By Derrik J. Lang
AP Entertainment Writer
BURBANK, Calif. — GameStop is dipping a toe into the video game publishing business.
The retailer is partnering with Insomniac Games to release and sell merchandise based on the studio’s upcoming underwater-set adventure “Song of the Deep.”
“I think this will work because we’ve both been in the games industry for a long time,” said Insomniac Games President and CEO Ted Price. “There’s a lot of trust involved. They trust us to shepherd our creative vision and make the best possible game. That’s not always the case with traditional publisher-developer relationships.”
Price noted that Insomniac Games is retaining complete creative control over “Song of the Deep,” which will be available later this year.
The venture marks GameStop’s first dive into console game publishing. The Grapevine, Texas-based company operates more than 6,900 stores in 14 countries and owns the browser-based game site Kongregate.com. The disc-based version of “Song of the Deep” will only be available from GameStop.
“The team has demonstrated in the past that they can make amazing games, so that allows us to focus on all the other pieces that need to be put in place,” said GameStop executive Mark Stanley. “We’re committed to extending the brand into other areas.”
“Song of the Deep,” which will also be available for download, is a passion project for Insomniac Games, the Burbank, California-based studio known for the long-running “Ratchet & Clank” and “Resistance” series. The 2D platformer casts players as a young Gaelic girl named Merryn who builds a submarine to go searching for her lost-at-sea fisherman father.
Stanley said the “Song of the Deep” merchandise will include a children’s book from Sterling Publishing and a Merryn vinyl doll from Funko. He acknowledged that the all-in approach is a gamble considering “Song of the Deep” is a totally new intellectual property without a built-in fan base.
“It’s a big risk because a game like this at this level has never had this type of support at launch,” said Stanley. “We don’t have unreasonable expectations that every gamer out there will want the game, the doll, the book, the T-shirt — everything. However, we feel it’s worth the investment to see how well it will do and be received.”
For game makers, creating revenue from additional sources like downloadable content and merchandise has become increasingly vital. Price noted that despite the game’s smaller size, the developers always intended to make waves with “Song of the Deep.”
“From the very beginning, we really knew what this world was going to be,” said Price. “That really helped inform the other opportunities that GameStop presented to us.”
In addition to “Song of the Deep,” Insomniac Games is releasing a new “Ratchet & Clank” title alongside an animated film adaptation of the 13-year-old game series on April 12.