Horror Shooter GTFO Launches Into Early Access, Partners With Green Man Gaming In New Digital Partners Programme

Delving into the business side of the video game industry isn’t pretty. Beneath the hype of new releases or all the flashy presentations at shows like E3, gaming is a web of studios, publishers, contractors, and distributors, all looking for their slice of the pie. Just assembling a talented team isn’t good enough. Even if you manage to finish the game, do you have someone that can handle the code for multiplayer? If not, do you have the budget to hire a contractor? Even once the game is done, how do you plan to advertise? Who will manage your press releases, and make sure that influencers and media get codes? Do you have someone to manage the growing community? If you don’t have enough money for all of this, should you partner with a publisher to handle all of the big picture stuff? And once that’s all handled, how much cut does the distributor take? And what about console releases? Do you handle that yourself, or hire a new studio?

No matter if you’re the biggest of the big or the smallest indie team, all game developers have to wrestle with these questions if they want to succeed. With the myriad of options available, there isn’t a clear correct answer. Furthermore, companies don’t often act as a single entity. Your marketing company might also function as a publisher. Sometimes publishers are left with an IP after the developers abandon it, and have to then become the IP owners and new developers. It’s becoming more common for publishers to also function as distributors, creating their own digital storefronts (Origin, Epic Game Store) so as not to lose profit. What’s rarer is for a storefront to throw its hat into the publishing world. Which is what it seems Green Man Gaming is doing with its new Digital Partners Programme.

Announced today, Green Man Gaming is partnering with 10 Chambers Collective for the release of their new horror shooter, GTFO. GTFO launched today into Early Access and is available for purchase here (BE WARNED, as of now there is no matchmaking). The studio’s partnership with Green Man Gaming is designed to help the game go from Early Access to final release to the greatest benefit of both parties. How will they do this? As far as I can tell, it has to do with the flexibility of the terms. Here’s the info from the Official Press Release:

Today Green Man Gaming launched its Digital Partners Programme by revealing details of a new global partnership deal with 10 Chambers Collective; the first studio to be announced as part of this new service proposition for indie studios and developers.

A fresh approach to empowering and enabling indie studios and developers to raise their profile and successfully navigate their route to market, The Digital Partners Programme by Green Man Gaming has been specifically designed to be a collaborative, flexible, and valuable service that allows developers to retain control of their revenue and IP whilst accessing an elastic range of services and expertise.

Paul Sulyok, CEO Green Man Gaming said, “Over the last 6 months we’ve been working on this new service proposition in reaction to what we think are dusty old school publishing and distribution models. We’ve taken everything we’ve learned from working with indie studios and devs over the past decade and applied this to create the Digital Partners Programme. We’ll be there to help when and where it’s needed. We’ve stripped away any unnecessary, bloated fixed terms to instead offer greater choice and flexibility with access to our publishing, distribution, retail, marketing and community expertise all in one contract that directly connects developers to every digital retailer on the planet. I don’t believe there’s anyone else but the Green Man Gaming team who is able to deliver a more customizable digital partnership that is of true value to developers.”

Ian McGregor, CMO Green Man Gaming said, “What makes this launch really special for us is being able to announce and welcome 10 Chambers Collective as the first studio to be part of the Digital Partners Programme. We are really flattered that they have chosen us to support them on the early access launch of GTFO on 9th December. For GTFO, Green Man Gaming will together with 10 Chambers Collective focus on a global distribution strategy that ensures the game reaches as many gamers as possible, as opposed to a publishing contract that would also include product readiness and a marketing strategy. To be working with such great studio talent and helping them succeed in a way that is tailored to suit them is what this new Digital Partners Programme is all about.”

Oscar J-T Holm, Co-Founder of 10 Chamber Collective said, “We are really proud of our community and our GTFO ambassadors who have already helped us share what the game is about. GTFO is not for everyone, but there are players around the world who love a hardcore co-op challenge that have been eagerly waiting for the game to hit Early Access. We were looking for a very specific type of support as part of our preparation for today, and were struggling to find a deal that wasn’t just another one-type-fits-all or included terms that just wouldn’t work for us. That was until we collaborated with Green Man Gaming as part of this new Digital Partners Programme. Having them focus on one area of the launch has been a huge help and we can’t wait to now welcome more people into the game.”

Now, I’m not a business expert, but I do basically read press releases for a living. There’s a lot of marketing speak to parse through, which is a nice way of saying they cracked open a thesaurus to say the same thing 10 times without any of the specifics. If my analysis is correct, the new Digital Partnership Programme is a negotiable contract for video game support roles. Those non-developer jobs I mentioned earlier (publishing, contracting, distribution, etc.)? They can be managed by GMG as the needs arise. This also means that the developers won’t be under obligation to hit specific milestones just to please the publisher.

This kind of flexible development support is useful for a game like GTFO. Tailored to the very specific niche market of hardcore cooperative horror shooter fans, it’s unclear how much time and testing it will require for the game to be finished. Furthermore, the Rundown system promises an endlessly rotating slate of content. These discrete development cycles will allow them to focus on improving and testing different content without having to polish it into a finalized feature. It’s good for testing new stuff, not so good for marketing the game as a complete package. The variable marketing and support package will help 10 Chambers Collective promote and develop these features without requiring them to be implemented as milestones.

At least, that’s the theory. As of yet, I haven’t found any details as to how it all specifically works. Maybe Green Man Gaming just wants to get into publishing and had a check large enough to entice 10 Chambers Collective into signing up. We will have to wait and see how it all shakes out. This is a case where time will tell if other indie studios also go sign up, and what their experience is. It’s a new service, so it’s not yet clear if this will be the next big thing in digital publishing or just an experiment to bump GMG’s quarterly profits. GMG is a key retailer, which essentially makes them the middleman between publishers and consumers. They don’t own the game’s rights or even the storefront; keys are redeemed to Steam/PSN. It’s easy to see why they would want to move into a more direct relationship with developers to solidify their stake in the industry. I guess we will just have to find out as the years go on. Until then, check out GTFO on GMG, and hit me up if you want to try it out!

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