After their recent #HelloSwitch announcement, where six games were teased as being released over the course of the year on the Switch, we knew we had to speak with tinyBuild! Plus, The Final Station is arriving on the U.S. eShop tomorrow!!! Therefore, let’s welcome Alex Nichiporchik, CEO and co-founder of tinyBuild to today’s Industry Interviews!
Before we get into it, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Alex Nichiporchik. I grew up in a little country called Latvia and always wanted to make video games. I dropped out of high school to write about games, and flash forward 15 years later, I’m in charge of tinyBuild where we develop & publish games.
What was your first console/game you owned?
My first console was the Sega Genesis with Mortal Kombat 3. That was an amazing summer!
Growing up, did you always know you wanted to work in the video game industry?
Yes! When I was four I was drawing and animating Mortal Kombat characters, sending them to Midway; they never replied.
Let’s talk about tinyBuild. For those unfamiliar, can you provide some background as to how this indie studio was formed?
In 2011, I went onto Newgrounds and found a little flash game called NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. I contacted the dev saying “Yo, we should make indie games together”. A few months later we had our Kickstarter and then worked on the game for over two years before getting burned out. It eventually came out on Steam to make a ton of money, which we decided to reinvest into other indie teams. This is how we became a publisher and started slowly growing, making our way to games the scope of Hello Neighbor.
Nearly early on in the company’s history, tinyBuild decided to support indie developers by partnering and providing assistance in the areas of funding, knowledge, artwork, guidance, etc. Your website (http://www.tinybuild.com/how-to-pitch-your-game) provides a detailed explanation of how an indie developer should approach your company. If you can provide a ballpark estimate, how many ideas had been pitched since you began this business model?
We get thousands of pitches per year with budgets ranging from nothing to millions. Typically we look at the game and see if it’s something we are excited about. If so, we see if we can add value to it and if we “match” with the team. Indie publishing is like dating – there will be ups and downs and it’s a relationship you need to work on. Both parties need to be happy in it.
What’s been the craziest pitch presented to you?
A game about murdering people at parties. We had about 20 beers each at a conference and decided to sign it. It became Party Hard.
Are there any future titles that will be released in the near future that you can tease today?
There’s this one game I’m very excited about that’s based on a famous comic book. It has dark and twisted humor and the guys who created the comic book are insanely smart.
Let’s “switch” gears a bit. We at The Switch Effect are obviously huge fans of Nintendo’s newest console, the Nintendo Switch. What are your thoughts on the system?
Playing Zelda BOTW for the first time felt like being a child again. It was wonderful. That very moment I realized the system was going to be huge. I was a fan of the PSP and carried it around everywhere with me. This has a similar feeling and Nintendo was very smart with a strong consistent line-up of first party games. Also supporting off-shelf engines from day one is a great move, allowing companies like ours to be on the Switch.
Just recently, you announced six games that would be making the jump to the Switch. These included:
- The Final Station (Do My Best Games)
- Clustertruck (Landfall Games)
- Punch Club (Lazy Bear Games)
- Party Hard (Pinokl Games)
- Streets of Rogue (Matt Dabrowski)
- Hello Neighbor
What is it about the Switch that enticed you to port these titles?
These games (outside of Streets of Rogue) already launched on multiple platforms, meaning that they’re good case studies for a port pipeline we’re doing. Essentially when we work with 3rd party devs, there comes a time when our porting team jumps on board and ensures the games can come up on more than just PC. Adding Switch to the pipeline — being different hardware and a portable device — meant we first had to release a bunch of games to streamline the process. From there you can expect more games to sim-launch on PC and Switch.
Hello Neighbor is scheduled to be released in retail stores. Is it possible that your other titles may also be made available physically?
Retail doesn’t make that much sense for games under $30 due to cost of goods sold. It takes money to print discs/cartridges, to get them to stores, etc. Everyone in the chain needs a cut, so more expensive games make much more sense for retail.
Finally, what games (besides your own, haha) are you most looking forward to playing?
I’m really excited to see 3rd party AAA games on the Switch like Assassin’s Creed or GTA. Personally, I’d love to see a version of Bully on the platform. That’s one of my favorite games of all time.
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