A NEW HOPE FOR INDIES
SHAKING UP THE TRADITIONAL MODEL
For decades the film and music industries have enjoyed independent investment and production services to help independent artists bring their dreams to fruition, with film production companies such as Troma, IFC and A24 helping to produce a huge number of films without the restrictions placed on artists by larger studios, and independent music producers being a staple of the recording industry since the advent of recording. Now, in 2017, the independent gaming world is getting the same service from Good Shepherd.
FROM DEVELOPER TO PUBLISHER
Founded in 2011 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Gambitious Digital Entertainment, a combined crowdfunding portal and indie game publisher has so far signed, funded and released 18 games over eight di fferent gaming platforms. 12 of these games attained profitability within the first twelve months of release, a number of those made profit within the first few months. Rather than rest on its laurels and continue business as usual, Gambitious has rebranded and changed the role of the business from crowd-funder and publisher to investment portal and producer and the name of the company to Good Shepherd.
“This new wave of indies that Devolver and Gambitious have worked with to create new hit franchises are even smaller; Hotline Miami was made by two people, Reigns by two, Downwell by one, Enter The Gungeon by four, Broforce by six... Small is good, small is creative, small is powerful! It has always been thus, but I think the industry did forget this and get lost in the race to get big in the late 90s and early 00s. We love this time in the industry more than any time in our careers for the sheer originality of games coming from such a wide new range of developers from all over the world.”, says Mike Wilson, co-founder of Devolver Digital, the largest indie games publisher in operation, and Gambitious/ Good Shepherd.
THE INDIE ENABLER
The main problem with these small teams of developers is that it can be dicult for them to have access to all of the talent, let alone money they need to complete their projects. This is where Good Shepherd comes in. Rather than simply acting as a publisher, the rebranded company will act as a producer and facilitator for indie development teams. “We provide everything a developer needs to see their creation through to release and beyond”, says Wilson, “from development/ completion funds, testing and localisation help (we ship most games in nine to 11 languages now), global PR teams, industry and shows, social media, ads and trailer production... it goes on. But Good Shepherd is also excited to help indies with writing, music, and voice acting whenever possible, to help raise the production values of indie games that can often fall by the wayside due to a lack of resources or connections”.
CHANGING THE GAME FOR THE LITTLE GUYS
As with the other entertainment industries in which such independent production organisations have existed for years, there are no hard and fast rules for developers to attract the notice of Good Shepherd. Developers can submit their game for consideration through the company’s website, but Mike Wilson also says that Good Shepherd will also be proactive in searching for development teams to foster, which is done by approaching teams discovered through footage viewed online, at game convention or recommended through word of mouth.
The change of focus and name also comes with a rather drastic change of scale. Gambitious formerly had two oces – one in Los Angeles and one in Amsterdam – but will now have a presence in seven di erent time zones. In addition to the two existing oces, seven new oces will be opening in Austin Texas, London, Seattle Washington, Gothenburg Sweden, Victoria Australia, Harrisburg Pennsylvania and Halifax Nova Scotia (Canada). An upcoming Russian presence has also been teased.
Good Shepherd is currently working with developers on five games that definitely reflect the new global reach of the company. These are: the Italian pixel action game modelled after the Poliziotteshi (Italian crime films heavily influences by Dirty Harry) of the 70s, Milanoir; American storytelling game of hoboes and folklore, Where the Water Tastes like Wine; the French developed evil lair simulator, Machiavillain; British Cold War Space Station mystery, Outreach and a mystery game titled Phantom Doctrine.
“Small is good, small is creative, small is powerful!”