80 Level Round Table

Feardemic’s Scott Millard on Developing and Publishing Horror Games - 80 Level Round Table

June 14, 2022 Kirill Tokarev / Scott Millard Season 2 Episode 4
80 Level Round Table
Feardemic’s Scott Millard on Developing and Publishing Horror Games - 80 Level Round Table
Show Notes Transcript

In the new episode of 80 Level Round Table, the CEO of Feardemic Scott Millard joined Kirill Tokarev to tell us why the company decided to focus on publishing horror games, explain why people choose to develop horrors, speak about the advantages of having a publisher for your projects, and share some important piece of advice to aspiring Game Developers.

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Scott Millard is the CEO of Feardemic

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Feardemic Website: https://www.feardemic-games.com/ 
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0:00

uh hello guys uh welcome to our today's podcast and today we have with us a special


0:07

guest it's uh scott miller from a ceo of a company called fairdemic


0:13

they are a publisher who works with horror games and he's


0:18

going to talk a little bit about his career a little bit about the way the games are distributed right now how to


0:25

get into publishing and how to work there and he's also going to share some tips for developers who want to publish


0:32

their own game greetings and welcome to the 80 level roundtable podcast


0:38

in each episode host karel tokorev invites video game industry leaders to


0:43

talk about the world of game development no topic is off limits as long as it


0:48

relates to video game development new episodes are in the works so remember to follow us or subscribe and


0:54

share with someone you know will also enjoy the podcast i have a couple of questions for you


1:01

scott and uh maybe we can start with like a little introduction


1:07

yes i i mean we can talk about feardemic obviously we can talk about um um you know


1:12

my games career and but i had this powerpoint presentation that i did ages and ages ago and i certainly don't have


1:18

it with me now but um and it was called build your own bethesda and it was kind


1:23

of about how to make a uh uh uh a um an independent game style tell us about


1:29

that tell us about that it sounds amazing bill your own bethesda well yeah cause i mean you know i


1:35

suppose one of the things that a lot of people have kind of forgotten over the last few years is the value of


1:42

publishing services i mean we talk to developers all the time about um


1:47

you know you know us publishing their game or looking at their game and and we come


1:52

across a lot of skepticism about it and because i mean you know look at the end of the day everyone can publish a game


1:59

themselves they can put it up on steam they can press release and offer it goes and so why would you want to share your


2:06

your revenue with with a publisher and um but these these publishing services are really


2:12

really important and they're becoming even more important with uh um


2:17

uh the barrier to entry to game development you know becoming lower and lower and lower and by that i mean you


2:22

know the tools to make games are literally download and start and and start making


2:29

i mean you know the unreal engine unity is all uh free and so you can make a


2:34

game relatively cheaply with just your time and then it comes to publishing it on


2:41

various different platforms getting it out there working it across the life cycle of that game and of course you


2:47

know marking it marketing it getting it in front of as many people as possible and um you know so so all these things


2:54

are really critically important and one of the other um things that that i i had come across last week was um i had i


3:01

spoken to many venture capitalists and they're all going you know no no we're not interested in publishers we're only


3:07

interested in games as a service and we're going to invest in those things and that has been the story for the last


3:14

you know perhaps you know two three years and you know millions and millions of dollars uh have been invested in you


3:21

know companies with only one ip and those are starting to release now and a lot of those are starting to release now


3:27

and i was speaking to a rather large venture capital company the other day and he was saying yeah well it's not


3:33

panning out very well because you know people are taking taking these monster bets on one game and so and when that


3:40

game doesn't actually uh sell um you know where do you go i mean there's no


3:46

there's no uh doubling up but in the game of publishing of course you have uh


3:52

uh grouped together titles and you have a backstop should one in your games not


3:57

do as you uh as you expect you can always move on to it to another game and that has always been the the business of


4:04

publishing whether it be movies whether it be books whether it be uh um you know


4:09

games or music uh anything in entertainment it was grouping products together to have uh uh


4:17

and grouping those products together so that you could leverage the the entire range of products to


4:23

promote each individual product interesting so finally you mentioned


4:28

bethesda because my favorite story about bethesda is when they released the terminator game


4:34

and at the same time its software released i think it was doom


4:39

and at the time like when they were compared and competing on the market doom obviously became this uh cultural


4:45

phenomenon but at the end of the day further down the line bethesda actually acquired its software


4:53

and all the attack and all the brands and all the other so that just goes for you know publishing still wins and at


4:59

the end of the day in some banner yeah and i think you know more recently


5:05

i mean and and i mean there's still a lot of skeptics out there saying oh publishing's an old business but you know you have companies like tiny build


5:12

um and now devolver which have just both recently in the at least in the last like 18 months or so


5:18

are listed on the aim in in the uk and the valuations have been insane um you


5:23

know it's simply because you know that again i mean they're a solid it's a solid business model yes it can go a bit


5:30

wrong here and there but you know you always have um a catalogue to fall back


5:35

on uh uh should you know your primary or your big hit of that year not do so well


5:41

um but i mean you know so i i suppose and and for for smaller you


5:46

know younger publishers i mean it's really really important for them to sort of understand what it is that the publishers do so perhaps we can we can


5:53

talk about that so tell us about uh tell us a bit about fear damage because before the


6:00

when i was preparing for the podcast i kind of checked out the website and it was my


6:05

understanding that you guys kind of specialize in a certain theme


6:10

maybe you can talk a little bit more about this and uh why this particular theme what makes it so interesting and


6:17

so on yeah so so essentially feardemic is a publisher of video games and we publish


6:22

across all platforms pc playstation five siriusx etc and um uh we


6:29

we're a little different in that we specialize in a genre of horror and


6:35

you know when we say horror um when i mean one of the things about the games industry which is pretty interesting


6:40

actually is that we actually categorize genre by game mechanic as opposed to


6:46

the narrative style so when you see sort of adventure first person shooter all those types of things on a graph uh are


6:52

you sort of struggling to find horror and a lot of people sort of say to me you know why why are you doing horror


6:57

such a niche business but actually i mean when you consider uh the narrative


7:03

as horror and then you look around look at all the games that are sort of released every year uh almost about 30


7:10

of them 30 of games would fall within this sort of a vertical that we call horror low


7:17

intensity horror all the way through to high intensity horror and when i mean low intensity horror i mean you know


7:22

um you know children's games like the adams family or even pe on roblox i mean that is a horror narrative game but it's


7:28

aimed at kids it's a low intensity and then you've got you know the more high intensity games like you know dark


7:34

fracture and uh uh um you know and this comes from this idea of our founder actually


7:41

and and the company fedemic was founded by another development studio called bluebertine and uh uh we are and they're


7:49

still our biggest shareholders in fact we're sort of you know in their office now um but uh uh and the thesis was to


7:57

be the best in your your your area and they picked psychological horror and so uh layers of


8:04

fear came um the observer came and they were all psychological horror games and they became extremely good at them and


8:10

one of the things that that peter babiano the founder of bloomberg team sort of kind of wanted to do


8:16

was take that experience that they had and the the the ip that they sort of you


8:22

know gathered around the sort of expertise in doing it and um share that with our other developers around the


8:29

world or small developers around the world that perhaps doing their first or second game and this is where feedemic


8:34

comes in so if you can imagine bluebird team they focus on you know their own creative creative projects uh whether it


8:41

be their own created ips or licensed ips um fedemic we do all the third-party


8:47

publishing we look for projects all over the world and uh whether they're in los angeles whether they're in israel


8:53

whether they're in here in poland and um we invest in those projects uh not only


8:59

just with you know our cash but our expertise as well um given


9:04

and you know bloopers expertise whether it be in sound design whether it be in you know getting certain plugins to work we can


9:11

provide that assistance to make sure that um at the end of the day that developer is going to deliver a game


9:18

that they want to deliver you know it's not of course you know art is art you know it's not really always a given


9:24

especially with um smaller smaller teams and you don't really know what you're going to get at the end um and hence why


9:30

you know it's great to sort of have a as wider catalog or larger catalogue as you


9:35

can to ensure that you know some of those some of those games you know that actually get released actually make it


9:42

uh to a wider audience so question um


9:48

why horror like if you can talk from a publisher perspective in terms of


9:55

um you know revenue maybe sales numbers and so on when you think about horror


10:00

games i think about games like maybe bloodborne maybe games like resident


10:07

evil right um those kind of big titles


10:12

silent hill a lot from japan most of them are from japan that image right so those are super successful


10:19

titles like millions of copies sold um but i was under the impression that was


10:25

more kind of um you know like a one brand story or something like that


10:30

that it's not widespread um since you're doing this in this working in that genre like tell


10:37

us a little bit about the some of the numbers or maybe some of the just general trends there


10:44

yeah so um you know one of the uh the biggest platforms certainly to emerge out of um the uh


10:51

uh the pandemic was you know roblox and um you know roblox were the darlings of


10:56

everybody for in 20 2021 and the biggest game that they had on their platform was


11:02

a game called piggy that game is a horror game without any question i mean it is a low intensity


11:08

horror game um so it is a very very widely appreciated


11:14

genre um and i mean as far as the size of the market goes i mean we think i


11:19

mean again that you know getting the exact data because the the the industry doesn't follow uh the games industry


11:25

doesn't follow games by narrative style they follow them by you know first person shooter adventure game simulator


11:32

those types of things so i mean to do there has been some sort of narrative narrative sort of uh


11:38

dissections that you can sort of overlay and then make some judgment but i would say and i certainly certainly you know


11:45

the sort of watermark that we go on is that about 13.1 billion uh billion


11:51

dollars a year uh in pc games and console games is generated from games that would fit within the um uh-huh


11:59

within the vertical of horror to some degree i mean you know the medium is primarily an adventure game right so um


12:05

uh but it is really a horror game so um we it's a substantial market you know it


12:11

it is almost you know a little under a third of all you know games produced are


12:17

you know um uh have a narrative thread that would easily be translated as


12:22

horror now as to why horror um have you ever been to a randstein concert


12:28

um you know if you if you sort of compare the sort of end user or the person that generally


12:35

is hot interested in horror they're not dissimilar to sort of people that are


12:40

interested into sort of you know alternative alternative sort of music scene they're very they're they're very


12:46

um engaged uh and and this is one thing that blooper team found out and this was peter peter when i first met him he's


12:54

explaining this to me saying look you know they're really really engaged and what we found is when we actually you


12:59

know produced dropped layers of fear and and it started becoming a huge success they're


13:05

really interested in following what you're going to do next they're really interested and engaged and open to what


13:11

it is you're going to do next and um and what we've found over the past uh past


13:16

couple of years as we've built the adamic as we're starting to sort of build our own community and um you know


13:22

it's it's it's tough you know there's a lot of things out there distracting users but you know it's


13:28

much easier when you have a user base that has sort of like these common interests that you can sort of predict


13:35

what they are um it would be much harder for example trying to build an audience


13:40

with general interests that are interested in say for example you know cars everyone's interested in cars so


13:47

the more uh general those interests are the harder they are to pinpoint uh especially across social media today so


13:54

um from a perspective of being able to understand our audience and you know carrying that audience along with you


14:01

from game to game you know horror is a much more sort of robust um


14:07

um robust narrative style to use and you know look it's fun i mean who doesn't


14:13

like to be scared yeah yeah i mean i have a question um two rather um


14:19

so one of the big ones is who makes horror games right so


14:26

if you look at some of those titles you might think i mean what's going on there right


14:32

but as you know coming from the developer side and knowing a lot of developers i know that i know the


14:37

developers at layers of field for example so we did an interview with them uh a while back when the game was just


14:44

uh being released they're just like normal guys that work


14:49

in the offices the the subject matter is this right the the ghost and stuff but


14:55

um it would be nice since you are a publisher if you could discuss a little bit about your partners like who are the


15:02

companies that you're working with is there some specific region where more horror games are being made


15:08

is there something specific about these kind of teams teams that you're


15:15

partnering with that are building these kind of games um it's really general i mean you know


15:21

there is horror fans all over the world and i mean and i think one of the things about layers of fear you know when it


15:27

came out i mean i i think um you know bluebird team at that particular point in time was a small


15:33

independent developer they nowhere near as big as they are today um they were quite small and they were known as an


15:39

independent developer a small independent developer and they created this game um uh that


15:46

sold or you know that that you know has over i think it's about three to five million users i can't i can't remember


15:52

it is quite a large amount um and it's not just a game that everyone played it's a game or a game that launched


15:58

blueberry team it really is a game that launched you know a million horror games because people saw saw


16:05

what you could do and how you could tell stories with uh interactive projects to


16:13

tell really interesting stories with not only just music and


16:18

filmed content and but interactive content and um you know you could really


16:23

use it to find emotions and really drag emotions out of your users and i think that is that is the sort of attraction


16:31

of it is is because it there's something else there in you that you don't present to


16:38

anybody else that you can sort of in explore using the medium of a horror


16:44

game in the safety of your own in the safety of your own home it tells you as much about you as it


16:50

does you know about um uh uh whoever made the game um and i think that's


16:56

what's really interesting about it and you know we all understand what it is to be


17:02

scared it's a basic human instinct and um you know if we


17:07

can feel that we can control it with either a horror movie or a horror game i mean


17:13

it's it's really kind of interesting and that's why people find it attractive and they find it attractive to make that type of product as well because the


17:19

challenge is how can i provoke this emotion um in somebody else because i can't


17:28

provoke pain using a computer game because i want to um you know i can't really provoke love


17:35

it's that's a really you know a hard thing to do for even the season most


17:41

seasoned storyteller but i can i can i think that i can produce that visceral reaction of fear


17:48

um so it is um a vehicle for that and i i really do think that's really the


17:54

reason why people really enjoy it i mean most of our developers you know hey they're just normal people


18:00

they've got to work in an office as you say i said um you know they're they're they're interested in lots of different


18:05

things some play classical music something yeah yeah it's not that they're they're all like


18:11

ramstein fans and and so on so


18:17

a question again um a little bit about development and then i'm gonna switch to publishing and


18:23

distribution so there


18:29

there's this idea but i'm i'm just gonna say uh in general right so it doesn't mean that it's true and you can maybe


18:36

disillusion me or discuss it so that some of these games horror games are


18:42

cheaper to make example so if i want to do a


18:47

stylized project similar to let's say the legend of zelda


18:53

i need to have a lot of guys crafting content creating visual effects


19:01

very time consuming because it's almost everything done by hand you can't really automate it and all but then


19:07

when i build something like amnesia i create an environment


19:12

i create maybe one very gory scary character that chases me and then i just create spaces where i


19:20

hide in the you know less time smaller team


19:25

less money involved um is this true now was it ever true or


19:32

it's just the same budget the same amount of time and it's not really it doesn't really matter well


19:38

i mean i i don't think it's necessarily about the budget um as about the the creativity and the


19:45

ability to actually use the tools in a way that can make someone scared i mean you know there is a lot of um you know


19:53

interesting things out there that have been made on a low budget that are incredibly compelling and fun to to to


20:00

experience um uh so you know it i i think you know generally speaking


20:07

right in the whole games industry i think what is going to happen and you know certainly with the release of ue5


20:13

um and uh you know we have we have talked internally about this particularly a lot of the game developers about you know


20:20

thinking about okay what's the new project going to be and um you know a lot of them


20:26

you know will say things like well all games are going to look beautiful within within five years it'll be really hard


20:33

to tell a game on a low budget from a game on a high budget because the plugins the ray tracing everything the


20:40

basic tools are there and they're all for free and so everything is going to look beautiful it's all really going to


20:46

come down to your skill as a storyteller and as a game designer that's going to


20:53

make the difference so the actual art style the assets and how it looks is not


20:58

going to be as important uh as as it has done in the past you know in the past we


21:04

all get excited about water or fire or something um uh whereas whereas in the


21:11

future it's all going to look fantastic so whether it's whether it's a game that cost


21:16

just someone's time or a game developed by you know uh 50 or 60 people the real


21:23

key is going to be in the storytelling and that is um um you know the the


21:29

that is the challenge for everybody and it's not certainly not dissimilar in in the in other


21:34

in in other parts of the entertainment business as well i mean you know again um you know the cost of creating filmed


21:41

content is


21:46

is quite cheap um but you know it comes down to the story that you can tell how


21:52

you can present it and the um the character that you can you can portray


21:57

it's not um the quality of it uh everything's fantastic now


22:02

um so it's it really comes down to that sort of that style and the quantity of


22:08

um of games that are on the market i think it's like you know 19 games or you know


22:13

on average or 20 games every day get you know released on steam so that over the course of the year is a huge amount um


22:22

and you know the only way to overcome that is you know focusing on that sort of story and you know being able to take


22:30

that take the user on a on a journey and it doesn't necessarily need to be


22:35

you know the you know most amazing graphics or whatever it just has to be


22:40

engaging and it has to be a story that they want to care about scott so let's talk a little bit about


22:47

the distribution so i checked out your website you actually have a a store there where you can go


22:53

and buy different uh games but this doesn't it doesn't seem like this is the only


22:59

way that you're distributing your product no no no no no no to be honest it was an afterthought but


23:06

yeah i thought so so how um what are like the main channels where


23:11

you're selling i know that probably steam is very big maybe switch maybe some other


23:16

platforms it would be very nice if you could kind of explain how our games are being sold


23:22

right now and where so so finally i think a very detailed um


23:28

discussion about this yesterday so essentially at the moment we sell directly on steam and we sell our


23:35

playstation store the nintendo store and the xbox store um this is where the


23:42

customers are this is um where they buy games everywhere else


23:47

in my opinion is is kind of like um


23:52

it's a whole other discussion um uh what i have found surprising over the


23:58

last couple of years is that um there is still an appetite for physical


24:04

games particularly on playstation now um uh we


24:10

last year we did a collector's edition of dark and doing a collection edition a collector's edition of dark allowed us


24:17

to put more in it and charge a higher price for it it's sold out um in


24:25

as soon as it was announced and that was you know on playstation 4 playstation 5 and switch now we're going


24:32

to do it again generally range it again now we're just going to deal with koch to arrange


24:38

it throughout all the main mainstream sort of you know our stores such as media market here in uh


24:45

in in europe uh in asia in australia those types of places you know electronic boutique because essentially


24:51

at the end of the day i mean people are still going out and buying physical games and it


24:56

you know surprisingly i mean a lot of my revenue has come from that uh over the past 12


25:02

months as opposed to digital so you know when it comes to sort of


25:07

planning your your game development thinking about okay well how am i going to sell it at the end of the day steam


25:13

is a really really tough one because it's so noisy there's a lot of uh things


25:18

going on there there's a lot of choice all the time there's a lot of you know discounting and price cutting the


25:24

platforms once you get from steam to the playstation to xbox they become a


25:29

little bit more curated if you like um because of the cost to get your your your your game on that


25:37

platform and um when they're a little bit more curated it's a little bit easier to find a customer that's willing


25:43

to buy your your your title um so uh you know our experience is you know we love


25:49

the pla we love those platforms and you know we really focus our energy on those platforms um you know pc and that's you


25:56

know with dark for example we don't do the pc distribution on that um uh uh


26:01

unfold games does it directly we just do the consoles um because it's you know a


26:07

nice uh thing that we can do and we are able to apply the skills that we've learned from bloomberg team from all our


26:13

own personal experience and apply it to getting the game to the the platforms and getting it well


26:20

or getting imported in in the best possible way scott so to kind of talk a little bit


26:25

about the role of the publisher right and you mentioned that uh


26:31

there's this um situation where people are like why are we sharing revenue with you


26:37

what are you bringing to the table you share it with steam you share it


26:43

with a publisher maybe with walmart then what are you left with right my question is like


26:50

what are the skills and the things that you bring that uh ultimately help push more copies


26:58

and make more money for the developer yeah yeah i i think for for a challenge the the challenge is for a developer is


27:05

to understanding what um uh what is required for them to make their game


27:10

successful and we see a lot especially over the last couple of years and you've had these sort of dedicated steam sales


27:17

where people you can put your unreleased game into that sale whether it be you know


27:23

packs or whether it be you know realms deep or or those types of things and you can accumulate this huge amount of wish


27:29

lists and a lot of people go you know i've got you know


27:34

70 000 wish list 60 000 wish list why should i share that with you i've done all the work um and but that's one part


27:41

of it that is just one one part part of it having those wish lists there and then trying to convert them is something


27:47

else because usually those wish lists and uh you know they age and uh you know over the course of the development cycle


27:54

uh two three years um you know the people that wish listed your game early on and may not be the ones that


28:02

buy the game later on down the track so it's it's a very complicated complicated sort of um uh um process that you've got


28:09

to put in place so number one if we a publisher um uh so it's separated into


28:15

two things first there's the marketing and there's a technical side so let's just focus on the marketing for a second a publisher should have a team of


28:22

publishing uh of marketing staff and that staff we have uh now we have nine


28:27

people and that they handle everything from community to advertising to


28:33

building assets to making sure that that um you know we are mentioned everywhere from reddit all


28:39

the way through to you know all the steam communities across all the different pages and they're all connected and we're all talking to all


28:46

the people on discord all the time and we're doing that constantly so that the


28:51

developers don't have to do that and the longer that we do that the more that we do that the better we get at it um you


28:58

assume that companies like devolver uh uh have a great deal of experience in that as do do we because we've been


29:05

doing it a long long time and it's like practicing it's like practicing anything you know


29:11

you get better at it over time we have better relationships with media we have better relationships with our influencers and we have better


29:17

relationships with the platform holders because we are constantly talking to them and we're bringing them bringing


29:23

them content um and that all has a huge value in greasing the wheels to get your


29:30

game in front of people now um um you know it's okay to go on realms deep and end


29:36

up with seventy thousand uh um uh uh wish list but what do you do with them i


29:42

mean you know who do you talk to at microsoft who do you talk to at sony it's really hard to uh no matter how


29:47

well you're financed to go well i'm gonna start a marketing department i'm gonna start tomorrow and they're just


29:53

going to focus on my game it it's really difficult from that standing start to do that and that's


29:59

just all happening before release once you hit release you suddenly are in the retail retailing business


30:06

and you know retailer or retail customers don't sort of all rush out on one day and buy the


30:12

game you know certainly some of them will maybe five percent of your wish lists well or seven percent of your wish


30:17

lists and then you've got to work that title over the next five years and that


30:22

means that you have to ensure that you can get it into boxes you can get it into bundles you can get it into sales


30:28

and it's constant constant constant and uh that is sort of the the job of a


30:33

marketing department in a publishing company to make sure that you are not leaving uh revenue on the table you've


30:39

got to look for it everywhere and you've got to consistently look for it and you know the general rule of thumb if you're


30:45

going to give anywhere between 50 and 30 of your revenue to a publisher you're


30:51

gonna think well um i'm going to over time at least sell twice as many or three times as many at least at the very


30:58

least um at best their connections their experience in delivering a game to the


31:04

marketplace will you know give me a better chance at converting my you know lifetime work into a a a hit um you know


31:14

there's no guarantees of course it is a sort of a very fickle marketplace but um uh you


31:20

know you've got to give yourself as many chances as you can to find success and you know that's what a marketing


31:26

department and a publisher should do for you from the marketing point of view from a technical point of view of course


31:32

um there is a lot of things that a publisher can offer as well that last mile of localization of porting the qa


31:40

support all those things that you need to do and you know certainly a um a publisher like videmic


31:48

and our connection with blueber team allows us to sort of you know get access to


31:54

many um services that perhaps a a a standalone solo developer


32:00

is not going to get um or not going to know where to look for them um so um


32:07

so yeah and you know those technical services again have a lot of value whether it be just the porting expertise


32:14

um to the different platforms knowing how to do all the certification processes and making sure that um you


32:20

can you can have good open dialogue with the platform holders and explore opportunities such as game pass such as


32:26

playstation plus all these types of things are really important to getting your game in front of as many people as


32:33

possible scott this is super interesting that you mentioned the platform holders and your experience


32:39

working with microsoft sony on playstation and xbox


32:45

and i have this question so you mentioned that the market is very saturated


32:52

i mean 20 games per day there is so many games on like my playstation store i can barely see


32:58

what's coming out uh apart from this the the front page yeah on steam it's


33:04

just ridiculous and if you go on the switch or anywhere kind of the discoverability


33:11

process i would say it's uh still like in the middle ages somewhere


33:17

right because there's basically no information apart from the name and this little icon or


33:24

you know tile that you have with the so in this situation and these catalogs


33:31

how do you improve discoverability like what are the tools that you have that help you you know especially with


33:39

horror games because they it's difficult that's what i'm saying


33:44

it's wildly difficult i mean it's difficult to predict um anything these days with the with you know the way our


33:51

digital lives are shaped i mean you can't sort of manufacture something going viral a lot of the times and our


33:57

experience with dark has literally been um you know it it


34:02

has just been um being patient being um consistent and you know just


34:08

pushing and pushing and pushing all the time you know and you know interestingly enough i mean you know dark was released


34:15

on pc in 2019 i think um in late 2020 we


34:22

released uh the ps4 version and then ps5 and series x followed in 2021


34:29

and it wasn't until the final quarter of 2020 2021


34:35

that um uh you know it sold the most copies and even now today this last quarter that's


34:41

gone through we've had a phenomenal run with it because people are still are still discovering it we one of the


34:48

things that we did when we ported it is tried to make it as future proof as possible by you know ensuring that it


34:54

had haptic supports for the new uh the new consoles in it so that you know it


34:59

felt would always feel like a new game that it wouldn't date as fast and you


35:05

know i'm happy to say that that's kind of what's happened um and you know just just yesterday it won the webby award


35:12

for the people's choice other people's choice webby award for independent creation um and uh you know again that's


35:18

given a whole lot of other uh um profiles in the press room around


35:24

twitter i mean i saw a lot of things being shared last night on on twitter in regards to dark um so you know


35:30

it really is a marathon in some in in some respects i mean certainly even with


35:36

blooper teams titles they still continue to to sell and they continue to promote


35:41

them all the time and they continue to work those titles um over time and so


35:46

you know if you just walk away from something it's the the day after you release it


35:51

like we used to do um you know it it it just won't work you've really got to


35:57

work it over time now you've got to really focus on the life cycle of a product as opposed to the day one


36:03

it's interesting that you mentioned this and this and this multi-platform angle


36:08

because i remember the first time i actually played a game called hollow knight


36:15

was on switch and only later did i figure out that it was released several years


36:20

after it has been already released on pc and it was a huge hit there


36:26

but it blew up only when it went on a different platform


36:32

yeah i mean look i think that that's sort of happening more and more i think among us was another game that um you


36:37

know it it it took a while for it to find an audience um you know i think there's


36:43

just so much going on out there in the world there's so much content and you know i i was reading well i was


36:49

listening to a podcast the other day an expert on um you know filmed entertainment and he was talking about


36:55

the top five streaming companies were investing 130 billion dollars in


37:02

in content this year there's just not enough credit cards in the world to pay for that you know it doesn't there's


37:08

just not enough subscribers to go around um so not only is film content getting saturated game content's getting


37:15

saturated everything's getting saturated so you've got to be patient now it's not a case of um you know back in the day


37:21

when we had tekken i mean you know it was all about the day one number and rolling it out um or dragon ball or


37:28

skyrim now it doesn't work that way we've had to rethink how we do this and how we approach it and um you you have


37:35

to sort of do it uh uh with sort of a a life cycle product life cycle in mind as


37:41

opposed to that day one number so have a let's go like a little bit in a


37:47

different street we talk a lot on our podcast and how do you start in


37:53

video game development right so where do you go you can start as you know like a tester


37:59

then do something else or an artist but how do you start working


38:05

as a as a in a publishing company like what are like the entry points there


38:12

and how you can can you grow yeah look publishing um here


38:18

is it a different is it a different mindset that you have to have when you go well


38:24

yeah i mean game development is all about um you know finding um specialists a group


38:31

of specialists to provide uh expertise as a group to create one product whereas


38:37

being a a publisher is being more a generalist and knowing all the bits and


38:43

pieces and how they all sort of sort of go together to affect an outcome uh you have to know a little bit about game


38:48

development and and sort of who does what uh so you can sort of understand


38:54

how that product gets to uh gets to release stage but you know if that there are you know the big


39:01

publishers and there's a lot of consolidation going on at the moment and um you know interestingly enough um you


39:07

know the publishers uh you know at the top levels at the in the executive levels


39:14

you know those people have been around for a while and um you know um some of them have been quite you know


39:21

uh uh famous others not so but um uh you know that


39:27

there is a whole new generation of people that are sort of rolling through publishers at the moment and i think um you know it's a really fascinating you


39:34

know area to be involved with and one of the things that makes it so attractive


39:39

is the fact that uh you know every week you're dealing with a new product as


39:44

opposed to a developer that has to develop the same product for five years straight um


39:50

i know a lot of people sort of kind of burn out you know what one you know game number ones to be


39:56

hit so they're immediately developing the sequel and you know five years later they're still developing the same game


40:02

and they just want to you know throw the computer out the window um so but you know the great thing about publishing


40:08

and being involved in that side of the business is that you you are constantly dealing with new games all the time


40:13

because you know publishing is about building a pipeline and uh you know the bigger the pipeline uh the more products


40:20

you have going through through the more efficient that your your publisher will operate or will become the more


40:27

practiced your marketing teams will become the better the relationships that you have with the platform holders the


40:32

better the relationships you have with media and so on and so forth so uh it's a very very different type of


40:41

experience than just working in game development and game development i mean you know there's all game development


40:46

you know you can tell your own story and that's what it's that's what's great about it but with game publishing you


40:53

get to help other people realize their dream of telling that story so and


40:58

that's what it is being able to i mean i'm i'm the world's worst storyteller so i'm never gonna make a game uh i'm never


41:05

going to make a movie or write a book but i can certainly help other people realize their dream in


41:11

bringing their story bringing their their their world to to market


41:16

so i want to ask you a little bit of a question that we


41:22

kind of discussed with summer representatives when we were talking about streamers


41:28

uh and you know streamers right now is kind of like the one of the main avenues where you can


41:35

spread the word about your game and what they said is that they are very


41:41

peculiar about the audience and they want to have offers that kind of cater to that audience so


41:48

if i stream horror games i want to sell with an affiliate link or


41:54

something only horror games because that helps and it aligns with my audience


42:02

having kind of centered your detention attention at uh


42:08

horror in general as a genre does it help you sell more copies in in general does it


42:15

help you kind of find that sweet spot and uh push kind of more stuff out there


42:21

or it doesn't really matter you just kind of like to work in this space look it it is becoming ever more


42:29

important and i mean we we see it just in i mean dark fracture is a game that um is coming coming


42:35

later um you know we haven't sort of announced the release date yet but uh uh the demo dark fracture prologue which is


42:42

sort of the the story before the actual you know full game starts is available now for free on on steam and we see it


42:50

all the time the wish lists going up and spiking and down and spiking and every


42:55

time they spike we can almost certainly find a youtuber that has um uh founded


43:02

uh and you know played it for his audience and um you know the the resulting interest that we get straight


43:08

after that is just immediate it's it's amazing but you know one thing is is sort of


43:13

clear to me is that it's really difficult for us to go out


43:18

there and ask um streamers to support our new game or


43:24

play our new game because we don't necessarily understand their audience as


43:29

um as intimately as they do um and you know um


43:36

what i've found is that you know every time we have gone and sort of asked someone to play something new they sort


43:42

of you know how much you're going to pay me to do it because you know i i risk losing viewers if they turn on to my


43:50

stream at night and don't see something that they know um so it's kind of like a


43:56

two-way street and it's a very very difficult one um uh but you know they are super important


44:01

streamers and you know but i think that the key is you know not to try and get them to


44:08

uh play your game or push your game is to try and think about how do you make


44:15

content uh that streamers would enjoy and that their audience will want to watch


44:21

that is the sort of kind of the key and it goes back to what we're talking about before is you know that uh


44:27

if it's all about the narrative the storytelling and the game doesn't matter


44:33

um about the you know the quality of the water or the reflections or the light and the budget and how many people


44:39

worked on it it comes down to the story the narrative style and the thought process that's gone into the game as to


44:46

whether or not it's going to be something that streamers can use to engage their audiences with um


44:54

so and and this has been going on for for ages i mean i remember in the start of


44:59

my career i was stationed in korea and there was three tv channels at the time


45:05

uh broadcasting uh computer games 24 hours a day and that was all warcraft


45:12

warcraft and warcraft and starcraft um and i remember going in to see them saying look um you know we have this


45:19

game called unreal tournament and it's going to be fantastic we can make a tv show around it and uh they


45:25

just looked at me and said our audience likes starcraft you know


45:32

and um you know that was kind of that was it that their audience liked starcraft they kept on playing starcraft


45:38

for the for the next 10 years um because you know that that's kind of the human condition uh it's very hard to


45:45

introduce them to new content um and i see that with my kids as well you know


45:50

they're they're out watching streamers all the time and they will watch a streamer because he they know what he's


45:56

gonna play they don't wanna see something new they they just want to see what that stream is playing because they


46:03

expect that's what they're going to get um so it is a kind of really difficult one luckily i mean


46:09

dark fracture prologue has been out there for a couple of years now and um you know it it


46:15

it it satisfies all the needs of uh of um you know horror streamers in that


46:21

it provides the jump scares and the detention and it's nice and it fits with their format um so so yeah they're all


46:29

they inevitably will will sort of add it to their repertoire and you know we'll see the results of that but you know


46:35

other games that we've had and tried to go out and push to get streamers to play it really hasn't kind of worked for us


46:41

because the end of the day we don't know those streamers uh audiences and you know


46:46

people are people and they don't really like to see new things um they'd much prefer to see something that they're


46:52

comfortable with and familiar with um so it takes it goes back to again the the


46:57

the long term uh strategy of you know um uh bringing a game to an audience it's


47:02

not all about day one anymore it is a longer-term pursuit scott so we are


47:08

almost out of time but i had like this last question kind of recommendation i hope


47:13

you can give so if i'm a developer i developed a premium title


47:21

and i want to go to market so what are the three things that i absolutely must do


47:28

in order not to fail number one don't get too overly ambitious um because you know there is a


47:35

lot you can bite off a lot more than you can chew and you'll be developing your first game


47:40

for 10 years as opposed to you know one or two so be conservative and be realistic


47:47

about what you can do as a solo developer or even if it's like three of you or four of you be realistic about


47:54

what it is that you can that you can do and be thorough about setting your goals


47:59

so make your game designed document and and and stick to it like glue don't let the


48:05

let it drift so so that's number one number two uh


48:13

if you're focusing on game development think about adding a publisher to that mix there's


48:19

publishers out there that will help you um but make sure you've got a good relationship with that publisher and you


48:24

understand where they're coming from and how you fit with uh get into their roster of games and you


48:31

know how they're going to treat that game over a longer term um so and number


48:38

three well it has to be fun if it's not fun you know if if you're not enjoying making it


48:45

no one's going to enjoy playing it so you know it really does have to be um you know a labor of love or something


48:51

that you want to do rather than sort of something that you think you should be doing all right scott i think it was very


48:57

inspiring thank you so much for your time i will leave the link to the description uh in the description for the website so


49:04

people can check out your catalog and maybe isn't your game thank you so much


49:10

have a good thanks carol thank you for having me thanks for enjoying another episode of the 80 level roundtable podcast


49:17

check out upcoming episodes on the 80 level website at 80.lv join our career


49:23

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