How Q-Games got the rights from Sony to bring back the lost PS4 exclusively to the kids of tomorrow

In rare and exciting news, Kyoto-based developer Q-Games recently announced that they have won the rights to The Tomorrow Children exclusively on his 2016 PlayStation 4, which was originally published by Sony Interactive Entertainment as a free-to-play online game, but was shut down after just over a year. The deal will allow Q-Games to make the game available again for the first time since November 2017.

Now, Q-Games CEO Dylan Cuthbert has revealed his process of getting his games back from Sony, details of this unusual new deal, and some of the changes he plans to make ahead of time. The game launches for the second time in 2022.

In a new interview, Cuthbert told IGN Japan that he has asked about the possibility of a license repurchase several times over the years, starting when Allan Becker was still the director of Sony Japan Studio. Initially, he said, the response was that Q-Games would likely have to reimburse the full development costs of the original game. While this wasn’t a realistic option for Q-Games, the continued support from Tomorrow Children’s fans convinced Cuthbert to stick with it.

There were two key changes that led to the deal’s success, both of which stemmed from a decades-long relationship with veteran developer Cuthbert. First, in 2019, Double Fine veteran Greg Rice – an old friend of Cuthbert – joined SIE as Head of PlayStation Creation, becoming the company’s liaison to developers independent development.

“I said to him, ‘Well, I have this IP that was just there, so could you consider getting it back to us? Because it won’t do anything at Sony. If we re-released it then at least Sony made some royalties and we could give the game back to the fans,” Cuthbert recalls. “I asked him to start pushing, and he said he would try. But after about three months, he hit a wall, and again I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

And then the next big change. When Hermen Hulst took over as head of PlayStation Studios (formerly Worldwide Studios), Cuthbert immediately reached out to say hi. Hulst previously headed Guerrilla Games, for whom Q-Games had done some of the commemorative artwork for the Killzone series – posters featuring characters from Tomorrow’s Children (below). This is proven to be the connection that will complete the circuit.

One of the Killzone/Tomorrow Children crossover posters. (Image: Q-Games)

One of the Killzone/Tomorrow Children crossover posters. (Image: Q-Games)

Hulst’s Help

“I sent Hermen a message the day it was announced that he had taken over PlayStation Studios,” laughs Cuthbert. “It was a busy day for him, and I think he was out celebrating with [PS4 and PS5 lead system architect] Mark Cerny, because a few months later Mark told me that Hermen saw the message. Hermen told me he was going to check it out, but I thought maybe he was just being polite. But a few months later, Greg Rice reached out to say that there had been some movement at the top, and that it could happen eventually. “

From there, Cuthbert and Rice embarked on a yearlong puzzle-solving quest to track down various IP-related permissions. For example, the music composition and staging rights are held by SIEA in the United States, while voiceovers have been recorded by actors in the United Kingdom through SIEE. Much of the copyright is held by SIEJA in Japan, but many of the Sony employees who originally worked on the game have moved on, which means many details have to be tracked down from scratch. Additionally, there were third-party software licenses related to things like animation systems and sound systems, all of which need to be traced back to be able to sign a new waiver.

“NaturalMotion, the company that created the animation system, has been acquired by Zynga, so now I have to find a way to contact Zynga CTO to request a waiver allowing us to use the animation system.” Cuthbert told IGN Japan. “It’s not as simple as just getting the rights to the IP – having all these moving parts under the hood. It’s like detective work, but we’ve managed to track all of these people down and get the necessary immunity to continue the transfer. “

“It’s like detective work, but we’ve managed to track all of these people.”

One of the final pieces to be laid was the rights to the voice recordings. Recording sessions were held at Pinewood Studios in the UK, but Cuthbert discovered that there were no records of who worked on them. Fortunately, Cuthbert was personally involved in directing the sessions and could find a session manager (who had moved on to a new job) on LinkedIn for the missing information. “It took a long time, but it was exciting to see the pieces come together,” Cuthbert said.

Without these necessary steps, Q-Games could be faced with the task of recreating music, voice recordings or any other unsafe factors from scratch.

With all the detective work done, it was simply a case of agreeing on royalties and other contract details with the SIE. Cuthbert said, “Sony gave us a reasonable deal that would encourage us to re-release the work, while also providing Sony with some income. So now everyone is happy.

“Sony deserves the royalties – they were there during four or five years of development and they helped define the vision,” said Cuthbert, adding that the team at SIE also helped Q-Games found such major collaborators as composer Joel Corelitz, whose other credits include music for Halo Infinite and Death Stranding. As anyone who has listened to the game’s haunting and catchy soundtrack will attest, this is no small addition.

Turn Old into New

A new version of The Tomorrow Children is scheduled for release around 2022, published directly by Q-Games on PlayStation 4, with backward compatibility for PS5. Other platforms could follow – Cuthbert said there’s no contractual obligation to keep being a PlayStation exclusive title, so the only roadblocks are the additional work and resources needed to make it. move it.

To distinguish the new version from the old, Cuthbert said he is considering adding “Director’s Cut”-style subtitles to the name, although nothing has been decided yet.

Players of the original game won’t be able to transfer their saved data, as privacy laws make this impossible, but as it will somehow be a new experience, Cuthbert feels it’s okay to let players catch It makes perfect sense to start over.

Cuthbert also discussed the changes he plans to make to The Tomorrow Children’s gameplay ahead of its new release. Cuthbert was a master programmer who famously had a 3D game engine running on the Game Boy in the late 1980s, earning him a job working with Nintendo on Star Fox. He was also a lead programmer on the original version of The Tomorrow Children, and he’s currently working on the new iteration himself – a process he describes as “fixing” the game.

Originally, The Tomorrow Children was released as a free-to-play game with microtransactions, a business model that was more than half-decided in development, in line with SIE’s strategy at the time. (The Tomorrow Children came out shortly after a similar event in 2014- Fated free to play SIE Japan Studio title, Destiny of Spirits).

When it returns, Tomorrow’s Children will be a regular high-end purchase, with microtransactions stripped out – in keeping with how it was originally conceived.

“In the game, there’s a black market, that’s where our money is,” explains Cuthbert. “That was originally in the game, but it’s not something that’s free to play. The game simulates Marxist society and capitalist society, so the black market is just an option of Capitalism, to show how those two systems can work together. any. You can get a sense of altruism by pursuing the Marxist way of thinking, where it’s all for one, and then you’re on the black market, where you get the technology you pay for. Therefore, it really works well when the black market is monetized with real money according to the game’s lore. But it wasn’t originally designed for that. ”

The black market will use in-game currency in the new version of The Tomorrow Children, instead of real money, allowing Q-Games to rebalance the feature and improve the game’s progress curve.

Since the monetization element is intended to cover the running server costs of the original game, the new version will be hosted peer-to-peer without relying on a central server. A key advantage of this change is that the game is less likely to show up as unplayable as the current original version, as players will be able to host the game as long as the PlayStation Network lives on.

“I’d love to see a modern remake of Jumping Flash or Ape Escape – all sorts of titles.”

Other changes are being made based on feedback from existing fans of the game, as well as the internal gameplay. “We have a great interest in looking back, as well as a large base of fans who played it for a year, so we could ask what they thought,” Cuthbert said. It will also include some brand new content, though the details are still a secret.

Tomorrow Children is one of the only games to use ray tracing on PS4, and the advanced tech support and very strong art direction mean it still looks outstanding next to modern games. In addition, its loose social elements were very archaic, reflected later in games such as Death Stranding and now perceived “thread” games, along with the need The enhanced online co-op bridge, The Tomorrow Children’s drop-in use, drop-in live collaboration make it seem very relevant for the modern age. “I hope we can bring the game to the fans soon and maybe even reach some new fans,” Cuthbert told us.

Cuthbert said he hopes that the success of acquiring his game rights from SIE is a sign of a new openness at Sony. While Sega has been flexible in allowing games like Rez to be returned to their creators, or for games like Streets of Rage to be produced by smaller studios, just as Bandai Namco and Konami have placed ancient IPs Their dictionary was in the hands of independent developers long ago. Over time, Sony has earned a reputation as the guardian of its games, keeping franchises dormant for years or even decades.

“I want to see a modern remake of Jumping Flash or Ape Escape — all sorts of titles,” Cuthbert said. Perhaps his persistence with the acquisition of The Tomorrow Children will pave the way for other creators to make similar deals with SIE.

Fans interested in keeping up to date with the development of The Tomorrow Children can sign up for the biweekly newsletter. here, available in multiple languages.

Daniel Robson is the Chief Editor of IGN Japan. For full disclosure, he worked at SIE Japan Studio while The Tomorrow Children was in development, but did not directly work on the creation of the project. He is also a fan of the game. Follow him on Twitter here. How Q-Games got the rights from Sony to bring back the lost PS4 exclusively to the kids of tomorrow


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