If you want to make a game that requires the skills of others but you don’t have any dosh you’ve no doubt had the thought of waiting until the game is released, generating sales and then using this to pay people after the fact. I don’t like this method for 3 reasons.

1. If people make the game and it fails to sell you have to live with the fact that those who helped you get nothing. Sure – you can tell yourself they knew the risks but still – I don’t like it.

2. Every project has its rough patches; and people experience highs and lows. It’s during these low periods when people drift off and lose interest. If you have a large group working together they can provide moral support and help others ride out the rough times. Worse case scenario is a small group working from home who you only keep in contact with via email and Skype – not impossible but certainly harder – and the more ambitious the project the greater the chances of failure.

Now – money doesn’t solve the problem of projects failing – but in some/most cases the pay at the end of the current milestone/month can make the difference between persevering and taking an early bath.

Anyway – the reason I touched on the subject of rewarding a percentage based on sales is because of this post by Seth Godin. What if you said to someone at the start of the project “you get half the money earned if you do all the art.” What if the game gets made and goes on to be the next Angry Birds? Would you honour the original offer? Or would you get nervous and start thinking “well, half of a gajillion dollars is too much for what he did – I’ll give the guy a hundred grand as that will still be more that what he ever thought he’d get.”

I’d tell you what I’d do – but I’ve not been in this position before so I don’t know how I’d react. But this is reason three for me not using the ‘sales-before-payment’ pitch.

3. What if I bottled it, got greedy and thought “fuck it – I’ll move to tropical resort, disconnect from my previous life, friends and society and live the rest of my days in luxury. A bottle of whiskey a day keeps the conscience at bay!”? I’d like to say I wouldn’t. But I just might!