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Q&A: Got Game On PC Adventures, PSP Plans

Gamasutra chats with adventure game veteran Howard Horowitz about his U.S. indie PC publisher Got Game Entertainment (Bad Mojo: Redux, Laser Squad Nemesis), finding and maintaining a mainstream audience, the future of adventure gaming, and the comp

Alistair Wallis, Blogger

January 15, 2007

6 Min Read

Got Game Entertainment is a small independent U.S. publisher founded in early 2002 by Howard Horowitz, an adventure game aficionado who has previously worked for companies like Sierra Online. The company made their name publishing adventure titles, but have branched out, with some success, into casual games and other genres. This push into mainstream publishing continues in 2007 with the release of casual title Brickshooter Egypt at the end of January – though this certainly doesn’t mean that the company are abandoning their roots. Just prior to the end of 2006, they announced the intended first quarter US release of Penumbra: Overture - a first person horror-adventure game developed by Frictional Games and published in the UK by Lexicon Entertainment. Since niche publishers often provide some of the more interesting content available on the market, Gamasutra spoke to Horowitz about Got Game Entertainment’s initial genre focus, their current stylistic expansion, and his own views on the future of adventure gaming. When was Got Game Entertainment formed, and what were your aims for the company? Got Game Entertainment was formed January 2002, with the vision to publish and offer consumers entertaining games. What challenges did you run into initially with setting up the company? Sourcing good game content, and planning for the timeline between signing development deals and releasing product at retail. How difficult has it been to establish a name for the company? It's a challenge for any new company to establish a brand name. From the beginning, we were determined to market the company and the games consistently and professionally to both the industry and the consumer. With each new game release, our name gains mind share with developers, retailers and consumers. Why have you chosen to focus on the adventure genre more so than other genres, and where does your passion for the genre stem from? I was involved with Sierra Online in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, so my passion for adventure games was rooted at the company. Also, the adventure community is tightly knit and a pleasure to be a part of. Got Game Entertainment has released additional genre products, including RPG, strategy, and casual games. Regardless of genre, the company is always looking for the best quality entertainment to bring to market. What effect do you think this focus has had on your business? The initial adventure genre focus gave the company a base from which to work. It allowed us to be part of a community, to more readily source a number of great adventure games, and bring those games to a community we very much value. It’s also allowed us to make the strategic decision to venture into additional genres, and platforms. How difficult has it been to keep the company financially viable as an independent publisher? As an independent publisher, it was definitely a challenge in the beginning. However, as the company has expanded its product line, financial viability has become less and less of a challenge. Now, the main challenge is sourcing the right products from developers. Which games have been your biggest successes to date? We have had a number of successes, not only from a sales standpoint but also in terms of industry recognition – for example, PC Gamer awarded Bad Mojo: Redux its Adventure Game of the Year in 2004 and tapped Laser Squad Nemesis as an Editors’ Choice. We’re determined to continue our company’s commitment to deliver top titles in 2007 and beyond. How much of an idea do you have of who your audience are, and how do you go about obtaining user statistics? We have an excellent understanding of the adventure community, and what makes it tick. From the beginning, we have given careful thought to our audience and to make sure we hit the right marketing channels, inside and outside the traditional gaming outlets. We conduct marketing surveys and always invite consumer feedback. Got Game Entertainment has had tremendous success in getting product in major retail outlets. Our relationships with retail buyers provides us with a great source of information of what today’s customer is looking for. Have you changed anything about the way you run Got Game Entertainment because of user information, and if so, what? What has become clear is that there is a larger share of overall revenue that is splintering under the different gaming platforms. This is where user information helps determine where we want to budget product development funds, and what competitive titles have achieved in terms of sales. Are you interested in reaching a mainstream audience? Do you feel Got Game Entertainment publishes titles capable of this? We have reached mainstream with a few of our casual games, Atlantis Quest, and the new title Brickshooter Egypt which is shipping at the end of January. Got Game Entertainment's main focus is obtaining great game content. If those games reach mainstream, it will be driven from consumer acceptance. Quality will lead to mainstream. Anyone who flipped through Target’s big Christmas catalog this year would have seen two Got Game Entertainment products (Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle and Atlantis Quest) on the same page as World of WarCraft and Scarface. Target decides what games go in the catalog, so that two of our games were selected was a big boost of confidence that we’re making games that a mainstream audience is interested in. How do you go about selecting the games to be published by Got Game Entertainment? Over the last five years, we have begun to make a name for ourselves with developers and several of our games come from developers who approached us. We also actively seek out product via trade shows and watching the industry trades. Our team reviews game proposals in terms of, of course, whether it’s a great game but also, more specifically, in terms of whether it’s a great game for Got Game Entertainment. Developers who are interested in contacting the company about their games should initially email us. Do you see yourself re-releasing more games in the way that you did with Bad Mojo? Are there any particular games you would like to see re-released? Bad Mojo is a cult game that had a great audience to appeal to with our Redux release. After we did Bad Mojo: Redux we were flooded with suggestions for other games for re-release. Whether we do another will depend entirely on the game and its market viability. With the new Vista operating system, we are looking at a number of games to offer. What other titles does Got Game Entertainment have coming up that you're excited by? Got Game Entertainment has a mixed genre of games for the first half of 2007. The official announcement will be coming soon with all the details, but I can announce we are releasing Scratches: Director's Cut for PC in March, Penumbra: Overture in April, and we just signed a publishing deal for Sony's PSP platform for a mainstream game which will be announced shortly. Where do you see the adventure genre going over the next five years? With the release of Penumbra: Overture, some of the new game features and technology should open up the category to new adventure game players. It should help set a new standard for adventure games over the next few years. What plans do you have for the future of Got Game Entertainment? The company is very excited about the opportunities ahead in terms of growing our PC business and expanding our product line into different gaming platforms. Anyone who wants more information on our company can visit the website.

About the Author(s)

Alistair Wallis


Alistair Wallis is an Australian based freelance journalist, and games industry enthusiast. He is a regular contributor to Gamasutra.

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