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W4 Games raised $8.5 million USD to support Godot Engine

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W4 Games is a new company from the creator of Godot Engine along with long-time contributors, and now they've managed to gain plenty of funding.

As a brief reminder, the idea of the new company was to provide commercial products and services like support plans and access to more restricted markets (like consoles) and generally support Godot Engine development. So all improvements made as part of W4 Games will go into Godot directly whenever possible.

In a new blog post, they've announced $8.5 million dollars from a "seed funding investment round" (a first ever round of funding for a company) led by OSS Capita, which is so far the world's only investor platform targeting commercial open source and LUX Capital who specialize in funding science and technology ventures. They also had help from the founder of Red Hat and Sisu Game Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on games.

They said that the funds will "be used to expand W4 Games’ core team and accelerate the development of a suite of products and services for the Godot ecosystem, enabling all developers to create and publish games and applications on all major platforms" with a roadmap planned to be shown at GDC 2023.

For a free and open source game engine, this is hopefully very welcome news to help put it along side the much bigger teams from Unity, Unreal and others.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Valck 14 Sep, 2022
Quoting: KimyrielleLet's see where this goes, but I am not too worried. If the worst case happens and that company gets taken over by big-evil-business, I am very confident that Godot will get forked by a new dev team and live happily ever after. It happened after OpenOffice got taken over by big-evil-business, too. The good thing about open source is that it's fairly immune against hostile takeovers.

In the best case, this could be a positive game-changer for Godot. While not everything the team will be working on will get upstreamed to Godot, I am sure that a lot of it will.
I just can't help but wonder how long until the "oops, well of course we promised to give back whenever possible, it just turns out whenever is never" announcement.

If the W4 part (port? fork? strain? flavour?) takes off and gains features years ahead of plain vanilla[1] Godot because of massive[2] monetary support, I can't see this as something that can be brushed aside lightly.
The momentum and popularity Godot has been gaining slowly is something that can't be easily forked and replaced by Dogut, or whatever some fork will then be (un-)known as; leaving Godot in the dust of W4dot, and what remains of the community fractured and aimless.
And even though the team of W4 are the core developers of Godot, as I have been educated repeatedly, that doesn't make them saints. Money corrupts, simple as that.

I may see things too negatively, and I sure hope I do; but as I said in that other thread a month ago, certainly a company to keep our eyes on.


[1] with all the vanilla out there, does anyone actually still crave for more? How about bananas?
[2] relatively, for an open source project. Peanuts for "the gaming industry".


Last edited by Valck on 14 September 2022 at 4:37 am UTC
Purple Library Guy 14 Sep, 2022
Quoting: Valck
Quoting: KimyrielleLet's see where this goes, but I am not too worried. If the worst case happens and that company gets taken over by big-evil-business, I am very confident that Godot will get forked by a new dev team and live happily ever after. It happened after OpenOffice got taken over by big-evil-business, too. The good thing about open source is that it's fairly immune against hostile takeovers.

In the best case, this could be a positive game-changer for Godot. While not everything the team will be working on will get upstreamed to Godot, I am sure that a lot of it will.
I just can't help but wonder how long until the "oops, well of course we promised to give back whenever possible, it just turns out whenever is never" announcement.
The thing is that when your business is wrapped around an open source project, to which there are significant other contributors, "not giving back" actually creates significant costs. Aside from reputational costs, which are going to be serious (look how many people are dumping on them and they haven't even done anything bad yet!) a big cost is just the fact that by effectively creating a separate private fork, you massively increase your maintenance burden. Beyond just maintaining a project, you have to deal with the problem that contributors to the main, open version will not take your private additions into consideration when they add code, so it's gonna break your shit all the time. Or the new open stuff you want to take advantage of will be broken if you try to fit it into your altered codebase, so you gotta tweak it before it will work, but then the open version won't have those tweaks, so when that stuff's updated if you try to import it it will break again . . . way bigger pain than just keeping the thing mostly open.
Marlock 14 Sep, 2022
Godot devs have recently published an explainer about why publishing to consoles was not viable for the opensource project:
https://godotengine.org/article/godot-consoles-all-you-need-know

I have a feeling that console support is where W4Games will focus to make steady money, due to the above.

But there is also paid-for support lines and commissioned development of new features for the core opensource project, which works just fine as a business model and as a source of code contribuitions to the main project for QGIS (a geographic informations software)

eg: see North Road's services list (https://north-road.com/) and their feature contribuitions to QGIS changelogs (https://qgis.org/en/site/forusers/visualchangelog326/#feature-select-features-from-expression-based-symbols)
elmapul 14 Sep, 2022
Quoting: ssj17vegetaThat's very good news. 8 millions seem like a big number !

Can't wait to put my fingers on Godot 4 :)

considering they were receiving 15k in donations, that IS a big number indeed.

other than that, they had the epic mega grant and a few other big donations
Purple Library Guy 14 Sep, 2022
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: ssj17vegetaThat's very good news. 8 millions seem like a big number !

Can't wait to put my fingers on Godot 4 :)

considering they were receiving 15k in donations, that IS a big number indeed.

other than that, they had the epic mega grant and a few other big donations
As I've said before, I think it was more of an epic kilo grant.
elmapul 14 Sep, 2022
Quoting: Valck[1] with all the vanilla out there, does anyone actually still crave for more? How about bananas?
[2] relatively, for an open source project. Peanuts for "the gaming industry".

1)the more we need now is more income for developers using godot, consoles might help with this.

2)do you think its more likely for godot to "kill it self" than for the competition to kill it?
Valck 15 Sep, 2022
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: Valck[1] with all the vanilla out there, does anyone actually still crave for more? How about bananas?
[2] relatively, for an open source project. Peanuts for "the gaming industry".

1)the more we need now is more income for developers using godot, consoles might help with this.

2)do you think its more likely for godot to "kill it self" than for the competition to kill it?
More money is certainly welcome.
And therein lies the issue -- accepting investors' money opens up for investors' influence. That is exactly how the competition can get their say in an open source project. Usually not immediately, openly and directly, but yes, that is the big concern I have, that the competition will use their influence over key people as a lever to fracture Godot back into insignificance.

- branch them out into a new company, because reasons. Oh yeah, trade secrets.
- pamper them with money
- slowly introduce new features that can't be backported because of trade secrets
- wait for the community to tear itself apart over this
- ...
- profit
Valck 15 Sep, 2022
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: Valck
Quoting: KimyrielleLet's see where this goes, but I am not too worried. If the worst case happens and that company gets taken over by big-evil-business, I am very confident that Godot will get forked by a new dev team and live happily ever after. It happened after OpenOffice got taken over by big-evil-business, too. The good thing about open source is that it's fairly immune against hostile takeovers.

In the best case, this could be a positive game-changer for Godot. While not everything the team will be working on will get upstreamed to Godot, I am sure that a lot of it will.
I just can't help but wonder how long until the "oops, well of course we promised to give back whenever possible, it just turns out whenever is never" announcement.
The thing is that when your business is wrapped around an open source project, to which there are significant other contributors, "not giving back" actually creates significant costs. Aside from reputational costs, which are going to be serious (look how many people are dumping on them and they haven't even done anything bad yet!) a big cost is just the fact that by effectively creating a separate private fork, you massively increase your maintenance burden. Beyond just maintaining a project, you have to deal with the problem that contributors to the main, open version will not take your private additions into consideration when they add code, so it's gonna break your shit all the time. Or the new open stuff you want to take advantage of will be broken if you try to fit it into your altered codebase, so you gotta tweak it before it will work, but then the open version won't have those tweaks, so when that stuff's updated if you try to import it it will break again . . . way bigger pain than just keeping the thing mostly open.
That is correct, under the assumption you want to keep the business working...
Purple Library Guy 15 Sep, 2022
Quoting: Valck
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: Valck[1] with all the vanilla out there, does anyone actually still crave for more? How about bananas?
[2] relatively, for an open source project. Peanuts for "the gaming industry".

1)the more we need now is more income for developers using godot, consoles might help with this.

2)do you think its more likely for godot to "kill it self" than for the competition to kill it?
More money is certainly welcome.
And therein lies the issue -- accepting investors' money opens up for investors' influence. That is exactly how the competition can get their say in an open source project. Usually not immediately, openly and directly, but yes, that is the big concern I have, that the competition will use their influence over key people as a lever to fracture Godot back into insignificance.

- branch them out into a new company, because reasons. Oh yeah, trade secrets.
- pamper them with money
- slowly introduce new features that can't be backported because of trade secrets
- wait for the community to tear itself apart over this
- ...
- profit
That's a bit more subtle than I'd expect from a venture capitalist. And I'm not seeing where the "profit" part comes from. Sure, if it was in fact Godot's actual competitors doing the investing, maybe they'd be willing to burn their money just to screw everything up, and they might have some sort of shot at it. Although tougher companies than anyone likely to be involved in trying to take down Godot have done their best to kill open source projects and failed; it's not easy to do in an open source project that has momentum. The scheme you describe doesn't really scare me a whole lot when I think about it--the problem is that Godot has really hit critical mass lately, meaning both that it has a lot of contributors and this one company is unlikely to have much luck controlling it that way, and that there are various other interests, companies wanting it to continue being useful so they can use it, that would work to thwart something like this. What you describe would likely just result in a quasi-proprietary fork that nobody paid attention to.

But anyway it isn't. This company is not getting money via becoming publicly traded it's just getting financed by some (granted, probably evil) venture capitalists, so there's no obvious way for Godot's competition to be involved. And venture capitalists just want the company to make money so it can pay them $$$. And at least one of the VC groups is likely to know something about open source because they, like, specialize in it, so they won't be trying to make the company kill the project that lays the golden eggs.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of cynicism when it comes to evaluating the intentions of people with money. But I think this particular cynical idea overcomplicates things and ignores some of the facts.
elmapul 15 Sep, 2022
just to put that into perspective:
blender eanrs 208.222/month.
godot raised 8.5 millions.
that is 40 months of blender funds (3 years 4 months)
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