Chris Taylor, head of Gas Powered Games, said that being independent from major publishers can be a strength, when wielded correctly.
Gas Powered Games has been on its own for the last 12 years, and Chris Taylor has used its independence to make the games that he wants to make. He made Dungeon Siege back in 2002 because he wanted to. Before Supreme Commander came out in 2007, Taylor lost a publisher and funding dried up, but he still made the game by pushing development ahead. Now with the recently announced Kings and Castles, Gas Powered Games is learning how to leverage its very “independent-ness” by marketing a game with video logs and trailers, before a publisher or distribution deal are even lined up.
“What we often see, especially being an independent these last 20 years, is that we’d keep our concepts quiet, we wouldn’t tell anyone, we’d go out and talk to the publishers, and that might mean 10 or 20 publishers at best, and they decide whether they like the concept or not,” Taylor told Gamasutra. “So even though we were an independent studio, or the industry was full of independent studios, there was still this ‘go ask mom and dad’ mentality to it, which to me doesn’t really sound independent.” He continued:
“This business is hard, there’s resistance pushing you back, and you have to bring that storm and go forward. How do you do that? You capture human energy,” said Taylor. Hopefully his series of vlogs will bring his independent mindset to the gaming industry.
So far, it appears to be working. The first vlog for Kings and Castles garnered over 20k views in the first few days it was out, despite having no publisher or distributor. Taylor was impressed: “That says to me, wow, the world really cares … which means we need to continue.”
It may help that Taylor’s personality is perfect for TV. He’s funny, and certainly knows how to turn a phrase. “Independent developers have the ability to maneuver,” he said before dropping a sweet ass metaphor on us. “Think of us as the little ship that gets to maneuver around the big ships. If we don’t exercise that ability to maneuver, then we’re just giving up on a major strength.”
If the whole design thing doesn’t work out, maybe Chris Taylor would want to work as a game journalist.