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The future of publishing | Playable Futures Podcast

Roll7's Thomas Hegarty and Gearbox Amsterdam's Jean-Paul Hardy join Will Freeman for the fifth episode of our Playable Futures series

The latest of our Playable Futures series tackles the industry's foundational duo - publisher and developer - and looks at what the future holds for publishing in a sector in which the rate of change is rapid and accelerating. It's also one in which the balance between community, audience, developer and publisher has shifted irrevocably.

For Episode Five, presenter Will Freeman speaks to Jean-Paul Hardy, general manager of Gearbox Amsterdam, and Thomas Hegarty, founder and director of Roll7. Veterans of the publisher/developer relationship, the duo draw on their many years of experience in publishing and developing video games and take a long view on what is in store for the future.

You can listen to the episode in the player below or download the file directly here – and scroll down for some of the episode's highlights.

Hardy reflects on how things have changed since he started out, when the publisher was responsible for a game's launch and little else.

"When I started in the industry, you just launched and left. Print was king and if you had the budget you would do TV. Then all of a sudden online was the holy grail of marketing and publishing. I've seen 20 holy grails come by since then and these days it's all about data-driven things."

Today, as Hardy explains, publishing has evolved to encompass more than "simple" awareness.

"It's so many things and it only gets bigger and bigger. If you don't limit yourself and focus on key areas, you're going to get spread so thin. You won't be able to do everything properly."

Hegarty reflects on how specialist, nuanced and important marketing has become, as well as the value that a publisher's perspective can bring.

"As we've grown our ambition and our budgets grow, there's more risk attached to what we're doing. We can't just hope we've hit the right note. We've got to do the analysis and that's where working with a publisher has been really good."

Interestingly, they settle on certain fundamentals that seem to characterise the publisher/developer relationship whatever the era: trust and open, frank communication.

"The publisher still has that same love of gaming that a developer has," Hardy states. "They just look at it in a different way because we have different expertise."

"Community is absolutely key. It always has been," adds Hegarty, "There has been a big shift in the last couple of years where we actually see active changes within the game from people watching live on Twitch and that makes you think very differently about the game from the design point of view, which goes all the way through to how to release the game."

Are we looking at a future where the audience, developer, publisher and community become more interwoven? One thing is for sure: this episode leaves you thinking that the future is positive and exciting and, despite the inevitable challenges, good publisher / developer relations will provide plenty of solutions.

The Playable Futures Podcast accompanies Playable Futures, a collection of insights, interviews and articles from global games leaders sharing their visions of where the industry and medium will go next. A series of ten articles so far have been published on GamesIndustry.biz, with more planned. Playable Futures is a collaborative project brought to you in partnership with GI.biz, UKIE and Diva.

The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast is available via Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, Player FM, TuneIn and other widely-used podcast platforms, or you can subscribe via our RSS feed.

Title music by Thomas Marchant. Episode produced by Keira Freeman.

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