In the last five years, Deep Silver has elevated itself into the publishing big leagues.
2011’s zombie smash hit Dead Island put the company on the map worldwide. Then two years later, the company made a number of high-profile IP acquisitions from a bankrupt THQ. Deep Silver managed to get its hands on the open world crime franchise Saints Row, as well as post-apocalyptic IP Metro.
What followed was the company’s most succesful year ever, but since Saints Row IV in 2013, it’s been relatively quiet for the firm.
“Deep Silver has not been among the first publishers to release triple-A next generation games so it was a relatively quiet time,” CEO and founder Klemens Kundratitz says.
“Traditionally as an independent publisher we have never been among the first to jump on a new generation of platform. We believe that in terms of development, we are better advised to be in the second range of publishers, especially with very big budget projects.”
In 2016, Deep Silver is back with some of its more ambitious blockbusters. First up is Homefront: The Revolution (pictured below) in May – a project that Deep Silver saved when it stepped in and bought the franchise and development team after Crytek ran into financial difficulties. Deep Silver rebranded the team Deep Silver Dambuster Studios and has high expectations for the title.
“Between now and the summer, Homefront is our entire focus,” Kundratitz says. “We’re going to surprise many people with the quality that product will finally deliver. We had some challenges along the way, but we are determined to establish Homefront as a well-recognised IP in the shooter genre. The game offers a massive single-player part which is really deep and immersive and then the co-op on top is really fun and unique.”
That’s not the only major title that Deep Silver has in the works – the publisher also has a new Dead Island title in production. Sheffield’s own Sumo Digitalis handling the project now, following difficulties with previous developer Yager.
“We ceased the collaboration with them as we wanted to make no compromises with this IP,” Kundratitz explains.
“Sumo Digital showed so much understanding of the brand and had creative ideas and an excellent, clear vision that was aligned with our own. It just made perfect sense for us to move the project to them. We are obviously super excited about the progress we are making with them.”
Deep Silver also has some slightly smaller titles in its line-up, including Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No.9. That title raised $4m through Kickstarter and Paypal and has a wealth of cult appeal, but has been delayed a number of times due to technical issues.
“Mighty No.9 in many ways is exciting for us. It’s our first development in Japan and a collaboration with [Mega Man and Mighty No.9 creator] Keiji Inafune,” Kundratitz says.
“Unfortunately we just had to iron out the last multiplayer issues and that’s well on its way now. We are confident that we will release the game in the coming months.”
"Self-publishing is dead. The complexity of bringing a game to market requires a dedicated infrastructure and considerable financial strength."
Klemens Kundratitz, Deep Silver
And Mighty No.9 isn’t the only Kickstarter title in Deep Silver’s line-up. Last year it launched physical versions of InXile’s Wasteland 2 and Revolution’s Broken Sword 5. In the near future, the firm is also publishing the new game from former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi – Bloodstained.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as a publisher to get behind products which have been validated by the community,” Kundratitz says.
“Many developers have tried the self-publishing model and were not successful and I think that, apart from some exceptional cases, self-publishing really is dead. The complexity of bringing a game to market across the globe, across multiple platforms, in digital and physical forms, requires a lot of experience, a dedicated publishing infrastructure and considerable financial strength.
“That’s why we believe teaming up with independent studios and crowdfunded products is absolutely a strategic element of Deep Silver’s future. They are good examples of products where we teamed up with very talented developers and formed a perfect alliance where both sides played their strengths and are commercially successful in a partnership.”
Deep Silver is also still on the look-out for further IP and studio acquisitions.
“It’s part of our nature as an independent publisher,” Kundratitz says.
“These days, we are keeping our eye out for viable investments. With changes in our industry happening on an almost weekly basis, there are often possibilities arising. Being independent we can act faster than others and can enter into different types of business relationships with our partners as we demonstrated with our crowdfunded products.”
So, with a number of smaller projects as well as big IP like Homefront and potentially Dead Island 2, 2016 is looking to be one of Deep Silver’s busiest and potentially biggest years to date.
“The coming 12 months will be marked by a number of key releases on console and PC,” Kundratitz says.
“Deep Silver has evolved over the last five years as a leading independent developer and global publisher. We are closing the gap between us and the top league of games companies. But at the same time we are determined to keep our independent spirit to be a great publishing partner for other independent companies and form alliances that work for both partners in the long-term, in both the physical and digital space.
Kundratitz concludes: “We have a lot of games in the pipeline and are very much looking forward to E3, where we are not going to be absent and where we will make our next major announcement.”