Manchester, UK, 3rd October 2006
Veteran video game designers John Pickford and Ste Pickford announce the launch of two new ventures in the field of independent ('indie') video games.
The brothers, who previously founded the successful development studios Zippo Games in the 1980s, and Zed Two in the 1990s, will now develop new, original, video games under the name The Pickford Brothers. "The Pickford Brothers isn't another big devco, it's just Ste and I exploring original game concepts and creating new video game IP. It's more like a laboratory than a studio," says John Pickford, the elder of the two brothers.
The Pickford Brothers plan to self-fund new 'indie' video games, with their first title 'Naked War' already complete, and further titles under development.
"Great game ideas don't need millions of dollars to develop - if anything too much money and too many staff can get in the way when you're trying to design something new," explains John, "so we're sacrificing big budgets and massive development teams to produce smaller scale, more interesting games."
In addition to creating new video games of their own, The Pickford Brothers are also working with established developers on new game concepts based on existing IP.
"We've been coming up with successful, original game ideas for over 20 years now. In that time we've got better and better at designing the games, but it takes longer and longer to develop the finished products," says John.
"We come up with more game ideas and make far more prototypes than we could ever develop as full games, so working with established developers on concepts and pitches makes sense for both of us," explains Ste, "they get fresh concepts created outside the pressure-cooker development environment, and we get an outlet for the ideas we'd normally have to shelve because we don't have time to bring them to market."
The Pickford Brothers have also formed a new licensing and publishing venture, Zee-3. Zee-3 will exclusively publish and distribute all new Pickford Brothers games over the internet, as well as license their IP for other video game platforms and other media.
"The emergence of broadband means the internet has now become a viable distribution medium for video games," says Ste. "Zee-3 won't be about shifting boxes and CDs. By delivering content digitally and exploiting our intellectual property through licensing there's an opportunity for us to reach an audience without needing the prohibitive levels of investment and infrastructure previously required," he adds.
Zee-3 will be a 'virtual company', based around its website rather than the expensive 'bricks and mortar' of offices and warehouses. Low overheads mean only modest sales are required for a title to be successful, affording Zee-3 the freedom to publish innovative, original and experimental video games.
"Small teams like us can now publish our games and reach an audience without worrying about having to selling at least 200,000 copies just to break even," says John.
"Our dev costs are low and our distribution costs are lower, so we don't need to make safe, lowest common denominator products in order to make a living," he continued.
The brothers believe that making small scale, low budget games, on open platforms like the PC, will allow the kind of experimentation and innovation which has been squeezed out of the mainstream video game
"Console games have become incredibly expensive to make, so it's understandable that there's an unwillingness to take risks with unproven concepts, but without a constant flow of new ideas and innovations there's a danger the industry will grow stale," explains Ste.
"The freedom of small scale self-publishing allows people like us to experiment with new game concepts. We believe that the video game 'indie' space will become the breeding ground for the mainstream hits of tomorrow, rather like the way the indie music scene, or arthouse movies feed talent into Hollywood and the major record labels," he added.
Find out more about The Pickford Brothers and Zee-3 on the Zee 3 website: http://www.zee-3.com
The Pickford Brothers' first 'indie' game, Naked War, is available now on PC from: http://www.naked-war.com
John was born in Stockport, near Manchester, UK, in 1967, and became interested in home computers aged 13, teaching himself to program in BASIC on a Sinclair ZX81. John sold his first commercial game, Ghost Town, to Virgin games while still at High School, then left to join the newly formed proto-developer Binary Design as their ZX Spectrum programmer in 1986, designing and programming home computer games like Glider Rider, Zub, Feud and Amaurote. Forming Zippo games with his brother in the late 1980s, John helped create NES classics such as Solar Jetman and Ironsword for Rare and Nintendo, before selling up and turning the studio into Rare Manchester. John joined Software Creations in the early 1990s, becoming senior Producer and designing SNES classics such as Equinox, Plok and Maximum Carnage, before leaving to form the studio Zed Two in 1996, where he co-created Wetrix, AquaAqua and Future Tactics.
Ste was born in Stockport, near Manchester, UK, in 1969, and drew the graphics for his first game (Ghosts 'n' Goblins on the Amstrad CPC) whilst still at High School, aged 15. Ste became Art Directory at proto developer Binary Design just a year later, working on dozens of hit computer games including Glider Rider, 180, Zub, and Feud. Forming Zippo games with his brother in the late 1980s, Ste helped create NES classics such as Solar Jetman and Ironsword for Rare and Nintendo, before selling up and turning the studio into Rare Manchester. Ste joined Software Creations in the early 1990s, becoming Art Director and designing SNES classics such as Equinox, Plok and Maximum Carnage, before leaving to form the studio Zed Two in 1996, where he co-created Wetrix, AquaAqua and Future Tactics.
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