GameStop stepping in to publish Song of the Deep could be the start of something good for the industry
Last week Burbank, California-based developer Insomniac Games pulled back the curtain on their latest project, Song of the Deep, a charming Metroidvania title that tells the tail of a young girl in a makeshift submarine searching for her lost father title set deep beneath the ocean. While this bit of news was benign enough, if came as a bit of a surprise for a couple of reasons. Namely, it was a game from the creators of the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series that didn’t show any signs of guns that fire flaming hamsters, nuclear disco balls or other over-the-top weaponry. The other, even more surprising part of the project’s reveal was that the game would be published by everyone’s favorite retailer to hate, GameStop.
The apprehension isn’t entirely unexpected. I get it: GameStop is known for their questionable business practices and penchant for religiously up-selling their products, much to the chagrin of their hapless customer base. However, given the rapidly changing landscape of today’s industry as it creeps closer and closer to the inevitable shift to full-on digital distribution, it’s not hard to understand why GameStop would branch out into the publishing side of the industry. After all, they company has been going through a bit of a shakeup over the past year, with a focus on appealing to collectors with a pretty sizable selection of statues and toys, as well as a push towards tapping into the lucrative retro gaming market through classic console and game sales. If GameStop as a company wants to future-proof themselves, putting their fingers in as many pies as possible seems to be a step in the right direction for the retailer.
While most people find it hard to separate GameStop from the AAA blockbusters they push tirelessly to secure those precious pre-orders, it makes a lot of sense for GameStop to back a project such as Song of the Deep. After all, the game sports the brand recognition of Insomniac, a studio who, despite a few lackluster Resistance sequels, are no doubt a talented studio with a great deal of creativity. Additionally, Song of the Deep, while lovely with its lush 2D visuals, hardly looks like the type of AAA blockbuster that could put GameStop in dire straights if it were to fail. Having said that, it seems like a great dry run for GameStop to test such a venture with minimal risk. If Song of the Deep does well, GameStop would likely be more inclined to pick up the rights to other, less mainstream titles, offering a fresh injection of diversity to an industry being suffocated with the same annual batch sequels year after year.
At least, that seems to be the case. At the very least, a recent conversation between Insomniac Games’ founder Ted Price and GameStop’s Global Lead Mark Stanley made it seem the retailer shares hopes such a venture would bring new experiences to gamers.
“We’ve all noticed a resurgence of indie titles over the years, and what’s awesome about that is that the smaller titles tend to take more creative risks and deliver something that’s very different than, say, the AAA, more realistic titles. For us as a company that thrives on creativity and loves building new worlds, that’s a place we love to be as well,” Price said. “When Mark and I were talking about how the market’s evolving and looking ahead and bringing more to players, we started connecting on that particular topic, and we were serendipitously working on a pitch for Song of the Deep, and sparks ignited.”
GameStop stepping in to deliver a refreshing and unique experience such as Song of the Deep isn’t a concept that’s entirely alien to the retailer. When Nintendo was hesitant to bring Xenoblade Chronicles, arguably one of the Wii’s most highly praised titles to the states, GameStop negotiated an exclusive contract to distribute the game in North America. The gamble proved worthwhile for gamers, as they finally got to experience one of the finest adventures of the past few decades.
Simply put, so long as GameStop respects both the developers they partner with in their publishing endeavors by ensuring they have the time and resources needed to do what they do best, and respects their consumers by not springing any poorly designed DLC or integrating any money-grabbing schemes into the equation, I’m more than happy to see the retailer stepping up to become a platform to bring more unique and exciting experiences to our favorite consoles.
So, our dear readers, what are your thoughts on GameStop taking up the reigns as a publishing entity? Do you trust they will give the studios they support the money and time needed to create the best games possible? Be sure to sound off in the comments section and let us know.