RockYou is taking a step away from its traditional role developing popular social titles such as Zoo World
and Gourmet Ranch
with a new Studio Partners publisher program, launched today.
The effort grows out of RockYou's experience publishing the first two
titles from John Romero's Loot Drop social studio earlier this year, and will provide what RockYou's Josh Grant calls "a Chinese menu of services" from infrastructure and programming to marketing and analytics, depending on what a third-party studio needs.
"We've realized that as production values in [social] games increase in complexity -- with more distribution network opportunities on the front end and infrastructure requirements continuing to grow -- it requires more and more time and energy and investment outside of the creative aspects of game design and development," Grant told Gamasutra.
"Our approach will resemble some of the more traditional services one would find in publishing in traditional video games," he continued. "I think we’re seeing the market evolving away from a handful of guys getting together and making a game in a few months and launch that on a platform like Facebook and well up on its own to a million DAUs."
"What we’re seeing now is very reminiscent of the traditional games market has evolved, and we feel there’s a great opportunity to step in and provide those traditional publisher functions."
Grant said he thinks RockYou can provide a more flexible suite of services than similar social publishing outfits that have popped up, which he says tend to fall too far on either end of the support spectrum.
"Basically it's a dressed up distribution deal that largely involves just cross-promotion, or it's a full-on acquisition," Grant said of similar services. "While those are appropriate in some cases, there are a number developers and studios that really value their independence and their freedom. We feel like our approach to publishing and our flexibility on the services and our infrastructure and support allows them to realize their creative vision and hopefully do it on a greater scale, but still retain independence of the studio and their IP."
Companies that sign on with RockYou will also benefit from the company's experience making games, Grant said, getting advice from an experienced stable of designers and having access to a fully developed set of best practices.
The company is specifically looking to fill two holes in its planned lineup for the second half of the year -- one aimed at a female casual audience, and the other more of a "gamers game" to tie in with an upcoming science fiction game launch from RockYou. While other projects could be added on as an affiliate relationship, RockYou will be able to give the full force of its support to these two "tentpole" projects, Grant said.
"We’re effectively treating it as if it's an owned-and-operated game as far as the resources, both on the marketing and distribution side as well as the internal team," Grant said of these two projects it's seeking. "These types of games are complementary with the kinds of games we have in our pipeline right now, and present a great opportunity to get people into the RockYou network, engage them with multiple titles over time and keep them longer in the network."
Studios looking for more information can contact Grant directly