GameStop has announced a new publishing initiative called GameTrust, which aims to build on their publishing efforts on Insomniac’s Song of the Deep by expanding to a full publishing platform for mid-sized developers.
The first developers signed on to this new venture include the aforementioned Insomniac Games, The Order: 1886 developer Ready at Dawn, the Spanish studio Tequila Works, and Finnish studio Frozenbyte, most known for the Trine series.
GameTrust’s announcement states the company will not participate in the creative process when working with signed developers. Instead it intends to focus its efforts on facilitating distribution through its retail and online stores, as well as digital platforms including Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Store, and other digital platforms.
Speaking with Gamasutra at an Insomniac Games media event in Burbank, Vice President of Internal Development and Diversification Mark Stanley states this effort furthers GameStop’s goals to reduce core game sales revenue to 50% of total revenue by 2017.
“This is another division that makes sense. Most of the challenges that developers face include two things: ‘How do we get to market?’ and ‘how do we retain full creative control of what we're making?’ Through traditional publishing models, those are really tough pieces.”
Unusually, Stanley also confirms that GameTrust’s lack of creative participation also means the publisher won’t be providing QA or localization services for signed developers, though external support can certainly be brought in if developers require it.
Much of GameTrust’s intent seems to be focused in supporting mid-tier games around the $15 million mark, and turning that tier of games into one that can support a multimedia brand.
Of course, a game retailer choosing to get into the publishing business does raise concerns and competition and Monopoly, of which Stanley said one of the major of GameTrust is not to build a major publishing arm. “GameTrust is a separate vertical for a reason,” says Stanley, “so we can't be working with the core merchandising team with all the publishers. They need to focus on that, that is the bread and butter of GameStop.”
“We're also focusing on smaller games, and although we're going to put a lot behind them, we're staying away from the fourth quarter area. Our games won't be launching in that Q4 timeframe when there are AAAs launching all over the place.”
Stanley’s comments, and GameStop’s purchase of Thinkgeek midway through 2015, help bring some coherency to the store’s shift from games-only operations to games and merchandise.
With much of GameTrust’s interest in developing strong intellectual properties, it’s clear the company is interested in using the games as a base product for encouraging customers to spend more and more on merchandise, converting a $60 purchase into something more with each additional toy or book or other items.