Shiro Unlimited will publish indie titles, beginning with a Mars rover sim.
This week, French indie developer Shiro Games announced the formation of a new publishing vertical called Shiro Unlimited. It will focus on the indie sector, with its first game--Opportunity--coming from developer Dimanche Corp. The news follows the success of Shiro’s self-published Viking strategy game Northgard, which has sold 2.4 million copies according to an announcement from the studio.
For Adrien Briatta, who will head up Shiro’s publishing initiative, the move is a natural fit for the studio given its history of self-publishing.
“Since Shiro Games’ creation ten years ago, we have received many questions about our self-publishing activities, mainly from other studios wondering what it would take to plunge into the adventure,” Briatta told GameDaily. “Following the release of Darksburg and the latest Northgard expansion in 2020, other studios reached out to ask if we could actively help them distribute their projects, and that’s when the idea for Shiro Unlimited really began to grow internally.”
Part of the governing philosophy behind Shiro Unlimited is the belief that there exists a gap between publishers and developers in the indie segment. Part of Briatta’s vision involves the closing of this gap, and he hopes to offer indie devs a different publishing experience.
“We know from experience what types of problems an indie dev can face, and we believe that we are capable of helping our partners overcome them and succeed,” he explained.
Shiro Unlimited will provide its developers with traditional push-to-market, quality assurance, and localization services, and Briatta is banking on the studio’s self-publishing experience to give developers peace of mind.
“[We intend] to help studios realize the best possible version of their game,” Briatta said. “Our artists, developers, and game designers will follow each project, giving feedback when needed and advice when asked for.”
Shiro Unlimited is rolling out with Opportunity, a narrative game that chronicles the journey of the titular Mars rover. It’s being developed by Dimanche Corp., which is best known for nonogram puzzler Puppy Cross. Briatta said that Dimanche approached Shiro with the concept, and he was sold almost immediately.
“With the real-world landing of Perseverance being such a huge milestone, we thought the story had lots of potential,” he recalled. “The way that Dimance Corp. intended to tell that story was immediately and extremely compelling.”
Briatta said that he’s already played the opening chapter of Opportunity, and he’s confident that it will appeal to fans of narrative games.
Of course, the indie sector presents a host of challenges, with discoverability chief among them. The ongoing democratization of game development has resulted in an overcrowded market, making it nearly impossible to guarantee success there. Shiro is well-acquainted with this problem, and is prepared to meet it head on.
“Shiro Unlimited is primarily looking for original concepts that have strong unique selling points, whether that’s related to innovative gameplay mechanics, unique art direction, or something else entirely,” Briatta said. “We’re not particularly looking for the next international hit; we intend to bring cool games to their fans, exactly as we did with Evoland and Northgard. Creating the game itself is the real challenge. Pushing a great product to market with a clear and strong vision is something we already know how to do.”
The indie scene is notoriously challenging, but Briatta and the rest of Shiro have proven they have the chops to navigate its rigorous waters. Moving forward, it will be interesting to track the new publishing initiative.
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