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  • Limited Run Games Interview – Vita, the Physical Indie Market, & the Future

    September 27th, 2017GamespotUncategorized

    On 28th October 2015 an interesting shift happened in the market for physical collectors on Vita. A small spin-off from the development studio Mighty Rabbit Games released its first physical game - Breach & Clear - which managed to sell out of all 1,500 copies that had been printed within a few seconds, sparking the birth of a company that would release an unprecedented 34 further titles within two years.

    I recently had the chance to interview one of the founders - Douglas Bogart - to find out how the business had grown, how the Vita factors into their plans going forward, and what he thinks about the ever-growing market for indie physical releases as a whole.

    It's been nearly two years since your very first physical release - Breach & Clear on Vita. Is it difficult to believe how fast your business has grown since then?

    It's extremely unbelievable, every day we are thankful for still going so strong. We never believed it would be this successful.

    You've recently made a number of changes to your business including the introduction of a hold shipping service. How do you feel this is going so far?

    It seems to be going really well. It works for a lot of our international customers. But there are risks, by doing it you are having to worry about a much bigger package getting lost in the mail if your postal service is bad.

    Other changes include the addition of playing cards and other physical goodies with every release. Do you feel the need to continue to adapt and change to stay viable in the market?

    We do feel the need to adapt and change with the market. We are trying to do our own thing though which is why we introduced trading cards once we saw others adopting our postcard approach. As for special editions, it's something we always wanted to do and now that we can we've become kind of addicted.

    What are your feelings on the ESRB's change that now requires you to put a rating on every game? Has the extra cost involved made things less viable for you?

    We understand why they want us to comply. We aren't fans of the process but we are willing to do it if it means it's the only way to bring physical games to our fans. The extra costs do hurt smaller releases but we are looking into ways to help boost those releases.

    As previously mentioned, your very first release was a Vita title and you continue to ship games on the console to this day. Have you been impressed with the enthusiasm for the console from the fanbase?

    Vita fans are the best and we plan to support it until Sony tells us to stop!

    You've spoken about being fans of SEGA's Dreamcast. Do you feel the similarities between it and the Vita, in both being ignored by the mainstream, have arguably shaped their status as under-appreciated gems?

    We definitely see Dreamcast and Vita being extremely similar. They both have great games that the mainstream gamer seems to miss. They are also both consoles that the industry likes to forget and call a mistake. The Dreamcast definitely gets a better rap now as will the Vita in later years.

    Despite Sony publicly pulling support for Vita a number of years ago, your releases continue to sell out. How much longer do you feel the Vita will be a viable venture for you?

    I feel like with the advent of the Switch the audience has definitely started to shift a little, but I think for what we do we will be okay because people will revisit the Vita one day and be thankful they picked up our games. As far as time, we truly plan to support it until there are either no more games for us to do or Sony says to stop.

    Have your connections at Sony remained encouraging with regards to your intention to continue pushing physical releases on Vita?

    Sony has been really happy with our Vita support and employees of Sony often stop me at conventions to let me know how happy they are. Not everyone at Sony is against the Vita!

    Has the contraction of indie support on Vita in recent years caused difficulties for you in finding new titles to release? How are you hoping to resolve this?

    There are still plenty of games, the problem is a lot of the devs have moved on or gone under so finding someone who doesn't mind going through the Vita process is tough since it is definitely the hardest thing we do to make physical. Our goal is to start bringing games over from Japan.

    You've spoken previously about looking into localizing games for the handheld. Has there been any progress in this regard?

    Yes, I should be signing our first contract finally this week!

    Limited Run Games is a subsidiary of Mighty Rabbit Games, a developer that ported both Breach & Clear and Saturday Morning RPG. Have there been any plans to port other games to the console as a result of the success of LRG?

    We'd like to see Saturday Morning RPG on Switch but we will have to see how much work we have or if Nintendo would even want it!

    Have you been successful in convincing other developers to port their games by promising a set number of copies printed through LRG?

    Yes, we've had a few developers port their games to Vita knowing that they will make back their money through the physical.

    One of the most requested series for physical releases is Atelier. Your company has spoken about this in the past but noted there is a lot of red tape - has there been any progress in this regard?

    No progress on Atelier for now.

    From a personal viewpoint, two of my favourite releases you've handled have been Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. Is there any chance you might partner once more with Oddworld Inhabitants for Munch's Oddysee on Vita?

    Oddworld Inhabitants are great people and we would love to work with them again!

    One of your earliest announcements was Nuclear Throne, pending a patch from Vlambeer that has yet to arrive. Are there any updates in this regard?

    PS4 is looking good and we may end up selling that one first while Vita is still being worked on!

    What physical Vita release have you been most proud of so far? Any upcoming releases you're overjoyed about?

    So far Ray Gigant as it was a huge title for us and it took a year and a half to get! We have a few coming up that will overshadow it though! ;)

    You have spoken previously about trying to get an agreement in place for The Caligula Effect, which sadly never worked out. Are there any games that have slipped through the cracks which you really wish you could have arranged a physical release for?

    Yeah, there are a few and sometimes it doesn't make sense but it is what it is!

    Do you feel the rise of similar companies providing limited physical releases is good for the market, or is it at risk of being over-saturated?

    I feel like it's a bit of both. On one hand, we have a way to get more games out now by having other companies release games, but we also have major over-saturation and competition to the point where it's not going to be worth doing this for everyone.

    Limited Run Games has been a learning experience for yourselves as much as the consumer and you've often been subject to some harsh feedback from fans. Are you able to take this on the chin or do things often feel too personal?

    We have always strived to be transparent with our customers. Even if we are too transparent sometimes we will continue to do so since it was our original agreement with our customers. We've learned a lot and know now when to take something personally or not.

    Finally, two questions I have been asking everyone - What are some of your favorite games that you’ve played on Vita?

    Some of my favorites are Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, Daganronpa, and Tokyo Xanudu. I have a bunch more but the list would be too long!

    Which Vita model is your favourite (LCD or OLED)?

    I'm an LCD boy myself just because the battery life is better and the charger is just micro USB. But OLED is definitely hands down the better screen and better playing experience.

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