GameStop is already publishing Insomniac Games’ Song of the Deep this year, however has recently publicly launched its own independent publishing company, GameTrust. The company plans to release between 5 and 10 games in the next 12 months, and have signed Ready at Dawn Studios (The Order: 1886), Frozen Byte (Trine), and Tequila Works (Deadlight).
Mark Stanley, VP of Internal Development and Diversification at GameStop has summed up why it’s important for the company to focus its efforts on a certain bracket of indie games:
“These are what we’re calling in the industry ‘AAA’ indie games. They’re mostly dream projects that studios never had the support to do because they’re smaller games. We’re able to take bigger risks either on through art style or creative or gameplay. And we’re able to combine it with GameStop’s access and assets to find a bigger audience”
GameStop’s investments are pointing indie gaming, and the gaming industry itself, in the right direction, signposting for more creative and unique content and driving innovation in both interactive storytelling and gameplay. By focusing on the games that already have the power of these devs behind them, the GameTrust budget will allow these experience to hit the mainstream.
While the move is a romantically ideal move for the indie industry it also presents major business benefits for GameStop and its attempts to reinvent its brand image beyond the storefront. With indie titles bringing millions of dollars home over the last few years, it’s a good slice of profit and breeds opportunities for merchandising and implementation into GameStop’s used game sales.
Some may argue that GameTrust represents an industrialisation of the otherwise sacred purity of the indie studio, the hand of the corporate sneaking into the pocket of the artist. Whether that turns out to be true will be a test of time, but GameTrust seems to be prizing itself on its devotion of artistic innovation and simply giving these developers the financial platform to further this innovation. With the studios themselves retaining their rights to the intellectual properties, the company feels sufficiently transparent.