AGŌ GAMES: A NEW INDEPENDENT VIDEOGAME STUDIO IS BORN

Nancy, Lorraine, France, Jan.18, 2010- Do you remember the blessed time when three guys working in a garage could release a genre-defining game that would blow your mind? Founded in January 2010 in Nancy, France, AGŌ Games does remember.

AGŌ Games is a new independent developer and publisher of video games whose objective is to keep the independent spirit alive by taking advantage of new opportunities offered by digital distribution.

AGŌ Games believes that digital distribution gives independent game developers the historical opportunity to develop a new business model that will ensure their independence and profitability in the long run. AGŌ Games’ model is based on the digital distribution of our games on PC and consoles, the use of private investment to self-fund our productions and the integration of marketing functions to promote the studio as well as its creations.

AGŌ Games is a gang of three: Stanislas Berton, Ian Clévy and Alexandre Marie.

Stanislas Berton is a marketing professional, an expert on digital distribution, a game designer and a videogame journalist. He holds the position of Managing Director and Game Producer at AGŌ Games. Ian Clévy is a game developer whose past experience includes work at Paris-based studio Kylotonn. He is AGŌ Games lead developer. Alexandre Marie is a graphic artist who has worked for French videogame studio Hydravision. He holds the position of Lead Artist at AGŌ Games.

This team, made up of passionate gamers who have grown up with video games, fully intends to use the unique possibilities of the video game medium to entertain, surprise and move players from all over the world. AGŌ Games is currently working on its first game which will be announced very soon.

Q&A with team AGŌ

Could briefly introduce yourselves?

Stanislas: I started to work in the videogame industry three years ago as Junior Online Marketing Manager at French Publisher Anuman interactive. Then I joined independent French developer BiP media as Business and Marketing Manager. These two experiences have given me a good insight on the challenges of the production and distribution of games. I had already given the subject a lot of thought by writing, to my knowledge, the only academic paper on Valve’s Steam platform in the course of my business studies. In the meantime, I had been working on some writing and game design projects, waiting for the right time and people to come. It finally happened and voilà!

Alexandre: I am an ENJMIN graduate and I worked for Hydravision as a graphic artist on titles such as Knight Fever or Pom Pom Party. I met Stan as I was working on an Iphone game as a freelance developer. When he started telling me about marketing, I was a bit suspicious at first but after a few chats I realized that he was not evil and that we shared a common vision regarding video games. As for my gaming tastes, I enjoy new experiences and new concepts whether they come from a big studio like DICE for Mirror’s Edge or indie creations like Flower, my favorite game of 2009, no doubt about that.

Ian: I am also an ENJMIN graduate and I worked as developer and lead developer for French studio Kylotonn Entertainment on titles such as Cocoto Festival and My Body Coach. When I started ENJMIN, I thought that everybody dreamed of setting up their own studio but in the end, most students end up working for Ubisoft. I think that if you wish to maintain your activity in the long run as an independent developer, you shouldn’t underestimate the marketing and business side of things. By doing without a publisher, you do without their expertise in these fields. So it is really important to integrate these skills when you start a new studio. So, when I met Stan and he told me about his project I was thrilled to have found the opportunity I had been looking for.

How did you get the idea to create a new studio?

Stanislas: It has always been my dream to have my own video game studio. But to make it more than just a dream, I thought a lot about how to overcome the barriers to entry as a young development studio during the past few years. I had an epiphany when Braid and World of Goo were released. These two games really changed my life. They showed me that size really does not matter, that you can create great games with small teams. Then, their financial success further proved to me that a new business model was emerging thanks to digital distribution.

Is it not a little ambitious to create anew studio with a team only made up of young people with only a few experiences under their belts?

Stanislas: First of all, we are not alone on this project. We benefit from the kind help and support of Marc Laumet, former CFO of French Publisher Anuman Interactive, whose experience and advice has proven quite invaluable to us on many occasions. I also wish to mention Boris Ouarnier from the Nancy Chamber of Commerce whom I’d like to thank for his help and support. Without them, AGŌ Games would have not been able to get off the ground so fast.

But truth be told, I think that being young in today’s videogame industry is more an asset than a liability. In my opinion, the video game industry is experiencing the biggest mutation since its creation more than 30 years ago. Old actors are forced to adapt to something which is the starting point for us. Many things have changed or will change such as what it means to be a developer or a publisher. New opportunities arise. For some, taking advantage of them requires a long and painful process of evolution. For us, this is the foundation of our business model. In many ways I get the feeling that this is a new beginning for the video game industry. Being young today is an incredible opportunity. It’s easier to learn than to unlearn.

Which are precisely the new elements that AGŌ Games integrate?

Stanislas: There are several of them. First, I think that independent studios should get rid of the marketing taboo. Marketing has long been the preserve of publishers and it’s a cultural problem for the studios which I had to face on several occasions. Taking marketing into account does not mean having marketing taking control. It means giving yourself the tools to reach your audience, informing your customer and building a community around the game. It is a means, not an end. What with Internet and social networks, you can communicate cheaply and effectively which is good for small companies like us. It’s important because we approach our work as a craft and not as an industry.

Industry stands for standardization, mass production, copying ad nauseam which has been proven to work. It’s a system. Craft does not come from a system but from a person and that’s the big difference. People and their ideas are what matters to us and we create games for people who share this vision. Thanks to digital distribution, we can reach this people from all over the world. We can be global craftsmen with structures and costs adapted to the business model we have chosen.

Alexandre: I wish to add that both my personal and professional experiences have brought to the conclusion that if you wish to maintain control over your game and its content to offer something new, you have to do it as an independent studio with a small budget.

Big productions need to move a lot of copies to make money so they try to minimize risk as much as possible. Our small size gives us the freedom to be bolder.

Speaking of creation, what types of game do you wish to make?

Stanislas: AGŌ Games does not wish to be a« genre studio».

We see video games as a medium such as literature or video with tools which are its own.

These tools can create experiences and emotions. This is our starting point.

What do we wish to convey to the player? Do we want to blow his mind, to scare him, to challenge him, to tell him a story? Once we have defined that, we start thinking of the tools we need to achieve it. That’s how we designed our first game. We have taken possession of a genre familiar to old school gamers and we are trying to twist it in a new way. I can’t wait to be able to introduce it officially.

Why didn’t you start by doing an Iphone game?

Stanislas: Both for business and creative reasons. It’s true that barriers to entry are lower for the Iphone but this strength is also a weakness for developers because it’s hard to stand out in the Appstore crowd. The great thing about Steam for instance is that you can get good exposure even if you are a small production. But it’s even simpler than that: we designed this game for PC and consoles and it would not work so well on the Iphone. It would require us to rethink some large parts of the game.

Ian: From a technical perspective, all platforms have their pros and cons and pose different challenges: the touch screen on the Iphone, multiple hardware configurations on the PC. But the most important thing is the connection between the game, the platform and the market. Our challenge is to integrate these three elements and combine them to offer the best possible experience to the player.

About AGŌ Games

AGŌ Games is an independent developer and publisher of video games on PC and consoles.

AGŌ game use digital distribution channels on PC and consoles to make its games available to a global audience and works for a better recognition of video games’ social, cultural and economic importance. AGŌ Games was founded in January 2010 in Nancy by Stanislas Berton.

For more information

Stanislas Berton

Managing Director and Game Producer

Contact: sberton@ago-games.com

Tél : (+33) 626-502-286

Website: Coming soon

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