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Relentless moves towards digital future

Developer going multi-platform with new IP as it embraces new independence

Relentless Software, the developer behind the hugely successful Buzz series and murder mystery puzzler Blue Toad Murder Files, will be moving towards digital distribution and away from platform exclusivity after its deal with Sony ended amicably last year.

Speaking in an interview to be published next week, co-founder Andrew Eades told that the company is making a definite move toward online distribution, enticed by the model's flexibility and control, although disc-based products are not completely off the developers agenda.

"Our real strategy going forward is to change the company from a disc-based, console games company only - which is what we were, we were only PlayStation 3, we were only console, we were only quiz, in fact," said Eades. "We wanted to change the company to have much more breadth and embrace the new digital platforms we saw coming in.

"We'd already started that, in a way, with Blue Toad Murder Files which we released in the back end of 2009. That was more than an experiment - how do we become a self-publishing developer? We were still Sony exclusive when we did that, which is why it was exclusive to PlayStation."

Blue Toad Murder Files has since seen a release on PC, via digital service Steam, and is still selling well on the PlayStation Network, thanks to a staggered marketing and sales strategy which has enabled the developer to experiment as it enters the world of self-publishing.

"So we're experimenting with digital, episodic - the interesting thing we've found out with Blue Toad is that, almost a year after its first launch we're still selling it in different ways. We've had a sixty per cent uplift in sales through the advent calendar theme bundle pack. You can't do this on disc.

"You can't have a big first weekend for a family product, you have to have a longer view. The bricks-and-mortar retail method doesn't really work for the sort of games we want to make.

"If I compare Call of Duty to a Buzz game, the production values in Buzz are exemplary - they're superb and I'm very proud of that game - but we don't have the kind of multi-million marketing push and development budgets that Call of Duty clearly has.

"The whole retail market is becoming very much about pillar titles for a hardcore audience - so we have to find a new way to get to our audience, and that is digital, episodic, various different platforms - including PlayStation, that remains our main platform."

The near future should hold some exciting prospects for the company, which is planning a new title next year and a brand-new IP soon after, and Eades has lofty ambitions for the coming years.

"It's not just about the main consoles anymore. Look at what people have plugged in to their TVs these days. PlayStations and Xboxes have a place under many people's TVs, but there's also satellite boxes, Apple TVs, Google TVs, internet connected TVs.

"They all have more and more computational power, and that's all we need. That processor power to deliver our games and the internet connection to distribute them and we're in the living room just as any broadcast TV is. That's my aim, to make games for anyone who has a TV. That's what we're pushing towards at Relentless."

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