My visits into a GameStop usually go the same. I’m either picking up the latest game or trading in a handful of old ones. And every time, employees want me to preorder the store’s entire future stock. I know it’s their job, but damn – I said I’m good.
The days of GameStop being just a video game store are coming to an end. We saw the first glimpse earlier this year when GameStop announced they would be publishing Insomnia Games next game. I’ll admit, that wasn’t news I was ever expecting to hear. I even wrote at the time that I didn’t think it would become part of a larger trend. Yep, I was wrong.
Today, GameStop announced a publishing label called GameTrust. And with the announcement, revealed several more partnerships with independent developers. Ready at Dawn (The Order: 1886), Tequila Works (Deadlight, Rime) and Frozenbyte (Trine) are signed up.
Insomniac Games’ Song of the Deep
The deal’s potential upside is obvious for both GameStop and developers. First, the developers get to make their games and gain physical shelf space at GameStop stores. The gaming industry continues its march towards more digital, but GameStop is still a major player in the retail chain.
Developers signed up with GameTrust get other perks including marketing. But the size of the investment and marketing will vary from game to game. GameStop’s GameTrust isn’t limiting itself in scope either. While the first games are independent, GameStop says their publishing program will span the entire industry. From the casual indie titles adored by many to the biggest triple AAA titles we are used to seeing every year.
For GameStop, it gives them a new vertical to explore. You can see how game sales have shifted to digital in GameStop’s earnings and forecasts.
I figured the Insomniac Games deal was a one-off for the company. To test the waters. But it appears GameStop likes the idea of becoming a publisher and is pushing ahead. It could pay off and I hope it does for them. With the right games, GameStop could one day become a solid publisher. Their initial slate of developers is strong. Let’s see if they can deliver with quality games people want to play.
One thing fans will like about GameStop’s publishing arm is they promise to be hands-off. Creative freedom stays with the developers. GameStop’s role is to give them support via initial investment and their retail experience.
As for how you’ll buy GameTrust games? They will not be exclusive to GameStop stores. Every game published by GameTrust can be bought on digital storefronts including Steam, Xbox Live, PSN and others.
Mark Stanley, VP of internal development and diversification at GameStop, gives us a better idea what to expect from GameTrust in an interview with GamesBeat. “Our focus is on $15 to $40 space,” Stanley told GamesBeat.
That tells me they are focused on indie games right now. And it makes sense. Investing in an indie game offers much less risk than trying to make a big splash with an AAA-title.
It’ll be interesting to watch; that’s for sure. Physical game sales aren’t what they once were. That’s not to say retail stores will disappear, but it’s clear GameStop is looking for ways to grow their company outside of physical retail.
We’ll see how GameTrust’s first foray into publishing goes when Insomniac Games’ Song of the Deep releases on July 12, 2016. Check out the new trailer below.