Ripstone talks PS4, indies and the future of the gaming industry

PlayStation Universe recently hooked up with Ripstone Games, one of the fastest growing indie publishers in the U.K., to find out about how it’s managed to achieve success during a turbulent period in the industry and what its thoughts are on a variety of hot gaming topics, including the upcoming launch of PlayStation 4.

The following interview was conducted with Ripstone founder Phil Gaskell.

1. Ripstone was recently named as one of the country’s fastest growing firms. What is the company doing right during a turbulent time for the industry which has seen large scale lay-offs and many publishers and development studios close their doors?

At Ripstone we’re very focused and that helps during testing times like this. We’re purely focused on digital downloadable games, and purely a publishing outfit so we have no internal development teams. That means we’re a lean organisation that is able to move quickly to react to trends in a rapidly shifting industry. In a sequel-driven market, it also means we’re more able to take risks on the brave new ideas for games that indie developers are dreaming up.

2. The power of the big publishers appears to have slipped over the past five years and we’ve seen the rise of digital downloads thanks to open platforms such as Android, iOS and the PlayStation Store. Do you think this is a trend that will continue? Is physical retail doomed?

Physical retail isn’t doomed, if you look at this year’s figures it’s actually seen an increase over the past few years thanks to big launches like GTA V. Going back 50 years it was mooted that the TV would kill radio, and recently that TV is doomed thanks to the internet and streaming sites. This all needs to be put into perspective, there have been no bodies, and no chalk outlines. What these changes are doing is making things more accessible. What the openness of mobile platforms has done is both encouraged a more open approach from other platforms, and brought games to a much wider audience. It isn’t killing off audiences, and it isn’t killing off distribution channels. Physical retail still offers a number of very attractive benefits to gamers - they’re still able to offer immediacy (no waiting for that 60Gb download, it’s in your hand); they can often offer more aggressive price promotions, for example we’ve yet to see big franchise digital games on PSN cheaper than their retail equivalents; and of course there is still the (thorny) issue of resale value of games in the pre-owned market, will any of us ever be able to trade in all the coins we’ve bought in Candy Crush Saga towards a different game on mobile? I think not.

3. What are the core ingredients that you think an indie game should have in order for it to be taken on by Ripstone?

If you look at our catalogue it’s quite eclectic, and I really like that. We look for things that are original, that are backed by a team that are clearly passionate about what they want to make, and are in some way personal to the creator(s). With regards to my own tastes, I get attracted to games with a striking visual style, that are taking a risk in some way, and that make me laugh. There’s not enough funny games out there. That’s why we jumped at the chance to work with Zoink! on Stick It To The Man. It ticks all the boxes in spades!

4. Which games has Ripstone been involved with?

If you click on to our website the games we’ve helped to publish are front and centre. Our first title was with Voofoo Studios and together we created the world’s most beautiful chess game in Pure Chess which incidentally is making its way over most platforms this year and next! We’ve worked with one-man teams like Nicklas ‘Nifflas’ Nygren on Knytt Underground, and micro-studios like Sawfly on the quirky mobile line-drawing game Men’s Room Mayhem. We’re also working with bigger teams like Steel Wool Games on Flyhunter: Origins, they’re a very talented team of academy award winning artists and animators who’ve worked on some of the world’s most ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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