'Indie game developers need to get out there and network'
An independent games developer has highlighted the importance of forming partnerships through networking after releasing its new game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Prospect Games released the console versions of its popular PC Steam game ‘Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure’ last week.
Founder and managing director Andrew Bennison said the core team which worked on all versions of the game for 31 months ranged from three to eight in number – but they tapped into an overall network of around 90 contributors.
“If I was to offer one piece of advice to indie developers, it is that they send their most extroverted team member out there to speak to all those partners who can support you,” he told BusinessCloud.
“All of those 90 people I, or one of my team, have met at a networking event or through a friend of a friend.
“There wouldn’t have been a game without them. If you don’t talk to people, you won’t be able to fill the gaps in your skillset.”
‘Unbox Newbie’s Adventure’ is a physics-oriented platformer about cardboard boxes which contains single player campaigns, challenges, boss battles, split-screen racing and arena battling.
It has a 92 per cent positive rating on the Steam platform.
“I think we think we’re the first game ever to have a cardboard character as the main protagonist!” Bennison said. “It’s a big love letter to the Nineties and classics like Super Mario and Banjo Kazooie.
“The problem for indies these days is that the market is completely saturated. In January of this year alone, there were 700 games that came out on Steam.
“It’s not good enough now to have a fun game – you’ve also got to make sure it stands out with a great art style and a marketing campaign which pushes it from day one.
“A lot of game developers neglect these other areas and it ends up biting them in the ass when it comes to launch.”
Two members of the Prospect Games team
Unlike many indies, Manchester-based Prospect has released its game into the retail market rather than solely through digital downloads.
“Early on we learnt from publishers that the retail market is still alive and kicking, but it’s difficult to break into it because you need a lot of specialist skillsets,” Bennison said.
“An indie developer is very unlikely to be able to do their own boxed copies because of all the contacts and money you need on the front end.
“It felt as though if we wanted to stand out and make a decent amount of money, it’d be foolish to ignore retail completely.
“Our publisher Merge Games helped fund, promote and provide us with a route to market.”
The team is now porting the game for Nintendo’s new Switch console, which has a rapidly growing install base of 4.8 million units but only 90 games available – a situation indies like Prospect Games are looking to take advantage of.
“Making the game has given me the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Bennison added.
“No matter how bad it got, the main positive is we are still here – we were able to weather the storms and get through it.”