At the age of 25, Andrew Bennison feared that he was running out of time to realise his dream of leading his own games studio.
Bennison, alongside friends from the University of Salford, Jack Bognar and Tim Sherliker, were working as Prospect Games in their spare time from 2011. By day, they held roles at other studios, including Codemasters. But in August 2014 they decided to work at Prospect full time.
We realised we were at a turning point in our lives and if we were going to go indie and go start-up, there wasn’t much time left,” Bennison says.
We didn’t have mortgages, we didn’t have kids, but that might be very different in five years time. For the core team, that was the incentive to start this. Since then we’ve had about four more people join and they all came on board for the same reason – they were working in triple-A positions, or had the ability to easily do so. What we can offer at Prospect is a feeling of being much more in control of what they are creating. We are a small team, we are all in one room. It’s a case of we don’t have much time left to take these kinds of risks. It’s super risky doing this.”
The team had been planning to go indie for some time, and had been saving accordingly. They also turned to their friends and family for investment. Then in October, the firm announced it was teaming up with publisher Sold Out to release 3D PC physics-based platformer, Unbox. Sold Out is also helping Prospect with the finance and business side of things.
We’ve been working on Unbox since January. From the get-go we’ve always wanted to be as indie as possible,” Bennison says.
But people don’t realise that being indie means you aren’t just making a game; you’re also making a business. There’s a lot of responsibilities that fall on the business side that we just weren’t taught in university – be it contacting journalists or getting to events or securing dev kits for platforms. There’s a whole host of things on that side. Then, of course, book keeping, financing and all that.
"People don’t realise being indie
means you’re not just making a game;
you’re also making a business."
Andrew Bennison, Prospect Games
Before Prospect turned to a publisher, it launched Unbox onto Steam Greenlight, where players vote on whether a game idea should make it to the Steam store.
We knew we needed to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later on getting onto Steam, and figured Greenlight would be a great way to promote ourselves and prove that people actually like the game,” Bennison explains.
Until that point, outside of anecdotal evidence that we got from events, we didn’t have a following. We didn’t have a lot of coverage. So we figured that Greenlight is free PR and we also will layer that with EGX, so we could drive people from Greenlight to EGX and vice versa.
It worked exactly as planned. We got through in two weeks, within four days of launching we got to No.4 on the rankings and the result of that was coverage in Kotaku, RPS, Eurogamer and Destructoid. Suddenly we had thousands of people commenting on our page, saying how much they were looking forward to it.
Greenlight, while not as effective as it was, if you do it right, it can be a very effective PR tool and a great way to instantly boost the number of people looking at your product.”