Private Division announces four new publishing partnerships

Private Division, the publishing label under Take-Two interactive, has announced four new publishing partnerships with independent developers from around the world.

The new partners are as follows: Die Gute Fabrik, Evening Star, Piccolo Studio (of Arise: A Simple Story fame) and Yellow Brick Games.

Die Gute Fabrik, founded in 2008, is a Copenhagen-based company developing story-based games, and are best known for 2019’s IGF and Indiecade award-winning Mutazione. The studio is currently working on an unannounced story-driven title.

Evening Star meanwhile, founded in 2018, is a Los Angeles-based studio with additional operations in London and Melbourne. The studio’s founded previously worked on Sonic Mania Plus for SEGA, and their debut title will be a 3D action platformer utilizing their proprietary Star Engine.

Piccolo Studio was founded in 2015, after its founders left a successful advertising agency in order to pursue a career in games. The Arise: A Simple Story studio is working on a new title, a new IP being made in partnership with Private Division.

Finally, Yellow Brick Games was founded in Quebec City in 2020 by industry veterans Thomas Giroux, Mike Laidlaw, Jeff Skalski, and Frederic St-Laurent B. The founders habe years of experience on franchises such as Dragon Age, Assassin’s Creed, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, and the team are currently working on an action RPG.

The announcement follows Private Division’s acquisition of OlliOlli World developer Roll7 back in January, and the as-yet unannounced titles from these four studios will join the publisher’s existing portfolio, which included the likes of The Outer Worlds and the physical edition of Hades.

Ahead of the announcement, we sat down with Allen Murray, vice president of production at Private Division and Tom Bass, vice president of marketing at Private Division.

What was it that attracted you to these studios?

Tom Bass, vice president of marketing at Private Division

Allen Murray: The common thread in all of these studios is that these are people who want to push the medium forward and push at the boundaries of their craft. Piccolo and Die Gute Fabrik, as studios, are on journeys to grow in the capabilities, expand the stories they tell and our vision is for Private Division to be the perfect partner for developers as they want to take that next step. With Evening Star and Yellow Brick Games, comprised of industry veterans who want to do something new, this falls into our wheelhouse of supporting new independent studios like we did with Panache Digital Games or taking a risk on a new IP with Obsidian and The Outer Worlds. Each of these studios have a compelling vision and a great game idea and we were entranced by that.

Tom Bass: Another common thread is that all four studios represent people that we’ve really wanted to work with. We first heard of Piccolo Studios after playing Arise: A Simple Story, a game that seemingly came out of nowhere and went on to get nominated for lots of GOTY category awards. When we connected with the team and saw their ambitions for their next project, we knew we wanted to partner with them. The same holds true for Die Gute Fabrik and Evening Star: really talented teams coming off of projects that we were fans of, now exploring new IP that we can’t wait to support. With Yellow Brick Games, Mike Laidlaw and the team there have such an incredible action RPG that we knew five minutes into the pitch that we had to partner up with them!

What is it collectively about these four studios that make them perfect partners?

Allen: Collectively this shows the next evolution in Private Division as we continue to support great independent studios. The first batch of games we have published was largely led by industry veterans stepping out on their own and this group has expanded our roster to established independents who are ready to take the next step as their ambitions have grown.

Tom: Private Division has widened the types of games that we look for. Certainly, there’s still the independent studios charting new courses, which we’ve seen with Panache Digital Games and now Yellow Brick Games, and we’re working with many established independents such as Obsidian, Moon Studios, and Supergiant. We’re also working with smaller teams on games that have huge critical potential when it comes to reception and award season, and that is our opportunity on a lot of these new titles. As a bonus, they are people and teams that we really enjoy working with. 

You clearly have a close relationship with many of your partners, having just recently acquired Roll7. How do you ensure good relationships with such a global network of studios?

Allen Murray, vice president of production at Private Division

Allen: We pride ourselves on having a great team of people at Private Division, most of which have come from the development side, so they understand what it is like to create a new game and the winding road that path takes. As our studios have grown and developed, so have we in order to refine our approach. Our publishing producers become key allies, consultants and champions for the game to the outside world and we have become deeply involved with the game teams themselves.

Tom: From the marketing side, we established early on that we needed to transform the typical developer-marketing relationship. As a marketing team, we’re transparent and establish a level of collaboration with the development teams that many haven’t seen in the industry. A marketing lead is assigned on day one, and while the beginning of the project is a lot of listening, asking questions, and conducting research, we then work together on a marketing plan, understanding what’s important for the game leads and collaborating on the strategy. That openness and teamwork extends deep into the tactical execution of the plan, and we work together on concepts, briefs, creative, packaging, art, etc. The end result is authentic to the game, with lots of contributions and ideas, and really sets the stage for worldwide success.

You’ve had some significant success stories with some of your previous releases – such as The Outer Worlds, Hades and OlliOlli World. What kind of projects are you attracted to as a publisher?

Allen: We always are on the lookout for game ideas that excite us and a team that has a passion and a story behind it. In the sub-AAA space that we operate in, we are able to take risks and we look for games that have a unique commercial sensibility and a team that we feel we can work with.

Tom: Exactly that – it’s not only a great game concept that has a market opportunity and will resonate with audiences, but what’s the team like? Do we see ourselves working with them? Do they have the capabilities, with our support, to deliver on the promise of their pitch? Game development is going to be a long, multi-year relationship, and we want to ensure we’re feeling good about our partners. Each of the studios we’ve announced today meet that requirement, and we can’t wait to share more

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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