There's a new craze in the games publishing scene. A number of companies, from 505 Games and Mastertronic to Team 17 and Green Man Gaming, have been wooing indie developers with a desire to find the next big independent hit.
But Curve Digital, a sister business to developer Curve Studios, is eager to point out that they've been offering this service for years.”
”We recognised the opportunity to create a small, agile, indie publisher to provide a much-needed service to emerging micro studios and developers,” says MD Jason Perkins.
Curve Digital has since been behind some of the bigger indie hits in recent memory, such as Thomas Was Alone and Stealth Inc.Perkins acknowledges that these games and their makers don't need publishers. But they can make a real difference.
We're in a situation now where publishers are at once both less useful than they were and more useful than ever because of the way that games work now,” he explains. You don't need one but it's a good way of getting your games noticed.
There's been a lot of talk about self-publishing, which is developers just pushing a game out through a digital portal.”
Curve may have been in this space for a while but there are now multiple businesses offering publishing services. Perkins says Curve's development heritage gives them an edge.
What we found was there's a new wave of publishers that essentially aren't that different from a PR agency, in that they will offer marketing support. There is still a lot that a true publisher like Curve can offer, like an in-house QA team – we don't outsource any of that.”
As well as offering PR, marketing, QA and localisation services, Curve has a large focus on supporting games post-launch.
Our biggest learning as an indie publisher is the life cycle management of titles,” Perkins explains. Some publishers just help you with the game's initial launch.
That's really important to get right, but there's much more to a game. They aren't quite the same as they were three years ago. There's so much going on, so much vying for consumer attention.
We counteract that by making sure we are doing really intelligent things, for example vouchers that apply to certain other games if they're similar to the title we are selling. We keep our eye on the game years after launch.”
Right now Curve only has a handful of games, so it's easy to talk about maintaining a game long after its launch. But how is the firm going to ensure it maintains this focus as it grows?
We're in a situation now where publishers are at once
both less useful than they were and more useful than
ever because of the way that games work now. You
don't need one but it's a good way of getting your
games noticed. We found was there's a new wave of
publishers that essentially aren't that different from a
PR agency, in that they will offer marketing support.
There is still a lot that a true publisher like Curve can
offer, like an in-house QA team – we don't
outsource any of that."
Jason Perkins - MD, Curve Digital
Our plan is to grow the business appropriately,” says Perkins. We've got four people on the publishing side of things, with two guys focused on PR and marketing.”
As well as expanding its catalogue, Curve has plans to expand overseas, too.
Where we will grow the business is by looking to open a US office to work closely with our partners there,” Perkins says. We have strong partners in the US, like Valve and Sony America, but hopefully in the future it'll be Microsoft and Nintendo too.”
It isn't just planning to move to America – the firm has also started to release games in Japan. To launch Stealth Inc in the region, Curve teamed up with Square Enix.
To survive as a smaller company we need to pick and choose your partners well,” admits Perkins. We made the decision that we'd speak to established groups in Japan to partner with them.”
It's not just other territories, either. Curve is also expanding from digital stores to physical ones.
We wanted to have an impact at retail, which is difficult to do as a digital publisher,” admits Perkins. We partnered with GAME and launched The Swapper into their stores, we did a launch promotion with them, and it's selling well.”
He concludes: We can take those games across to console and release them worldwide with support on the ground at retail. All to maximise the revenue on the games the guys are working on.”