(Shoutout to Ken Schaefer for becoming a patron! Thanks, Dad.)
It’s been a topic of discussion recently that the games retail giant GameStop has teamed up with Insomniac games (the developer behind the popular Spyro The Dragon and Ratchet & Clank games) to develop Song of The Deep.
The trailer actually looks quite interesting. It’s a 2-D sidescroller following a young woman named Merryn, who is the daughter of a fisherman. She had been entranced by his stories about the sea and the things he’s seen in his travels. When he goes missing, she gets in a makeshift submarine to find him and embarks on some adventures of her own.
The art style of the game has a rather Miyazaki-esque quality to it, and it seems to borrow a lot from Irish mythology. Also, I’m always up for having more female game protagonists.
I’m not going to lie, though: GameStop’s involvement in making the game kind of bothers me.
Some of GameStop’s business practices have been somewhat…questionable. While I haven’t really had a bad experience at either of the two local GameStop stores, there are some things about them that give me pause. While I’ve never really experienced a GameStop employee trying to push preorders on me, there are people who have had that experience (please keep in mind as well that this article is from 2012 and I didn’t find anything about this newer; they may have changed their policies since then). There’s also the fact that GameStop does buy used games and systems, but usually at a very small fraction of the price that the customer would have paid for it.
I think the main issue, though, is the idea of a large retailer getting involved with what I would consider to be an artistic project, not just sponsoring but actually participating in the publishing process, seems skeevy to me. This becoming the norm could have an effect on the creativity of games, with the retailer/publisher pushing the developer to make a game they think will sell well, regardless of the game that the developer wants to make. However, this also seems like something that’s already happening in the AAA development space (*cough* EA *cough).
Then again, it’s entirely possible that GameStop will have very little input into what actually goes into the game. The $14.99 price tag is certainly a plus, and the game still looks like it will be quite interesting.
I think the best approach to take at this time is to wait and see.