Private Division announced four new publishing partnerships today, adding to a team of developers that includes the studios behind the Kerbal Space Program and OlliOlli World.
These include Yellow Brick Games, the Quebec-based studio founded in part by Mike Laidlaw, who is best known for his work on the Dragon Age series. Private Division has also signed deals with Piccolo Studio, the Barcelona-based company behind Arise; Evening Star, which is working on a “completely original 3D action platformer”, and Die Gute Fabrik, the company that most recently produced Mutazione.
The new deals mark Private Division’s steady growth from an indie publisher into what it hopes will be a prestigious label. According to Vice President of Marketing Tom Bass, Private Division is motivated to work with “some of the greatest creative talent in the industry.”
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Evening Star is emblematic of the studios Private Division is looking to work with in 2022. The studio is a favorite among retro fans, founded by several key members of the Sonic Mania development team, including Australian programmer Christian Whitehead. The studio is using a more powerful version of Whitehead’s pixel art game engine, which Sonic Mania helped make famous.
Meanwhile, Bass said that Private Division was attracted to Yellow Brick Games because “we really wanted another RPG,” calling it a flaw that needed to be addressed. Yellow Brick Games is currently developing an action RPG set in a fantasy setting with a focus on “emerging systems” that will help it create a “rich, interactive world”.
As for Piccolo Studio, it caught the attention of Private Division because of the strong word of mouth for Arise: A Simple Story, “an emotional journey of losing the love of her life.”
“Part of the reason we were drawn to Piccolo Studio is that we started hearing about Arise when it started being nominated for Game of the Year,” Bass said.
“[T]his transition isn’t as difficult as it used to be.”
A subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive originally founded in 2017, Private Division provides support to smaller studios depending on where they feel they can “add value”, whether that’s continuing marketing, production or distribution.
In the five years since its founding, Private Division has seen an acquisition craze that has surpassed the gaming industry. One of the first games it developed was Obsidian’s Outer Worlds, announced less than a month after Microsoft acquired the popular indie RPG studio. It has also acquired its own studios, adding OlliOlli World developer Roll7 to the stable in 2021.
Murray calls the recent trend that has seen Xbox acquire Activision Blizzard and Sony steal Bungie “cyclical”.
“I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and I wanted to step back and look at the cyclical nature of things and how this happened,” says Murray. “There’s a lot of consolidation right now and I think in a couple of years we’re going to see the pendulum swing in the other direction and maybe we’ll see a bunch of new indie studios flourish, and then they’re going to build great IP and then those things will be acquired and they’ll create new indie studios and so on. So it looks like right now, we’re definitely in the mix. and the prices of everything are going up appallingly and that’s amazing.”
Amid all this, Murray says that Private Division will strive to continue to be “a viable source of funding and a publishing partner” for studios looking to bring their games to market. So far, Private Division’s portfolio has performed “really really well,” Murray said, showing the publisher it’s “on the right track.”
In the time since Private Division opened, Xbox and Sony have also launched new consoles, both of which are now in their second year. Private Division released OlliOlli World on Xbox Series X/S and PS5 last month, but like most publishers have actively continued to support older consoles.
“There used to be this hard console transition every five years, and that would be very difficult for developers and very painful for publishers. It’s happening less and less,” Bass said. .”
Bass says that Private Division is still seeing “a lot of demand” for Xbox One and PS4 games, and the publisher plans to support them launching next year. “We are still publishing on [PS4 and Xbox One] because it makes sense, because the transition isn’t as difficult as it used to be. “
Bass also recognizes programs like Xbox Smart Delivery and backward compatibility technology for smoother transitions. Murray, meanwhile, admitted that “even trying to find a PS5 is a challenge” due to supply chain disruptions and other problems.
Private Division’s next release, Kerbal Space Program 2, which is currently slated to arrive on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 and PS5, has been delayed multiple times since its announcement on 2019. In 2020, the original developer Star Theory closed. its door when a large portion of the Kerbal Space Program 2 development team moved on to the Private Division’s Interceptor Games Squad. The move was controversial, as it was reported that Take-Two was looking to acquire Star Theory before it closed.
“Private Division has opened our own studio, Intercept Games, to bring the development of Kerbal Space Program 2 to within our owned and beloved KSP franchise,” Private Division said. in a statement at the time. “In doing so, we are empowering our deeply talented and passionate team to focus on quality and we are delighted with the progress they are making on the game.” Kerbal Space Program 2 is currently set for release later this year.
Meanwhile, all four new Private Division partners are working on new games, all of which are “in the early stages of development”. The first of those is expected to launch in Take-Two’s Fiscal Year 2024.
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Kat Bailey is Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Got a tip? Send her a direct message at @the_katbot.
https://www.ign.com/articles/private-division-yellow-brick-games-evening-star-acquisition Private division: PS5 and Xbox Series X/S ‘less painful’ transition as publisher rolls out four new deals