Game News Game Pass is a gift for developers, according to FoamPunch (Shredders)
While Microsoft revealed earlier this year that its Game Pass has 25 million subscribers, many gamers are wondering if small studios really win when they release their works on the American giant’s service. It must be recognized that the subscription model giving access to a catalog of products has shown its limits in the fair remuneration of artists, when we turn to other industries. Is the Game Pass against the small hands that provide its content? This is not the opinion of Dirk Van Welden, co-founder of the studio FoamPunch (Shredders). He comes back with us on the problems encountered by independent studios, the solutions that exist, and the Game Pass.
Dirk Van Welden’s interview took place on May 23, 2022. It took place by videoconference on Teams.
Free like air
The subject of the creative freedom of independent developers has often been discussed in the world of video games. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer has often Explain that it was tiring for a small studio to run after funding so as not to disappear. “We have already been able to work without an editor, but it is always a big risk for us” explains Dirk Van Welden, co-founder of FoamPunch to whom we owe the snowboard game Shredders. “Most indie developers just want their game to be successful. This is the most important part, you don’t want to lose money, so you have to strike a balance”.
The extreme sports enthusiast understands what motivates small studios to join large groups, like Ninja Theory which married Microsoft or more recently Bungie which teamed up with Sony. “They can be more daring because they have more budget. They also have access to more resources and more knowledge” he acknowledges. He adds : “most of the time the top coders and the core team stay, the team just has more money. You can see that usually the first titles from acquired studios show that they are really aiming higher”. Did these independents sell their souls to the devil to benefit from more peace and money? That’s not what the CEO of FoamPunch thinks. “I know people whose studios were bought out, and everyone kept their independence. The most important thing is to try to stay as independent as possible while getting the budget and support”. Other solutions exist for independents wishing to self-publish their creations, and one of them is called the Game Pass.
“The Game Pass is a gift, a great gift”
Several studios such as No More Robots, Avalanche Studios, Dotemu or Night School Studio have already touted the benefits of Game Pass for developers. FoamPunch steps in and gives more details on how Microsoft’s service helped bring Shredders to life. “You also know that there are a lot of people who are going to try your game, so you have to make it better”says Dirk Van Welden. He keeps on : “with a new IP, and for these kinds of games, something like Game Pass is a gift, a great gift, because without it we probably would have taken less risk in terms of production”. The rapprochement with Microsoft was natural according to the co-founder of FoamPunch, the Redmond firm that developed Amped: “At Xbox, our contacts didn’t really have any snowboarding games, so they were keen. There’s also been marketing support, which is something indies really need when making a game.” he indicates.
I chose Game Pass because Shredders is a new IP, because there are a lot of subscribed players, and because there is also a legacy with Amped. This gave us some stability in terms of sales. It also allowed us to go further than we could have done without Game Pass. We took bigger risks, we recruited more people, we spent more time on it, we added a story, because we knew Shredders was going to be in Microsoft’s service. This is a good thing, especially for new licenses, because it is always more difficult to sell a new license. Dirk Van Welden, co-founder and CEO of FoamPunch
Shredders is available on Xbox Series X|S consoles and PC. It is included in the Game Pass. FoamPunch is currently working on additional content which should be released later this year. “I think it will give a new impetus like, okay, new season, snow is falling, what do we do in Shredders? Hopefully you’ll get some really great stuff” concludes Dirk Van Welden.