Gaming News

22 Feb 2021

An Interview With Playtonic Friends, Gaming's Latest Publisher: "We want great developers and great games to succeed"

Playtonic Friends, the new publishing arm of veteran developers Playtonic, was unveiled this month.

Marking the studio's first foray into publishing, following the launch of two successful Yooka-Laylee titles and a wealth of industry knowledge, Playtonic Friends is aimed at elevating other developers 

We were lucky enough to sit down with Gavin Price, Studio Director, to discuss their aims for the latest venture. We discussed the challenges faced when becoming a publisher, how the team identified their first trio of partners and more.

An Interview With Playtonic Friends, Gaming's Latest Publisher

Let's be Playtonic Friends pic.twitter.com/1v95JVr4RP

— Playtonic Friends (@PTonicFriends)

February 15, 2021

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us! It's not every day a new publisher pops up in what is a high-risk industry. What made you at Playtonic decide it was time to "stretch your wings", so to speak?

"Having spent a fast and frantic 5 years heads down creating two games for physical and retail sim-shipping multiple platforms as we go (because we wanted a tough challenge), we took a breath at the start of 2020 to reflect on the previous 5 years and asked ourselves what’s next. We’ve always had grand ambitions and discussed many, many opportunities. Publishing was one that we spoke very passionately about and is just one of the few things we’ve decided to move ahead with."

Yooka-Laylee was a huge success for you, resurrecting the 3D platformer in many ways. Is that the kind of title you'd be looking to add to your portfolio?

It certainly makes sense for us as a brand, and we are thrilled to serve the platform game hungry community. Ultimately though we are doing this out of passion and any game from any genre can trigger interest from us - everybody loves nice surprises!

You've already signed up a trio of developers – Awe Interactive, Fabraz, and okidokico. What drew you to their projects?

Gameplay being front & centre. Titles we look at have often come from what we as gamers are following online or playing ourselves. Then after meeting the developers, they’re exactly the type of people we want to work with, we couldn’t ask for nicer friends to make!

What are some of the unique challenges you've faced in adding a publishing arm? Were there any obstacles to overcome that you perhaps hadn't realised from the dev side of things?

We looked at building a team that have the same values and passion we have as developers.

Luckily we’ve already hired an incredible Biz Dev manager, Steph Darrah, plus long benefited from a lineage of brilliant community managers, currently fulfilled by Tegan Murdoch. We’ve moved our Exec Producer Andy Wilson into the publishing arm too - he’s an incredible asset, the best producer I’ve ever known. If we want to do right by partners then losing him internally to help them has been a tough but necessary sacrifice.

There are still many other hats to wear and many duties to fulfil to do right by partners. Some of this (like PR or digital marketing & asset production) will be outsourced rather than hired in. Again we consider these companies friends as the people are passionate about helping us helping developers, and we would only fail to hire better people internally if you ask me.

All this combines for expert and passionate coverage throughout.

On the dev side of things, at this point, there’s pretty much nothing we haven’t done in the past that we can’t share our experiences on, and working with great publishers ourselves has enabled us to learn a thing or ten. Through this venture, we're open to the idea of self-publishing, and Playtonic Friends will treat Playtonic's games the same as our partners.

You're continuing to work as a developer, alongside Playtonic Friends. Will learnings on one side of things inform processes on the other? 

Absolutely, our internal mantra is “get better at making better games”.

Now we’ll have a wealth of new insights to consider when making our games and how to build them to help bring them to market in bespoke ways. Our publishing team will have an experienced dev team to help gather thoughts and feedback from in many cases throughout title acquisition to lending a helping hand, eye or brain to partners facing the many problems and curve-balls game dev can surprise you with at any point. 

In a recent interview with Eurogamer, you noted a focus on long-term sustainability. In such a volatile industry, how important is that to yourselves as a team that's "been there, done that" in first-party, independent and crowdfunding spaces?

We want great developers and great games to succeed.

Gaming is growing and new audiences are joining in the fun, in turn creating a lot of new opportunities of different scales for everyone - developers, press, content creators… EVERYONE!

This is a clear win all around… a healthy business can take creative risks, new types of games can emerge and usually success breeds more success. As an operation, we value quality over quantity and will strive to be a great fit for as many developers as we can, and in turn nurture long-term friendships all sides can enjoy for many years to come.