Building a game company from the ground up with Jason Wishnov of Iridium Studios
Game designer Jason Wishnov of Iridium Studios takes time to answer a few questions from game lawyer Zachary Strebeck about starting a game company, running a successful Kickstarter and getting Wil Wheaton to be in his game.
Welcome! Can you tell the readers a bit about you, the company and the projects you’ve worked on?
Hi, y’all! I’m Jason Wishnov, head of indie game studio Iridium Studios. Our first project, Sequence, was a rhythm/RPG hybrid, and has sold over 150,000 copies on Steam. We’re currently working on a game called There Came an Echo, a voice-controlled squad-based real-time strategy game. Yeah, a lot of hyphens, we know.
Your first game, Sequence, had a very modest Kickstarter goal of $600. Can you tell me about that, why you chose to have such a small goal and why you went with Kickstarter?
I funded Sequence back in March of 2010. I had never even heard of Kickstarter, nor had the internet at large, and at that point, any amount of money would have been nice to help finish out the production. I didn’t expect it to gain much, so I kept the goal low, to ensure I got something. Sequence also has the honor of being the first ever Kickstarted game to release on Steam.
Iridium Games – There Came an Echo
Now, your second project, There Came an Echo, had a much larger goal and was still successful. What do you think contributed to your increased success in moving from one project to another?
Well, Kickstarter was a much more popular platform in 2013, of course. Having Wil Wheaton on-board really gave us a sense of legitimacy, I think, as well as having already successfully run a Kickstarter campaign prior. We’re trying to be the first studio to release *two* Kickstarter games on Steam, but we’ll see.
How did you manage to get Wil Wheaton?
We called his agent, offered the project, and he said yes. Went back and forth with negotiations for [a] while, but it was worth it. = D Super excited to work with him and rest of the talented cast.
What sort of business entity did you go with for Iridium Studios, if any? Why did you choose that route?
We’re a Limited Liability Company (for legal protection), but we elected to be taxed as an S-Corp by submitting IRS Form 2553. This gives us the tax benefits of an S-Corp without most of the bureaucratic nightmare that comes with it.
How is your company structured? Are you all partners, do you use independent contractors, or are the artists and others employees of the company?
No partners; I’m the sole owner. I have three employees under standard W-2, and several 1099 contractors that I use for various smaller jobs that help us out.
Have you found the need to involve any professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, in your company?
I use Intuit, software that helps with payroll, and an accountant. Why not? The amount of money they save me every year is probably staggering. Business and accounting were never quite my strong suits, so I’m happy to leave it to the professionals.
Let’s talk about the next-gen consoles and indie games. Do you think that the new consoles are offering new opportunities for devs?
The new consoles have been VERY friendly to indies, as they realize that the indie market is growing steadily year after year. It’s definitely a new opportunity, and the representatives have been great. That was a boring answer, wasn’t it? But true. = D
Well, that’s it. Thanks to Jason for taking the time to answer my questions! Best of luck to Iridium Studios in the future.
I’ve been told that there is a new trailer for “There Came an Echo” going up today, so keep an eye out on Iridium Games’ website for more info.
If you are thinking of starting your own studio or running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new game, why not contact a game lawyer for a free consultation?