As a writer, there is nothing more frustrating than the recent trending of putting out full novels in the Kindle and Amazon stores with a price of 0 dollars. It completely devalues the months and years of someone’s hard work when you give the end product for free, simply to try to gain an audience and sell your next book or sequel.
It truly is no different for the IFComp. No, interactive fiction won’t ever be commercially viable but when you get the best of the best of the IFComp all for free, it pretty much guarantees most anyone else from making a few dollars for their effort unless you are one of the few elite authors with a name. Yet, there are choice games on platforms selling stories and taking in revenue with their own sites and on Itch and Steam.
I’m going to pick on Prince Quisborne from the IFComp. It is a seriously large game and generally well-received. The first-time author must have spent years bringing his labor of love to fruition. But I’m sure he had his moment of - could I self-publish this? or do I submit it to the Comp and never make a dime? But I’ll get feedback and some positive buzz. It seems like the choice always has to be one or the other.
What if the IFComp acted as a publisher and the commercial brand of interactive fiction? The competition would be the submission points and the judging period would be the agenting process. Then the most marketable of the submissions could be published with both the IFComp and the game authors getting a percentage of the revenue.
Under a single brand, the IFComp could be the new modern-day Infocom, maybe not taking in large revenues, but now there is a name and credibility most single game author could never achieve alone. A win-win.
Now the IFComp would still be free to play (during the comp), but those entries with potential are then polished, updated, bugs patched, packaged and published in a storefront for say, between $1.99 and 4.99.
The IFTF wants viable projects to fund. Make the Comp more relevant than ever. Create a brand. Be a publisher and a marketer. Build a presence to the larger gaming world and offer writers & designers a path toward potential reward for their hard work