For Immediate Release
New York, New York -- September 28th, 2005
Game industry veterans Greg Costikyan and Johnny Wilson announced today that they are joining forces to launch Manifesto Games, a new venture to build a strong and viable independent game industry. Its site will offer independently-developed games for sale via direct download--a single place where fans of offbeat and niche games can find "the best of the rest," the games that the retail channel doesn't think worth carrying. Three types of games will be offered: truly independent, original content from creators without publisher funding; the best PC games from smaller PC game publishers, including games in existing genres like wargames, flight sims, and graphic adventures; and niche MMOs.
While games were once the domain of hobbyists, today, the game industry considers any title that sells fewer than 1 million copies to be a failure; "The typical game store only has 200 facings," notes Costikyan, Manifesto's CEO., "They can only carry best-sellers. On the Internet, there is no shelf space and you are limited only by how well you can market yourself, your site. This is where niche product can rule." Manifesto believes that an independent game market is analogous to film or music, where less commercial offerings aimed at identifiable markets and produced at lower budgets than the "blockbusters" can achieve profitability and critical success.
"The game industry has become moribund," notes Costikyan. "Because of ballooning budgets and the narrowness of the retail channel, it is now essentially impossible for anything other than a franchise title or licensed product to obtain distribution. Yet historically, the major hits, the titles that have expanded the industry to new markets and created new audiences have been highly innovative. It is time for us to find a way to foster innovation, because it's not going to happen if we leave it to the large publishers."
"Many companies are entering the direct download space," Costikyan continues, "but in most cases, they're either focusing on casual downloadable games, or on offering the back catalog of major publishers. It's amazing that casual game publishers can succeed selling games to people who, historically, haven't bought them, but we'd rather try to sell games to people who already buy them. By offering greater exposure to independent games, we'll be introducing gamers to a universe of games they haven't already seen--and that, we think, is the winning strategy."
"I left Ziff-Davis Publications after 18 years when I realized that electronic games were becoming so mass-market that they didn't have the appeal for me that they once had," says Johnny Wilson, Manifesto's Executive Vice President for Community and Content. "Games were becoming as homogenized as the movies. The big budgets required to keep pushing the technological envelope were proving to be self-fulfilling prophecies of an era of sequels, imitation and indistinguishable, derivative material. So, I moved back to table-top gaming for a while. Now, I am thrilled to realize that the downloadable potential of cerebral, thought-provoking 'indie' games is giving me a chance to move back to the kind of in-depth, exciting, quality coverage we enjoyed providing back 'in the day.' The only difference is that we're not 'back in the day,' we have a very real chance to create a 'new day.'"
Greg Costikyan will blog the entire process of building and funding the company at www.costik.com/weblog. In addition to games, the Manifesto site will include player reviews, blogs and articles. Manifesto expects to begin carrying original content by early 2006.
About Greg Costikyan: Greg Costikyan has designed more than 30 commercially published board, roleplaying, online, computer, and mobile games, including the first online game to attract more than 1 million players. He has written extensively on games, game design, and game industry business issues for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Salon, Game Developer magazine, and The Escapist. As a consultant, his clients have included IBM, Intel, the Sarnoff Corporation, France Telecom, Roland Berger & Partners, and Wieden + Kennedy. He was co-founder of Unplugged Games, one of the first North American mobile game start-ups, and is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplishment in the field. He recently left Nokia, where he served as a games researcher, to pursue this venture.
About Johnny Wilson: Dr. Johnny Wilson was an early partner in Computer Gaming World magazine, where he served as Editorial Director from 1981 through 1999. He then served as Group Publisher for the Wizards of the Coast magazines until he helped to spin them off to Paizo Publishing, where he served as President. He has written 9 books about games, and has given more than 200 radio and television interviews on the subject; including CNN, and the History Channel. He was the , the keynote speaker at the Game Developers Conference for two consecutive years and has lectured at MIT and UCLA. He is also an ordained minister and a novelist.
Manifesto Games can be found at www.manifestogames.com
Articles and relevant links can be found at www.manifestogames.com/prop.html
For more information, press inquiries or to set up an interview with Greg or Johnny, contact: