GameStop entered the world of game publishing in 2016 with its new division GameTrust, and the company’s first title, Song of the Deep, was a success, according to one of GameTrust’s executives.
“The game broke all levels that we had put in front of it for both retail and digital,” Mark Stanley, vice president of internal development and diversification at GameStop, said while speaking to IGN at DICE 2017. “So, thankfully, Song of the Deep is still doing well. We’re hoping to work again with Insomniac soon with another project.”
Song of the Deep was developed by Insomniac Games that released in 2016 both digitally and in physical form exclusively at GameStop. In addition to publishing the game itself, GameTrust took a wider approach, publishing a tie-in book and other collectibles alongside Song of the Deep. Stanley acknowledged that people stepping into a GameStop may not initially know what these collectibles relate to, but their existence alongside the game allows those who do buy it to deepen their connection to this new franchise.
The game broke all levels that we had put in front of it for both retail and digital.”
“We knew it was the right thing to do because it brings in a different experience,” Stanley said. “We know that our gamers and gamers in general want a deeper connection with IPs. Collectibles are a way to do that.”
And though GameTrust found success in this publishing according to Stanley, the publisher won’t be applying the exact same model to each of its upcoming games, which include Ready at Dawn’s De-formers and Frozenbyte’s Has-Been Heroes.
“Our only approach is that there is no cooke-cutter structure,” Stanley said. “The only common denominator has been that the journey of the developer is just as important as the game. So whenever you see us promoting the game out there as GameTrust, you don’t see GameTrust. You see the developer and the game. We are an invisible platform, that’s what we want to be.”
GameTrust also isn’t looking to be known as a publisher of any one type of game — Song of the Deep is a 2D sidescroller, Has-Been Heroes is a rogue-like action game, and De-formers is a third-person arena brawler. Instead, GameTrust is focused on forming relationships with developers, helping to publish passion projects, and maintaining those partnerships for subsequent games.
“We’re not really concentrating on a specific genre,” Stanley said. “It all starts with the connection with the developer, and where do you want to go and can we have a positive role in getting you there.”
We don’t want to become a game factory.”
In addition to those two upcoming games, GameTrust has “a few things that we have locked in” beyond its initial slate of games, though the company has nothing new to announce at this time. Details about its “fantastic project” from Rime developer Tequila Works, which Stanley said is “not very typical of the studio” in the same way Song of the Deep wasn’t typical for Insomniac, are also forthcoming.
But even with these three announced games and more to come, GameTrust is looking to keep its yearly slate manageable rather than expanding rapidly.
“We want to focus on five six games a year,” Stanley said. “We don’t want to become a game factory … that would be completely opposite to what we’re trying to solve for.”
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.