GameStop Launches GameTrust
APRIL 19, 2016 • Only last January Insomniac Games, Inc. came to an agreement with retailer GameStop Corp. to publish the studio’s Song of the Deep 2D adventure side-scroller exclusively at retail. Although the title for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC is not expected to ship until July, GameStop has announced it is moving forward with a new publishing arm called GameTrust. Developers who have signed on to the initiative include Finnish studio Frozenbyte (Trine), Ready at Dawn in Irvine, Calif. (God of War: Chains of Olympus), and Madrid-based Tequila Works (Deadlight). As with Song of the Deep, full creative control will remain with all developers working with GameTrust. Despite only handling physical distribution on Song of the Deep, GameStop is leaving digital distribution as an option.
Impact: Earlier this year we saw GameSpot taking on Song of the Deep as a one-off experiment built around a small title. That the retailer is launching GameTrust so soon, and before it can gauge consumer response at retail to Insomniac’s project, indicates much more ambition in this segment than we anticipated. GameStop has been attempting to diversify its operations for a long time, including digital distribution with Kongregate and Impulse. But publishing is a different proposition that puts the retailer into more serious competition with its content suppliers. GameStop vice president of internal development told the Associated Press that the focus will be on smaller titles representing a largely ignored space.” “Honestly, we’re not going to be looking at big $15 million-plus franchises right now,” he said. “We’re looking at smaller games and launching them at times of the year where we stay away from that massive fourth-quarter craziness.” Another way to create separation is the intention to operate GameTrust separately from the core retail business. With more than 6,000 locations, GameStop cannot be easily cut out of the physical distribution picture, but the real growth opportunity for publishing is digital distribution. Does GameTrust leverage Kongregate, which specializes in free games or does it strike deals with Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live? The answers to that question will be intriguing. The proliferation of boutique game development has exploded in recent years and there is a legitimate need for more publishing options than the big majors provide. Therefore, we see why GameStop is interested in servicing that need. It’s still an experiment until the revenue numbers eventually come in, yet a much bigger experiment than we supposed three months ago.