A distinctive word puzzle game developed by Scottish indies Denki was rejected by “almost every major games publisher in the word”, according to the studio’s managing director.
Colin Anderson said his studio had waited two years to publish its brain-teaser game, called Quarrel, on Xbox Live Arcade.
In the intervening years, Denki had to lay off the large majority of its workforce – at one stage from 25 to just six people – in part due to its Quarrel project lacking publisher support.
“To give you some idea of how not smooth the whole process has been, let’s just say Quarrel was rejected by almost every games publisher in the world. Sometimes twice; occasionally three times,” Anderson said in a new blog post.
When Denki downsized it was Ruffian Games' creative director, Billy Thomson, who publicly questioned why publishers had turned their back on the game.
“You would think publishers are climbing over the top of each other to sign this game, yet incredibly it hasn’t been snapped up by any of the top publishers in the industry,” Thomson said at the time.
Now, in a personal blog post, Anderson explained that it wasn’t publisher acquisition teams that were reluctant to sign Quarrel. Instead it was the marketing and sales divisions who mothballed the process.
“Almost without exception every acquisition team we showed it to thought it was a certifiable, bankable hit,” he said.
“The problems only started once they’d passed Quarrel up the decision tree to their finance and marketing teams – the bit more commonly known as ‘The Industry’.”
Denki was subjected to numerous explanations on why Quarrel wouldn’t be supported, but Anderson said the key theme he heard was that “gamers don’t buy word games".
Quarrel now has signed the game with UTV Ignition, following the title’s release on iOS.
Anderson now hopes the two years of persisting with the project will pay of.
“There were many times when it would have made far more sense to throw in the towel and get on with making another dual-stick shooter or match-3 game.
“My money is (quite literally) on The Games Industry being wrong. I remain convinced that Gamers know a good game when they see one and will happily invest in it – even if does involve making words instead of headshots.”