Relentless: exclusivity “a blessing and a curse”
Brighton-based Relentless Software has spoken of its experiences since its exclusivity deal with Sony expired last year, and admits that operating under Sony's watchful eye was "both a blessing and a curse."
When the deal expired it brought down the curtain on a seven-year relationship that began when Andrew Eades and David Amor, then of Computer Artworks, were working on what would become DJ: Decks & FX for SCEE. When Computer Artworks folded, the pair convinced Sony that they could set up a company of their own and finish the job.
The pair duly co-founded Relentless Software, and after work on the music title was completed the studio devised and developed the Buzz quiz game series. Late last year Relentless announced its intent to shift to multiplatform development, with a greater focus on digital distribution.
With that shift now complete, and iOS debut Quiz Climber set for release next month, Eades explains to us why the decision was taken, and how different life at the studio has become now that it is in control of its own destiny.
"Working exclusively with Sony was both a blessing and a curse," he says. "We were working with the world's premier console maker in the PS2 days, on a massive franchise that we'd invented. And we were kind of treated like an internal studio.
"At the same time, we weren't fully internalised, so we didn't really feel we had a seat at the table where decisions about our future were actually being made. That became an increasing source of frustration: we know what we're doing, and we've got something to add to that conversation, but because we're not fully internal we have no right to be at the table."
So, Relentless made the decision to go independent, but Eades admits it could have been timed slightly better. "It was a lot harder than we imagined it could be," he says, "and if you were going to choose a year to quit your cosy, exclusive arrangement with Sony, 2010 was probably not the best choice – all the money just disappeared out of the industry at exactly that point.
"But we got through it, we survived, we made some good deals. We're on track, we're on plan, we've reorganised the whole studio to reflect our new focus and we've got some great products coming out."
The first of those products will be Quiz Climber, to be released through Chillingo, the mobile publisher/distributor that last week announced that its games – which include Angry Birds and Cut The Rope – have notched up more than 140 million downloads on iOS.
Relentless has also partnered with Microsoft, with Music In Motion to be released as part of Kinect Fun Labs, with further Kinect titles to be announced in the coming months. Our full interview with Eades will be published on the site soon.