PlayStack on becoming a major player in the saturated publishing sector

PlayStack is a new games publisher formed by veterans across the entertainment industry, and it has the finances to fund multiple developers and projects.

We talk to CEO and founder Harvey Elliott about the firm’s ambitions.

So is PlayStack a publisher or a games label?

We are a publisher, but that’s not a nice word. I have been a developer for most of my career and that’s why I wanted to be a publisher, because I know how I’d have liked my publishers to act. I want to fix the word ‘publisher’.

As a developer, you want to be supported, you want to be funded and you want people who know what they’re doing to give you good advice and bring your game to market. My job is to help developers get their messaging right, get their games right, put together a great marketing campaign and deliver their game to the world. I think we will do an amazing job of that.

What sort of games are you publishing? Is it just mobile?

It’s mobile this year because they’re easier to find and finish. But we won’t be bothered by platform, we are only interested in great games.

How many games do you want?

We are funded right through until the end of next year, and then after that we will be generating enough to fund everything. The template is to find six this year and 20 next year, but that 20 might be three absolutely huge ones. We can scale fairly quickly and we have already found a lot more than we had expected. We are ahead of our plan and we’ll raise more funds if needed.

What do developers have to give up?

It’ll vary. There will be sequel rights, there will be opportunities to do different things with the IP and it’ll involve different platforms and territories. What we also want to do is work very closely with the developer on their business. We’d like to invest in them and be on their board… we won’t do that with everyone, but we’d like it. You give up what you’d give up for an investor or a publisher, but the return is a highly successful game, expertise and talent.

Any plans for boxed retail?

I don’t know if there’s much of a physical goods world anymore. But I can very easily see us shipping physical product, and some of the stuff we are looking at will involve physical. We do have people in-house with boxed experience, so I’m not phased by it.

What sort of games are you looking for?

We want games with potential. We want titles that, ideally, have a bit more depth and longevity. We want to develop communities and if a game is over in a day, that’s not a great way to engage an audience. I want the company we invest in to survive beyond one game.

There no shortage of indie games publishers. What makes you different?

Several things. We have good access to capital and we’re well funded. We can invest in developers and we only make money when they do. We don’t take fees along the way. We’re
all invested in making the game a hit. We also have access to significant marketing capital. If
we found a game that has big global potential, we have the resource to do a multi-million dollar marketing campaign.

We have a great core team that’s very personable and with a lot of industry experience, and it’ll have a personal element that you might not get from some of the larger guys. I was part of EA for nine years and it’s a huge company, which is phenomenal. But that’s always going to be 10,000 people that you’ll be dealing with. We are not that scale of company.

However, we may be a small indie publisher, but our aim is to not be a small indie publisher. I want to make an impact.

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