Bannerlord was a grift

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This is a thread going into more detail on a post I made last month here.

I will avoid the usage of the word "scam" as that could be seen as disingenuous and possibly libelous, even though as I will outline below, the figures are roughly correct, and it isn't libel if its true. Nevertheless, I'm going to lay forth a claim that Bannerlord, at least in its current state (And, as far as we know, the past few years) was simply a grift. Here's why:

Part 1. The Financial Breakdown

There will be bold in statements which are amendments to my previous post, or things needed to be added.

The average game developer in Istanbul (similar to Ankara) makes about 60 Turkish Lira an hour, which equates to about 7.05 USD, with an average pay of 125,000 Lira per year (about 14,500 USD). There are 131 employees at Taleworlds as of 2020. Therefore, the employee pay would be roughly 1,899,500 USD, probably a little less or more based on currency exchanges. I am not sure about Turkish tax law, but assuming their payroll taxes are roughly the same as the US, lets say 10%, rounding up lets say 2,200,000 for payroll and payroll taxes per year. Overhead is somewhat difficult to calculate, but I would put their facility costs (With electricity, which is cheap in Turkey) is probably around 5,000 a month, that is just a rough estimate based on how many employees they have and how much square footage they would need. So, overhead would be roughly 60,000 USD a year. To be conservative and account for accidents/miscellaneous expenses, lets put their expenses aside from marketing at roughly 2.5 million USD.

Bannerlord has sold between 3-5 million copies, according to steamdb and steamspy. At an average price of $45 (it depends on region, some places sell for less, some like pound and euro sell for more), after Steam's 30% cut, this leaves Taleworlds with roughly $31.50 for each sale. To be conservative, let's put it down to $30. With roughly 4 million sales, Taleworlds has made roughly $120 million in revenue from Bannerlord. Bannerlord has been in development since 2012 as far as we know, lets give them 2 years pre-announcement of development, which equals 11 years. Assuming 100% of their time at Taleworlds was devoted to Bannerlord (which it wasn't, warband was still in development well during this time period), this means that 27.5 million dollars was spent in expenses, lets double that for marketing. This expense of 55 million yielded them 120,000,000, which, with much wiggle room, cushions and conservative estimates, 65 million dollars (likely more because I doubt taleworlds spent that much in marketing, and salaries are probably less than I calculated, could be as much as 100 million USD). I may have gotten some calculations wrong along the way, and I may have estimated poorly, but no matter what, that is a lot of profit for the garbage can/excuse for a game that we got.

Part 2. Gameplay Features, or lack thereof

The gameplay of this "game" is, to put it lightly, lacking. There are more than enough threads to complain about the bare-bones, hollowness of the game. I am not a singleplayer player, I like multiplayer. The lack of multiplayer support for this game is at this point astounding and legendary. The fact that modders for various projects are simply waiting on Taleworlds to just let them get their hands on it so they can improve the game for everyone's enjoyment is beyond me. It is so snail-brained and what few "Explanations" taleworlds has given are vague and meaningless. They use a lot of words to say nothing.

The recent patches to the game have improved almost nothing, and the dev diaries show us no hope. With feature after feature being cancelled or postponed, it seems like Taleworlds is just doing nothing while goading us to trust them, holding a carrot in front of our eyes. Not even heraldry can be fixed.

tenor.gif


Part 3. Bannerlord Online

The lack of support for the Bannerlord Online mod, made by one random Russian guy in a basement, an absolutely gorgeous mod with so much ambition and potential, but most importantly what the fans wanted. The ambivalence towards it by Taleworlds shows, after years of people begging for co-op campaign somewhat proves that Taleworlds doesn't give a damn what their fans want or think. This is the most egregious example, but there are more. Gone are the days of improving upon mods like Mount and Musket, in with the days of "WE KNOW BEST **** OFF MODDERS!"

Part 4. Time

Bannerlord took forever to release and it is still in early access. You would think that a game with more time being tacked on to development would be better, not worse. But here we are, 11 years later, with nothing to show for it. What were they doing all that time? Twiddling their thumbs?

Conclusion: Bannerlord was a Grift
With all this being said, I think it is safe to include that, while perhaps Taleworlds intentions when they first developed Bannerlord wanted to make a better game, the idea of grandeur and money probably got the best of them. It's hard to exactly pinpoint when Taleworlds decided that money was more important than keeping fans happy, but I would wager around 2015-2016 was when the idea of an excellent game was thrown out the window in favor of cash. Do you agree?
 
It's hard to exactly pinpoint when Taleworlds decided that money was more important than keeping fans happy, but I would wager around 2015-2016 was when the idea of an excellent game was thrown out the window in favor of cash. Do you agree?
I think this is an excellent guess, too bad we know too little to make better guesses or actually know how important decisions were made.
Looking at Taleworlds and Bannerlord strictly by results, it's only obvious there is a failure of management, specifically with planning and oversight.
But you are probably right that the time they decided they won't be making a great game, but cash in on the franchise is probably soon after the 2016 "release" fiasco.
 

Rungsted93

Sergeant at Arms
WBWF&SVC
Hard to disagree with anything you wrote. Btw Steam only takes a 20% cut once a game hit certain thresholds (which Bannerlord has with millions of sales)

Edit: And yeah I used to believe TW said they scrapped the co-op campaign because "couldn't find a way to make it fun", but now I think it's just due to them being lazy and removing anything slightly complicated.
 

froggyluv

Grandmaster Knight
NW
Shamefully have to agree and it pains me to say it. Whatever vision was once held for the heralded sequel of the greatest medieval game of all time was definitely sold us out potential cash grab became they’re primary objective. I held out against TW bashing for a long while - thinking, hoping they were still planning to really rectify the numerous game issues - that they simply needed more time to bring them into fruition. But again and again Mexico went the the Committee of Nay and they shut down even simple QOL improvements for really no good reasons at all just “nah”

It’s clear they don’t care if the once very high esteem the community once held them in suffers as long as they get dat payday.
Good luck on future titles TW - you won’t have your loyal base behind you and I hope the gaming media rake your future promise over the coals of truth telling
 
It’s clear they don’t care if the once very high esteem the community once held them in suffers as long as they get dat payday.
Good luck on future titles TW - you won’t have your loyal base behind you and I hope the gaming media rake your future promise over the coals of truth telling
Do you think that their reputation or trust can be salvaged in any way, shape or form? Additionally, if (and that is a big IF) a good taleworlds game comes out in the future, and you want to buy it, I think it would be best to buy it from a third party (such as g2a) so that they don't get money from the sale, but rather someone else does. This would be a good way to "punish" them; people who claim that you need to pay money to support a company so that they can put out good content is disproved by my calculations. Perhaps we can create our own little thing to apply in certain situations of grifting. Without further ado, I present Bannerlord's Law: The greater the profit, the worse the content.
 

WhyAmIHere

I would greatly enjoy seeing the "TW can do no wrong" bootlickers on the subreddit twist themselves into pretzels to explain away this ****.
 
I wonder who will thinks the title says gift and have a very confusing time trying to understand the topic.
🤡 🍿

I hope we learn the details someday about the exact set backs or management problems they had. It's clear something stunted progress in 2018 or about and it got shifted into what we've got. One year they were showing off the castle/village building so proudly, then the next...."it's capture the flag but they're knight n stuff" MP content was the focus and castles got cut.

Perhaps they had a serious set back, realized it would take years to finish the game and decided to get something into EA before hype dwindles completely.
Or yeah maybe they were gonna run out of money too, idduno. I bought warband like 3 times lol
 

vonbalt

Sergeant Knight
WBNWVCM&B
Or yeah maybe they were gonna run out of money too, idduno. I bought warband like 3 times lol
I must have brought warband and classic some 8-10 times, first to myself and then as gifts to friends while highly praising the series and devs responsible for it.

I've bought one of bannerlord and didn't recommend it to anyone, a few friends asked and i said "give it time, it's still in EA but the potential is there", this was like a year ago or so, right now my answer would be completely different..
 

Rungsted93

Sergeant at Arms
WBWF&SVC
Perhaps they had a serious set back, realized it would take years to finish the game and decided to get something into EA before hype dwindles completely.
Or yeah maybe they were gonna run out of money too, idduno. I bought warband like 3 times lol
I think we all understand setbacks can happen (obviously a ton of them happened given the long development time). But then they can keep the game in EA for 3-4+ years if that means we get the game we were promised, they clearly have the funding for it.
 
I just bought Bannerlord a few days ago and apparently at a bad time for performance as my laptop is not very good. Also lurking in this new forum for a few days mainly for guides and fixes to my performance issues but i noticed the frustration of course. What i want to add to the discussion is i get that development needs a huge acceleration and idk why this hasn't happened yet. But about your financial calculations the costs are definetly much higher although it is still not explanatory imo. In Turkey employers also pay for the health insurance and the pension so that part is 1.5-2x higher also tax is much higher they should pay %18 for every item sold except other fixed taxes for the corporations. That said, i believe they should be able to get some incentives from the government but idk anything about the scale of it.
To me, Mount&Blade series has two core things the concept(campaign and being able to play battles) and the combat gameplay which are very strong. So my logic dictates that this is a gold mine that one should capitalize with long-term projects not with hit and run tactics. My reasoning for the lack of speed and quality in the game development atm is that TW couldn't handle the expansion of their company both at financial and organizational levels and possibly they were hit by coronavirus stuff hard on top of that.
I imagine a lot of guys here are devoted modders and supporters of the game for years cuz that was the situation when i followed the old forums aand you are probably right with a lot of your critiques as i really haven't been following the phase so far. Just wanted to add my opinion as i hope the game will take a good momentum in a short time
 

JimmyCakes

Regular
What do we know about the owners of TaleWorlds? Were any new directors brought on board? Are they partnered with other companies ?
 
Bannerlord is nothing more than a tragedy. Ego, pride, and money are TW's priorities, which is a shame because I'm more than certain there is an abundance of talent on the dev team, all hampered by crappy game design decisions.
 

vonbalt

Sergeant Knight
WBNWVCM&B
What do we know about the owners of TaleWorlds? Were any new directors brought on board? Are they partnered with other companies ?
2 people made the first M&B (Armagan and his wife), i believe TW had around 30 employees by the time of warband and then expanded to around 100 for bannerlord.

They had paradox as publisher but ended the deal in 2014 which seemed great at the time (no publisher = no rush to release and be able to focus on making a quality game), everything was looking great and we were supposed to get the game in 2016.

Something internally happened around that time that we can only speculate but based on the glassdoor reviews from ex employees (too many reliance on interns, problems with management and communication between teams to name a few) i believe they went through a bad phase of dev-hell and had to scrap their ambitions entirely so the game would see the light of day.
 
What do we know about the owners of TaleWorlds? Were any new directors brought on board? Are they partnered with other companies ?
We know it's not a family business and there are several owners, as hinted in Glassdoor reviews.
Someone has to search a Turkish business registry for Ikisoft (=Taleworlds) and find if the owners are listed there.
 
I must have brought warband and classic some 8-10 times, first to myself and then as gifts to friends while highly praising the series and devs responsible for it.

I've bought one of bannerlord and didn't recommend it to anyone, a few friends asked and i said "give it time, it's still in EA but the potential is there", this was like a year ago or so, right now my answer would be completely different..
Yeah me too. It's always a great gift! I can't recommend BL either it in its current state, unless someone had already played warband a million times and really wants to see the EA for themselves. I'll withhold actual reviews or rating until the dust is settled though.

I think we all understand setbacks can happen (obviously a ton of them happened given the long development time). But then they can keep the game in EA for 3-4+ years if that means we get the game we were promised, they clearly have the funding for it.
I'm still hoping when they get a stable version done they could revisit some of the scrapped features or popular requests. Feels less likely as time goes on since it would go a long way for TW to just say "after X and Y we will work on A then maybe B and C after." Of course they might really not know what they'll be able to add and not want to make more false expectations. Or they could just want to wrap it up and move on, which is disappointing if so.

Bannerlord needs a few more quality things for the player to do for it be recommended over "play warband again". Right now the heir system and executions are the only things fully new: Armies instead of marshal, voting instead of king's choice for example are just alt mechanics from warband, not something truly new. And the heir system is juts another function similar to random generated wanderer's. It's just more underpowered clan members to slowly train up, it's not something to play the game for.
 

yangot

Regular
All this suffering and grief from earlier access players will be forgotten once the game was fully released and reached it full potential. It may takes a year or 10 years but profits and new players will come, old players will return.
 

Rbtparker13

Regular
All this suffering and grief from earlier access players will be forgotten once the game was fully released and reached it full potential. It may takes a year or 10 years but profits and new players will come, old players will return.
Or Taleworld releases it as is and go to their next game. Either way really.

And sure they do have "unlimited" time but the game industry is a fast pace type of industry. The face that this took so long already is just ridiculous. At this rate, if they do finish this game in 10 years or whatever. Bannerlord will probably have been forgotten.

In fact the only reason Bannerlord is still being played is probably due to the fact that there are no competitors for this type of game.
 
All this suffering and grief from earlier access players will be forgotten once the game was fully released and reached it full potential. It may takes a year or 10 years but profits and new players will come, old players will return.
No, most issues will remain in the released game. But everyone will suffer from silly posts - you are just making this worse with wishful thinking.
 

yangot

Regular
And sure they do have "unlimited" time but the game industry is a fast pace type of industry. The face that this took so long already is just ridiculous. At this rate, if they do finish this game in 10 years or whatever. Bannerlord will probably have been forgotten.

In fact the only reason Bannerlord is still being played is probably due to the fact that there are no competitors for this type of game.
A new competition for this kind of game is definitely a good thing, we either get a new option or it will push TW to do better at their job.

No, most issues will remain in the released game. But everyone will suffer from silly posts - you are just making this worse with wishful thinking.
Did you just travel from future to make a guess like that? :grin:
 
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