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Consoles must offer self-publishing to attract indies, says Jackbox

Consoles must offer self-publishing to attract indies, says Jackbox

Mon 01 Jul 2013 2:06pm GMT / 10:06am EDT / 7:06am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

You Don't Know Jack studio expanding IPs and platforms, not exploring traditional consoles without self-publishing

For years, development studio Jellyvision partnered with big-name publishers to get new installments of its You Don't Know Jack franchise onto store shelves. Now the company has a new name--Jackbox Games--and a new approach. Speaking with GamesIndustry International, Jackbox Games GM Mike Bilder said Jackbox is looking to expand its catalog far beyond You Don't Know Jack, bringing original intellectual properties to mobile devices, PCs, and consoles, whether they be from the Big Three or any of the upstart companies offering their own set-top boxes.

"Trying to hit consoles and retail releases required us to get a large publisher to back us, but these new platforms have allowed us to go into self-publishing," Bilder said. "We can create new IP, You Don't Know Jack on different platforms, and we can self-publish them on mobile, social channels, some of the next-gen consoles, and some of the indie consoles that are coming out. As you've seen, we're on the Ouya now. So it's just a market opportunity for us."

Bilder said Jackbox has always wanted to branch out beyond You Don't Know Jack before--he reckons the game's writers have exhausted all possible This-or-That and Either-Or trivia questions--but there have always been too many hurdles with traditional console publishing.

"That's a much harder thing to do, to convince a publisher to spend quite a bit of money on you on something that's unknown," Bilder said. "In this case, these new platforms allow us to be more nimble. They don't require the big development budget of a full retail release on a console. And then there's also some fun in the ability to customize for the particular platform and user you're going after."

While Bilder isn't ruling out traditional console development on the next-gen systems, he said the company is only exploring it on consoles where Jackbox would be able to self-publish its titles.

"It certainly seems like Sony are embracing indie developers and self-publishing models," Bilder said. "I'll be curious to watch how that unfolds, and I'll certainly explore it from our perspective to see if it's a viable opportunity. I can't speak for everyone else, but I know there are certainly hurdles that exist on other platforms...I think this next console cycle will be very telling on how the big platforms embrace--or don't--the smaller indies and self-publishing studios."

Jackbox's first forays beyond the You Don't Know Jack series are already available on mobile devices. The company recently launched the trivia game Lie Swatter on iOS, while the photo editing app Clone Booth debuted earlier this week on Android and iOS devices. It has also released versions of You Don't Know Jack for Facebook and Ouya.

11 Comments

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Sony and Nintendo are open to self publishing on the PS4 and Wii U respectively.

And MS may eventually given that it seems like they want to reverse course on just about everything lately.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Jim Perry Programmer

12 23 1.9
"Sony ... open to self publishing on the PS4..."

Really? Where did you see this?

Posted:A year ago

#2

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Jim, they announced it during their E3 Press Conference.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Jonathan Neves President & Founder, A Maniacal Game

1 1 1.0
After all the horror stories from various Indie developers regarding Microsoft, we've sworn them off. There's only so much that the community can take from corporate oversight. After Microsoft abandoned XNA it's clear they don't care about Indie developers any longer, no matter how many times they want to back-pedal on their policies.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
They said the same thing to us about Vita before it was a thing. We gave up after four months because the end was so far out of sight that even a tiny firm like ours decided it was better to throw away eight months of work than soldier on spending and dicking about on stuff that's not needed.

That four months started when we submitted a beta btw, it's not from the start of development. There's just a difference between what the giants consider to be "indie" and what most indies do. That will never change, there's too big a gulf between the mindsets required.

Posted:A year ago

#5
I just wonder that the vulnerability of the mid-size independent studio business is such that even thinking of supporting Gen-8 consoles is feasible?

Is the thought for the console brigade on the need for a 'killer app' and that they missed Minecraft, and they missed STEAM. So why not try and kill off the independents by raising the bar to publish so high it can ensure their market dominance? As was said in other forums, depending wholly on AAA-titles is not realistic in the current climate.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
After Microsoft abandoned XNA it's clear they don't care about Indie developers any longer, no matter how many times they want to back-pedal on their policies.
XNA is only a tech. If they indeed allow Windows8 app-games on the Xb1, thats all what an indie needs.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Some points:

The 3 big platform holders, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are too locked into history to handle modern reality. They persist in looking after bricks and mortar retail by adhering with plastic and cardboard IP distribution. This is stupid at many levels and leaves them open to being outflanked.

Publishing involves three core competences, curation, finance and marketing. Self publishers very often think that they can just make their brilliant product and the customers will come. The evidence is that this is a fallacious view that ends in tears.

Curation by platform holders has an interesting effect:
None. Android. A jungle where anything goes. Including phishing, adware, viruses, copyright breaches and much else.
Limited. Apple. Despite glitches, uneven policing and visibility problems this works well.
Stasi. At Codemasters we had a game turned down by SCEA that was accepted by SCEE. When you have invested millions you don't need this arbitrary threat to your business.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
>> Stasi. At Codemasters we had a game turned down by SCEA that was accepted by SCEE. When you have invested millions you don't need this arbitrary threat to your business.

Amen, we had exactly that issue once. So that's them off the radar also.

I get tired of hearing this bullshit about "indie friendly" tbh. I think they must be talking about companies like Valve when they talk of indies. Definitley not four guys in a basement who don't have a full QA department, a translation service, a legal service, a marketing department, a pr department, worldwide trademark applications, ........ <ad infinitum>. You know, actual INDIES.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore

60 41 0.7
Time has gone for platform holder to think like :
"what if there is problem with your game if you self publish? who/how will deal with the customer relations...? (so you need publishers! )"

I think players has grown up enough to not blame platform holders for rubbish self published games. I rarely think that people will blame MS or Sony for lack of support of some games. Look at IOS and Android, nobody is blaming them for countless crap games in there.

But I do agree that there should be some kind of quality control.

Posted:A year ago

#10

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