Play NYC 2018 had over a hundred developers and nearly twice as many games. Rupie was a company that I was particularly keen on talking to, if only for the fact that they apparently sponsored fifteen booths for indie developers out of their own pocket. I had never heard of the company before I set foot in the Manhattan Center, but boy did they know how to make a splash.
The premise behind Rupie is simple. Citing a gamesindustry.biz article, Rupie states that more than 75% of Kickstarter and Early Access games will never make it all the way to completion. Their vision is to create a platform that will help developers work smarter in a number of ways. Check out this Introduction Video to get an idea of what Rupie is all about:
I had the opportunity to speak with Rupie CEO Austin Anderson at Play NYC. I wanted to find out more about what exactly Rupie was and what they sought to do in the gaming industry. The general feel I got was that it's meant to be a sort of community for developers to find work, collaborate on projects, or buy assets and—perhaps most importantly of all—actually get compensated properly. A number of systems are being built into the site like milestones and royalty systems. An "attribution layer" will help them keep track of who owns how much of what and pay out royalties accordingly to people within the Rupie ecosystem.
There is one critical issue centered on this entire platform: how exactly are they going to enforce their revenue share system? Well, publishing games for sale on their own internal system is certainly one possibility. However, Rupie is new on the block and doesn't have anywhere near the market share of long-established stores like Steam, Itch.io, GOG, and the like. They are in talks with the various modern platforms to find a way to integrate Rupie into their digital distribution fronts, but that's far from the only option available to them.
Another possibility that arose in our conversation was for this company to act as the publisher, take in 100% of the revenue, and then dole it out to everyone appropriately through their internal system, including a tiny cut for themselves. "Our entire movement and motive is to help indies and AA access the resources they need," said Rupie's CEO Austin Anderson. If Valve, Microsoft, and the like aren't keen on partnering with Rupie, they can just act as a traditional publisher and take care of everything else they plan to do via their website.
They aren't looking to take a mighty chunk of people's money, either. Rupie will take around a 2-3% cut around the alpha phase of their site and somewhere around 5% once it's further along in development. A lot of features are still a ways off; the final item on their public roadmap will be deployed sometime around the second quarter of 2019.
I can't recall how many developers I've spoken with that have talked about the issues they have with finding talent to work on their games. Whether it's the legal headaches of contract work, dealing out royalties or equity shares, or simply finding good people in the first place, modern indie game developers have a lot of challenges to face and not a lot of convenient ways to get them done. Rupie seems set on bottling up solutions to these problems into one convenient platform. We'll have to wait and see if they can actually pull it off, but my conversation with Mr. Anderson makes me believe that Rupie is on the right track.
You can read more about what's in the cards for Rupie and sign up for the beta by heading over to their official website.
What do you think of Rupie? Do you think a service like this is useful to the gaming industry or should developers be able to manage equity shares, royalty splits, and work contracts on their own? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2018 Coverage Hub.