Sponsored By

Hooded Horse's Tim Bender doesn't think constant growth should define games

The Manor Lords publisher advocates for letting games be measured by their developer's own aspirations rather than the thinking of "number go up."

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 9, 2024

2 Min Read
Key art for the 2024 Early Access Manor Lords.
Image via Slavic Magic/Hooded Horse.

Tim Bender, CEO of Manor Lords publisher Hooded Horse, discussed why he thinks the way we measure games' success needs to evolve.

On LinkedIn, Bender highlighted a post claiming the game showed "the pitfalls of Early Access" due to its declining player base. Often, concurrent players can be used to gauge how a new (or old) game is doing at any given time.

But in his view, both industry analysts and players should stop eyeing games through a lens of immediate and constant growth. That line of thinking has caused "so much trouble" in the industry, and led to a "distorted endless growth" perspective.

"We need to move away from takes [like these]," he said. "Not every game should be aimed at becoming some live-service boom or bust."

He went on to say that Hooded Horse was "thrilled beyond belief" with how Manor Lords is doing, a sentiment shared by players and developer Slavic Magic. He recalled telling developer Greg Styczeń the mentality was inevitable, but to "focus on his core vision for the game."

"The Early Access road is long," continued Bender, "and Greg should not feel any sense of pressure from the expectations of others—for both his own health and stress levels over the coming years and for preserving the state of calm and peaceful mind that supports his creative vision."

Bender wants developers and players to gain better perspective

Bender has previously spoken about Manor Lords' success in recent months, saying in May that it exceeded Hooded Horse's initial projections. He's also been quick to stress that its success isn't really indicative of the publisher as a whole.

That same month, he advocated for indie developers to look at a publisher's low points to judge partnership potential. "The best way to judge a publisher is by the spread of all of their games, and [the games] that went badly," he advised.

"If you want some number that reflects the larger stuff, look at the median performance. [...] It's the consistency across their [portfolio] and how they worked on those games that didn't perform too well. How they support those developers and whether they stand by them."

On both the production and commercial ends of the business, Bender ultimately wants everyone to have good sense and properly understand the ways games can (and do) perform in the short and long-term.

"Success should not create an ever raising bar of new growth expectations," he concluded on LinkedIn. "A release should not begin an ever-accelerating treadmill on which devs are forced to run until their mental or physical health breaks down."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like