Interview

The motivation behind Nitrome's new modest-yet-creative publishing initiative

The motivation behind Nitrome's new modest-yet-creative publishing initiative

You could be forgiven for thinking that Ultimate Briefcase, a newly-released pixel art arcade game, was developed in-house at Nitrome.

However, despite fitting nicely with the London indie's existing body of work, Ultimate Briefcase is actually developed by another London-based studio called Quite Fresh.

It's the first externally-developed game to be published by Nitrome, as part of a new initiative at the studio.

As such, we got in touch with Founder and Managing Director Mat Annal to learn more about the motivation, ethos, and long-term goals of the project.

PocketGamer.biz: When did Nitrome decide to move into publishing? What was the inspiration?

Mat Annal: We had a lot of interest from developers to publish their game after we had put a few free titles out.

Off the back of that we thought we might consider it in the future. When we saw Ultimate Briefcase we knew we could not pass on that so it became the catalyst to accelerate the plan to get into publishing.

How long ago/under what circumstances was Ultimate Briefcase signed? Do you already have more titles you've signed up in the pipeline?

We signed Ultimate Briefcase about 4-5 months ago. Back then it was just a slick demo of what it would become based mainly around the first area of the game.

We are not trying to rush the publishing side of things as we want to be sure we get it right. It is very important to us that we maintain a quality of content that is on par with what we put out internally.

We also don’t want to overshadow the fact that we are very much still a developer ourselves. We do not want to get to the point that we are putting out more content from publishing than we do on our own.

But we do have one other title signed and we are in discussions with other developers some of which will probably be taken forward. We will be announcing the second game soon once Ultimate Briefcase has been given some time in the limelight.

Ultimate Briefcase could easily pass for a Nitrome-developed game. Will you be trying to maintain this style with the games you choose to publish?

There is potential for future games to deviate, but for the moment we are looking to keep things within pixel art.
Mat Annal

Ultimate Briefcase was developed by Quite Fresh, which is led by ex-Nitrome artist Stefan Ählin. The look was therefore always likely to be Nitrome-like, which made it an ideal first game.

There is more potential for future games to deviate a little more in style but for the moment we are looking to keep things within pixel art.

Do you accept pitches from indies, or do you prefer to make the initial approach yourself?

We do accept pitches. We will also be (and have already been) making approaches to developers that we like and games that we see.

But we are more looking to team with talented people that we can see a longer term potential to work with for multiple titles.

Finding talented devs like that is more appealing to us than reviewing finished games. If you’re a developer and want to talk to us about publishing, contact us at publishing@nitrome.com.

You've seen the other side of the developer-publisher relationship with Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, which was published through Rovio Stars. What did you learn from that experience?

Working with Rovio was a great experience that really taught us a lot about how to launch a big game.

Working that way, though, means big teams, big development times and big risk.

The Rovio-published Icebreaker

Nowadays, it also means making a certain sort of free-to-play game that limits genre choice and puts a lot of development into optimising and testing rather than creativity.

The path we follow now we believe has modest risks by comparison and is much more open to being creative.

We all got into making games because we love making them and we wanted to make a publishing environment that enabled other people to share the same values.

Ultimate Briefcase is available on the App Store now.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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