The recently-announced Pub Fund – a scheme where Sony matches development budgets of digital games in return for PlayStation exclusivity – should be a serious consideration for any independent developer.
That was the sentiment offered by James Brooksby, Studio Head of Doublesix; the first developer to release a game – Burn Zombie Burn – under the initiative.
Speaking to Develop, Brooksby says that “if you’re an independent developer thinking ‘how on earth do I get this game out there’, then I think there’s a number of other ways in which the Pub Fund can help you, not least because Sony suddenly has a more vested interest in your product’s success.”
The Pub Fund scheme, which was announced by Sony’s Chris Eden at GDC09, promises to equal the development costs of self-published titles in return for platform exclusivity. Brooksby is confident that Sony will provide “invaluable development and marketing assistance” for any developer that takes part in the scheme.
As well as praising the benefits Sony provides, Brooksby said that the quid pro quo of exclusivity for the platform holder was still something that developers had to deeply consider. “It does really all come down to how strong a developer’s relationships are with Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Valve and the like.”
“I think they’ll be more developers using the Pub Fund, but I don’t think everyone will be rushing to do it, but I’d certainly recommend independent developers to look down that avenue. Obviously there will be a level of quality expected from Sony’s side, so not everyone will be suitable for Sony either.”
Brooksby wasn’t able to provide detailed financial figures on the Burn Zombie Burn partnership, but he said that the scheme works on an individual basis.
“The return you get from Sony happens at the end of the development cycle,” he added, “so you still will need to fund the game yourself and Sony will match your investment when everything is completed.”
Brooksby added that the value of Sony’s marketing clout shouldn’t be underestimated in the partnership equation. “A lot of people assume that in a digital media space you can cut back on budgeting, but you can’t say, ‘we’ve developed this game, the community’s going to find out about it as soon as it goes on the PlayStation Store and everything will turn out fine,’” he said.
“You can’t underestimate the value of straight marketing – we put a lot of money into the marketing of Burn Zombie Burn; and our own funding, along with Sony’s, helped achieve great exposure for the game.”
“I found it quite surprising the number of extra noughts that were on the things that we needed to do, but suddenly acting as the publisher and someone who heads up the marketing campaign, you learn a lot about things you may not have previously appreciated so much!”
Brooksby added that he and his team are “absolutely delighted” with how Burn Zombie Burn turned out through the initiative, and is selling well for the developer. “Now we’re just looking forward to the next thing that we’re doing.”