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Nic Watt (left)

Twitter has proven to be a great resource; both for finding news and for finding like-minded people. For Australian independent developer, Nnooo, Twitter also found it its first business opportunity as a publisher.

“We hadn’t actually met Seon (Rozenblum, CEO of 3 Sprockets) before we had organised the partnership,” Nnooo Creative Director, Nic Watt, said. “We basically got in touch with him via Twitter. I really liked the game, and started Tweeting about it on our Nnooo account saying ‘this looks like a really cool game, check it out, it’s really interesting.’”

“Then we started to talk more seriously in the team about publishing and I thought ‘I should talk to Seon and see if he’s interested,’ and I started a Twitter Direct Message conversation with him. From there we went to Skype and had some chats, and then I started to talk to Nintendo to work out the logistics and we kinda evolved from there.”

Nnooo and 3 Sprockets only met face-to-face for the first time at the recent PAX Australia convention. And Nnooo’s publishing business was born.

There’s been a lot written about how the rise of the independent developer and the fact that tools like Unity and digital distribution services are making it easier and easier for developers to produce and self-publish games that are competitive with what the big studios can offer. But according to Watt, there’s still a strong business case that publishers, large and small, can offer to independent developers, and plenty of indie developers are looking for the kind of support that publishers like Nnooo can offer.

“It’s a lot of money to go to E3, GDC and Gamescom every year for discussions with platform holders and to meet the media. It’s a lot of money to spend time doing all of the marketing that a game needs in order to be successful,” Watt said.

Cubemen 2

“Is it really sensible for every developer in Australia to have all these meetings and go to all these events?” Watt added. “What developers are really interested in is making a game. They don’t really want to be spending a lot of time and effort doing other things than making games. It’s not in the skillsets or interest. If they can have someone else do it on their behalf they’re delighted by that.”

This is Nnooo’s value proposition; it’s going to do the marketing stuff that is has spent all of these years building up to the benefit of those it publishers, so allow those small teams to focus their resources on making good games. Cubemen 2 from 3 Sprockets on the Wii U will be the first game, but by no means the last. Already Nnooo is in discussions with a second potential developer partner, and it will look at publishing three to four games a year in the short term.

Australian games will be the focus of Nnooo’s publishing arm in the short term, but Watt said this is not so much a hard-and-fast rule, but one born of convenience and if a big enough opportunity presented itself, the team would be happy to work with other publishers from around the world.

“Because we’re in Australia it makes a lot of sense to focus on Australian developers,” Watt said. “It’s about quality over quantity for us, and if the opportunity came up for games outside of Australia then we would definitely consider it, but we see the biggest opportunities in Australia right now.”

“Since all the big studios have closed down in Australia a lot of people have moved to PC and iOS because they’ve been relatively easy platforms to develop for, not many Australian games are making the transition to console. We want to help diversify the industry in Australia, so that people can continue making games on PC and iOS but we can offer them some additional avenues that they can explore as well.”

Considering that Australian game developers produced just 14 console games in the 2011-2012 financial year, Watt has point; there’s a clear need in the Australian market for a publishers who can help developers move from PC and iOS to the new “indie friendly” consoles, like the Wii U and PlayStation Vita.

As for why Nnooo is working so hard at developing a publishing business, it’s a simple matter of diversifying revenue lines, Watt claimed. “One of the reasons that the studios closed down was they had all their eggs in one basket; they were focused on work-for-hire for the big publishers,” he said. “As soon as that money dried up because the Aussie dollar changed, suddenly these studios were out of business. We want to help everyone diversify away from those risky business models.”

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