publishing branch, which remains as AJTilley.com. It’s stated in the release that he’s focusing almost entirely on Dharker Studios, the development arm, as he “felt his path lay more with game development than with publishing”. Even the head of the game company that I worked for worked with both the publishing and developing arm when they did this. So, why make this move to begin with? After all, it’s not like his name’s not attached to it, right? Honestly, this seems like a shady move to me, especially with his past track record.
So, what exactly does this mean to existing projects? Not a whole lot, actually. If I understand the release correctly, the only major changes are with which entity each one belongs. It appears that the majority of currently released or in development titles will stay with AJTilley.com, with Dharker Studios’ main focus being on pushing out Echo Tokyo. The full list of who owns what and why can be found in the link.
Basically up until now AJTilley.com had an in-house team of developers with the aid of third party companies, contractors, essentially AJTilley.com would promote a game, fund a game or seek crowdfunding for a game. Then hire freelancers to augment their in-house team for further development based on the level of success of the funding process.
Based on all of this information, along with what we know about AJ Tilley, I still have yet to see the overall benefit of this move. Especially this late in the game. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that he’s trying to distance himself from the controversies surrounding each decision he made via crowdfunding, washing his hands of the whole ordeal. On the other hand, this could be a smart move to let someone else make the hard decisions while he focuses on just developing the games at Dharker Studios. As I said when I broke this news, only time will tell how this all pans out.
The final major pieces of news in the release was something that should have been done a long time ago. Namely focusing on one or two titles at a time. Once all of the currently outstanding titles (which, admittedly, is a lot) are completely finished and released the plan going forward is to limit the focus instead of spreading themselves thin with multiple titles. Why they didn’t do this before astounds me.
As a side note, and I honestly find this hard to believe, the use of crowdfunding will be severely curtailed. At least until all projects are finished. The Patreon for the art will continue, although for some reason the last time I checked the link I couldn’t find it anywhere. I had chalked it all up to another decision to cancel a campaign, like so many other times. Forgive me for being blunt, but until I see these promises followed through I’ll take this news with a grain of salt.