Interviews// Hell Yeah! The Wrath of Arkedo - PART 2

Posted 9 Oct 2012 16:27 by
SPOnG: I’d like to touch on your experience with the digital market. Past Arkedo titles have been released on PSN, but also on Xbox LIVE as Indie titles. A lot of indie developers have spoken of difficulties with Microsoft’s Indie Games service. What has your experience been on that platform?

Aurélien Regard: Well, we used Xbox LIVE Indie Games [and PSN by extension] as more of a training exercise, more than anything else. So, we did not expect so much money from the Indie channel. That’s not to say we didn’t do well from it - we did okay.

Camille Guermonprez: We covered the costs of making it. The costs being, the two months’ worth of work from one guy. But we had a real eye-opening experience working on those Arkedo Series games. It made us change our philosophy and agree that the digital space is the only way forward.

When Arkedo first started out, we only made boxed games. And the reason why we did that was because we believed that was how a video game should be presented. It’s more permanent. In our previous company, working on mobile phone games, any bloody guy could just turn off the servers and just like that, we’d be gone.

For us at the time, a video game should be something that you can find in a garage sale in ten years’ time for dirt cheap. You can send it back to the person who sold it to you, and say it’s crap. You can send it as a gift... when we were kids, we only had the money to buy a couple of games a year, and because of that they HAD to be good. And when you bought a box, you also got a cloth map and a bunch of other cool stuff.

But the reality of boxed product is not so great. The Nintendo DS titles we made were sold for $20-25, but we only saw $1-2 of that in royalties. When we experimented with PSN and XNA, we sold a game for $3 and got $2 back from each sale. We got the same amount of money from a game that we sold for three bucks.

That was something of a ‘wow’ moment. So we decided that digital was better to develop for. It results in great value for the gamers, gets us just as much return as a boxed product, and allows us to make some very interesting projects.

SPOnG: With the digital space becoming more and more viable for all kinds of developers and publishers, are you worried that you’ll be squeezed out of the picture as the market becomes more crowded?

Aurélien Regard: That’s where good publishers come in handy. We’d probably not even be here without a publisher, and SEGA is doing a great job of promoting the game. Even though we are in digital now, you still need a publisher - it’s all about visibility.

Camille Guermonprez: But the role of the publisher is changing too. Before, a publisher was relevant because it would pay the cost of the game, as well as the cost of making the bloody DVD, the DVD cases and all that stuff. As you know, when you pay for this stuff, you’re not paying at cost, you’re paying it as a royalty to the console manufacturer.

So when you buy those small cards for Nintendo eShop for £7, and it costs about 20p to actually make... what you’re doing is paying for all the R&D that went into launching the Wii. It’s the same with boxed games too, and it happens with every kind of publisher in that space.

To me, being a publisher ten years ago means something radically different to being a publisher today. Something is happening there.

Arkedo is going to keep making its own games and financing them ourselves... at the same time I’m hoping to launch a new publisher called Nice Guys, specifically for indie developers and only for digital platforms. We’ll be financing prototypes, letting developers keep their IP, putting contracts on our website... staying transparent. There’s a lot of hidden stuff in the games industry, and we want to show it.

But, although times and roles are changing, it doesn’t mean we’re going to be going away from SEGA. It just means that there’s a new level of stuff happening in this era of development and publishing. We could be working with SEGA [in the future], or working alongside SEGA. There are many different routes. For the moment though, nothing is set, but what I do know is that times are changing and I love it.

SPOnG: I was actually going to ask what the future of Arkedo is looking like after Hell Yeah. Was that project a one-game partnership with SEGA? Will you be looking to work with them again in the future?

Aurélien Regard: We do not know [laughs].

Camille Guermonprez: Nobody knows. We’ll see.

Aurélien Regard: Right now we’re just busy making the next game...

Camille Guermonprez: Games.

Aurélien Regard: Games?

Camille Guermonprez: Games.

Aurélien Regard: Oh. Games. And clearly, I am only working on one of them [laughs]!

Camille Guermonprez: Hell Yeah has been a big project for us. It’s the biggest we’ve done. It was just a core team of eight guys, with an expansion to around ten or twelve for a limited time... then we had Pastagames work on the PSN version, on top of our work on the Steam PC version, which was very important. And now we’re working on a special edition with loads of stuff in it. Only 100 of them are going to be made, with special items like a statue.

SPOnG: So does that mean we’ll see Hell Yeah, or any of your future titles, on store shelves? Even in a limited capacity?

Camille Guermonprez: No. The thing is... like I said before, in everything that goes to retail, the guy that actually made the game gets about ten times less than they’re used to. When you sell something on the shelf for $20, you know the person who really did it gets about $2. I don’t like that.

I like to see the people who make the product get the most out of it. That’s why I’m the head of Arkedo, because I feel that the value is in creation. My job is to keep reality outside the door. When people do something extraordinary, they get paid for it. And if it sells well, they get fucking rich. And if it doesn’t, then we’ll try again until I run out of money.

But with a team like the one we have here, I’m not going to run out of money. It’s a great time to be an indie developer right now, and it’s a good time to be a gamer who likes indie games. There’s so many of them out there now, and the quality of them has gone through the roof. It can only get better from here.

SPOnG: Thank you very much for your time.

Camille Guermonprez: Thank you so much.

Aurélien Regard: Thank you!

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is available now on PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
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