You’re no doubt studying the Train2Game Games Designer, Games Developer or Games & Animator course because you have a creative vision. You have an idea for an awesome game that you want to develop, publish and show the world.
It might be difficult to ‘sell’ your idea to a publisher, but that hasn’t stopped developers in the past, including those of Bejeweled – one of the most popular games of all time. The casual title has sold over 50 million copies since it was launched by PopCap ten years ago. The game has won countless awards and is available on PCs, iPhones and Facebook with 200 million games being played everyday.
However, things weren’t always so rosy as PopCap’s Dave Bishop told an audience at The Develop Conference yesterday. The industry veteran revealed that when the first build of the game was completed in 2000, a variety of publishers turned down the opportunity to buy Bejeweled for just $60,000. Given the success of the title in the decade since then, a few of them probably that regret that decision!
Bejeweled isn’t the only game that had trouble finding a publisher: Hello Games programmer Sean Murray also spoke at Develop yesterday and revealed that they struggled to find a publisher for Joe Danger. The game was eventually released through the PlayStation network selling 50,000 copies in its first week and was well received by critics. It therefore seems reasonable that Murray extracted some revenge on these unnamed publishers, and some of the reasons they had for declining Joe Danger had the Develop attendees laughing:
“Name me one popular game with motorbikes?”
”Collecting giant coins feels unrealistic to me”
”I can see this working as a Facebook app”
”We want games that are less about fun right now”
”We love the theme, but with a different game”
”We believe the iPhone will be largely unsupported”
”Can Joe be a monkey? We like Monkeys”
They verge on the ridiculous don’t they? A popular game with motorbikes, how about Road Rash or Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned!? Collecting giant coins seems to have worked for Mario over the years and whoever thought games weren’t supposed to be fun eh?
So, what message can Train2Game students take from the ballads of Bejeweled and Joe Danger? Well first of all it’s that you should never give up, as Bejeweled shows that even one of the most successful games of all time struggled to begin with. Secondly, these games show that you can’t always rely on a publisher to give you the support you think your game deserves. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet it’s now easier than ever to get your independent production out there with Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live all providing outlets for indie developers.
So, what do you think about the comments made at Develop yesterday? Do you think you’ll try to rely on a publisher, or will you take the self publishing route? As usual, leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.