While thatgamecompany's three game deal with Sony produced three financial and critical successes, studio co-founder Jenova Chen admits that platform exclusivity was something that held them back from their true aspirations. "A lot of people tell us that flOw or Flower is the first game that their girlfriend, or mom, has played," proof that TGC's emotional experiences can attract new audiences. Still, with "over 90% male distribution" on PlayStation hardware, TGC wants to broaden its horizons.
"We just want to bring these games to the people. For us, we can make a good game on any platform, but we'd like to choose platforms on which we can deliver an experience that we can give to everyone, rather than just people that have a PlayStation 3. I think Sony understands that desire."
The studio announced their independence shortly before releasing their last game, Journey. And they're already working on their next game, largely rumored to be an online title. Chen wouldn't reveal what business model TGC's next game will employ, but we did have a lengthy discussion on the burgeoning free-to-play movement. Describing it as a "more powerful and flexible business model," he notes that free-to-play has the greatest chance of reaching the largest audience--a key goal of TGC. Unfortunately, "people started exploiting this model. They designed all these tricks to make people spend a lot more money without more quality. And that's what's turning people off."
"But this is a business opportunity for me. In the vast ocean of games out there in the marketplace, there's a lot of viciousness." Chen believes he and his team can do things differently.
"Players are the most important people to me. They give me a purpose. I want to make sure that players that play our games find it valuable. It's something that helps them, not exploit them. I believe if we design our game with that in mind, you can sense it. Maybe you can't describe it, but you can feel it, and that's something that's so needed in the market."