When it comes to unique, independent games, thatgamecompany is one of the major players slowly etching a path for their shared market, genre and style. They are one of the few developers bringing genuinely unique titles to consoles for gamers to enjoy. Their first, entirely in-house game was Flower, their second will be Journey. Thatgamecompany is a studio whose game’s are published by Sony.
Kellee Santiago, the studio’s co-founder, spoke with Gamasutra at length about what it means to be a part of that type of company and about the gaming industry as a whole. Part of her discussion centered around the current audience for her games, and gamers in general. She was quick to compliment the PlayStation Network users:
“The PlayStation Network audience has been really great to us. I think, because as we were talking about earlier, they’re very, what I think of as ‘literate gamers.’ They play everything. They read about games. They talk about games in a very literate way, and are looking for that new experience.
…it turns out gamers are not stupid, and I don’t think we should treat them like they are.”
Of course, thatgamecompany aims to bring players those new experiences with their own projects. And, to Santiago’s credit, Flower, flOw and the upcoming Journey are all exceptionally unique.
When asked about publishers and their willingness (or unwillingness, in some cases) to release more unique games, Santiago offered that the development process is often seen as too much of a risk for games that exist outside of the norm.
“I think it comes back down to that process, and not having a really established process for going about making games in general. Like, we know how to make the games that have been made so far, but expanding beyond those genres or those styles of play, because there’s not an established process, there’s perceived greater risk in financing those titles, publishing those titles, marketing those titles.
I think there are plenty of publishers who would say, ‘Yeah, we’d love to do a Katamari Damacy,’ but they actually really do mean, ‘We just want to do another Katamari Damacy.’ When it comes to selling them on the process that Keita [Takahashi] has in developing games, then people start backing out.”
Santiago goes on to compliment Sony for their ability to take risks on more unique, individual properties within the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Network.
We ran our interview with Austin Wintory, the music composer for Journery, over this last weekend. Be sure to check it out.