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Skybound targets eight to ten game releases a year

The Walking Dead company details its video game publishing plans

Skybound's new games publishing division hopes to release up to ten games a year, says the firm's new head of publishing.

505 Games founder Ian Howe joined the firm last year to set-up Skybound Games, which is a separate department to Skybound Interactive. Whereas Interactive specialises in licensing Skybound IP - such as The Walking Dead - into mobile and console titles, Games is all about releasing titles for third-party studios.

"Our Games division is really an extension and evolution of what Dan [Murray] and the Interactive team have been doing," Howe explains to GamesIndustry.biz. "Up until now, we've largely focused on a licensing approach with our intellectual property, but there was always the desire to take more direct participation of the process."

Skybound Games says it has the capacity to utilise its parent company's IPs, but it's also on the hunt for new products. The first games in its roster are all brand new IP, including Hinterland's first person survival game The Long Dark, and Monomi Park's quirky intergalactic farming simulator Slime Rancher.

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Skybound Games boss Ian Howe

The publishing services the company boasts includes all the typical sales and marketing functions, and also features boxed distribution. In terms of IP ownership, although Howe acknowledges that it's often part of the conversation, "it's not something that we have to own."   "Every developer has different needs, different objectives and a different approach," he continues. "Tailoring our approach on a deal-by-deal basis is fundamental to the model, so there are no hard and fast rules."

It sounds pretty familiar to what Howe's previous company, 505 Games, offers its partners, and indeed the countless other indie publishers that exist in the market today.

Howe believes, however, that Skybound has certain qualities that means it can behave a little differently to its myriad of competitors.

"We can take an IP and really take it to the next level," Howe explains. "We have a first-look deal with Universal for movie development and a similar deal in TV with Amazon. We're widely recognised as one of the leading comic book publishers globally and we have a new division handling more traditional literature with a partnership with Simon & Shuster. We have our own in-house merchandising and events team and so we're already present at the relevant consumer shows such as PAX and Comic-Con.

"Time will tell how long the boxed market remains a viable proposition, but my personal view is that it's not going away any time soon"

"We also have a full in-house team dedicated to digital content, so if it's a short gameplay trailer or a 30-minute documentary, we can develop and produce everything in house, which really creates amazing efficiencies and reduces costs significantly. We also work closely with a wide range of influencers on more than just video games content, so in most circumstances we're able to find relevant partners who can really increase awareness on new IPs.

"In addition, we have our Skybound Insiders program, which is a community of 2.5 million people who've signed up to get the latest news from Skybound. We've got some exciting plans for this program and will be offering some really cool exclusives to our Insiders."

One of the areas that it believes Skybound will excel in is retail. Although some indie publishing rivals do boxed product, it's not a service everybody offers. But Howe believes it's something that creators still view as important, at least for the time being.

"Many independent developers are capable of self-publishing their titles digitally. It's not easy, as anyone who's been through the process will attest, but retail is a different story and it would be nearly impossible for a developer to set up the required infrastructure to handle it," Howe says.

"That's why I felt it was important to offer as a service. There is a significant part of our audience that still prefers to buy their games in a box and so being able to facilitate that for the titles we publish is very important.

"Time will tell how long the boxed market remains a viable proposition, but my personal view is that it's not going away any time soon. It will continue to evolve and there will likely be major changes over the next couple of years, but I don't see it going away completely for many years."

Skybound's first published game, The Long Dark, is scheduled for release on September 4th

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