When you see news about GameStop, you normally wouldn’t expect developer support to be involved. On the contrary, this is a company that thrives on used games sales, with its adversaries often claiming that its business model alone cuts into the sales of video game creators.
Despite this, the company launched a publishing division today called GameTrust, which is partnering with a number of independent developers including Ready At Dawn (God of War: Origins Collection, The Order: 1886), Tequila Works (Deadlite, Rime), and Frozenbyte (Trine). This comes only a month after GameStop revealed it was working with Ratchet and Clank developer Insomniac Games on Song of the Deep.
The retailer’s new publishing division is in talks with 20 other developers as well, according to MVC.
As VP of Internal Development and Diversification Mark Stanley told MVC, GameStop is planning on releasing between five and ten games a year, each with budgets up to $15 million, under the GameTrust label.
“Publishers today really focus on the larger franchises and triple-A, where budgets are $30m and above,” Stanley said. “We are working in this sweet spot that is largely ignored, but we are treating these IPs as if they are triple-As.”
GameStop’s new-found publishing efforts aren’t just limited to games, however, as the company has already made plans to expand its properties into full-fledged multimedia franchises. A book based on Song of the Deep, for instance, is being published in conjunction with Barnes and Noble, while the company is also “looking at potential TV and movie deals.”
Of course, GameStop wouldn’t be GameStop without somehow incorporating this endeavor into its brick and mortar locations. The company says it will be marketing its titles as triple-A, with “reservations” and “pre-order signage” available to its retail customers.
Additionally, Stanley adds that GameStop plans on taking advantage of its PowerUp rewards program to promote its own games, with its recent acquisition of ThinkGeek serving as a means to sell merchandise based on the titles. Here’s the relevant portion of the company’s related press release:
“Towards the middle of last year, we purchased ThinkGeek, which is a leading business for licensed merchandise and collectibles. So we are able to leverage that partnership and be able to develop very limited edition exclusive merchandise along with these IPs. For example, with Song of the Deep we are launching about eight-to-ten collectible SKUs. So, treating this as an entire 360-degree approach allows us to partner with each of these developers, and depending what the game and developer needs, we will create a very customizable deal with that game.”
Stanley compares its new publishing business to Netflix, which made the switch from issuing DVDs by mail to streaming original series featuring “pretty hardcore directors and impressive screenplays.”
With GameTrust, GameStop is planning on launching across all platforms, VR included. While executives like Stanley don’t expect “for this to be the next billion-dollar business for GameStop,” it could serve as some financial security for the company in a waning physical games market.
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