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    ‘Epic has been great for many indies’, says X-COM and Phoenix Point creator



    JULIAN GOLLOP’S PC GAMER COLUMNS

    (Image credit: Snapshot Games)

    “When we released the game initially, after the Kickstarter, we knew that we needed better tutorialisation,” says Gollop. “It actually took us about a year—we did a lot of work on the game after the initial release in 2019. When it came to the Steam release in 2020, we had a much nicer, much better tutorial in place which gave a much better introduction to the story, and was well appreciated, I think, by a lot of new players.”

    There’s an argument that developers have been using Epic launches as unofficial betas, polishing things up before the “main” launch on Steam, but it is the nature of modern game development to release post-launch fixes and updates. Few games, at least among those with teams still actively tinkering away, don’t see some improvements a year after launch.

    As well as the Epic deal, Snapshot Games used Kickstarter and Fig to fund Phoenix Point, which helped the studio go from 20 employees to 60 by 2020. Since then, it’s been snatched up by Embracer, and it’s now a division of Saber Interactive. With so much competition and a constant stream of acquisitions, I wondered if Gollop thought there was still room for studios to go it alone.

    Once you get to a certain size and there’s a lot of money flowing out every month, long-term security becomes quite a difficult strategic question.

    Julian Gollop

    “For a more mid-size indie studio, I’d say it’s probably quite difficult. Once you get to a certain size and there’s a lot of money flowing out every month, long-term security becomes quite a difficult strategic question. And it’s very difficult to do that, especially if you’re self-publishing and relying on every next title to be a hit or at least profitable is very difficult. So it’s not surprising to see companies selling to bigger entities. The advantage with Embracer, though, is it is largely a collection of still independently-run studios. It’s not like a monolithic entity, like the traditional publishing model, where in the bad old days big publishers would buy up studios and try to assimilate them like some kind of Borg-like entity.”

    What Gollop and the team at Snapshot are working on at Embracer will need to remain a mystery for now, but they did recently release the Phoenix Point: Complete Edition (opens in new tab), which includes Steam Workshop support, putting the future of the game in the hands of its players. 



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