The lights are on
Yesterday, The Fullbright Company announced that its award-winning game, Gone Home, is headed for consoles. We had a chance to catch up with company co-founder Steve Gaynor to discuss bringing the experience to new audiences.
Given the team’s experience with PC and console action games, they already have an understanding of what is necessary to make the game a living room experience. “The great thing for us, and the reason this was such an easy decision, was that we designed Gone Home as a couch experience as well as a PC experience from the beginning,” Gaynor says. We designed all the text to be readable from the couch, and we tested it playing on the couch.”
Gone Home will be published by Majesco’s indie label, Midnight City. “Midnight City is the scale of organization that we want to work with,” Gaynor says. “One of the fears of working with a big publisher is that you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. Midnight City is a curated indie label within the Majesco organization. It was a partnership that felt right to us.”
Gaynor isn’t able to talk about which home consoles the title is coming to yet, but it will be coming before the end of the year. We asked about whether The Fullbright Company is participating in Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program as part of its planning.
“One of the advantages of a setup like this is that I don’t really have to know that,” he says. “Midnight City is going to figure out what the road to getting the game on consoles is.”
Part of that path is drawing a console audience to the title, which is a departure from much of what’s available on those platforms. Gaynor isn’t concerned about bridging that gap, though.
“I think there are a lot of examples of games that are slightly less traditional in tone and gameplay doing well on console,” he says. “I think that Limbo and Braid are a couple of examples that jump to mind. We’re seeing more of these experiences coming to console. Thomas Was Alone is on Vita and PS3, and the Dear Esther folks are bringing their next game, exclusively launching it on PS4.”
Conventional wisdom is that platform parity (launching on as many platforms as possible simultaneously) is the right way to launch a game. Gaynor sees benefit from Gone Home’s staggered release, though.
“One of the advantages of the approach we’re taking on bringing Gone Home to consoles and the timing of it is, I hope, that the reception to the PC version and the reception that it’s had will give us an advantage when we do come out on console,” he says. “More of the audience will be able to say, ‘I’ve heard of that.’”
Part of that word of mouth has been generated by the YouTube community. “I know from people having written us emails that there have been tons of people that have either watched a Let’s Play and had a very powerful response to the game as a viewer, or that [saw] a YouTuber play through and then bought the game and played it themselves,” Gaynor tells us. “That’s fascinating to me, and I have no objection to it. It’s a different way for people to engage with what’s in the game. Each player’s experience is unique to them, because you’re interacting with it in your own way.”
The Fullbright Company won’t be making any major changes to the title for a console audience. We joke about boss battles and new weapons after.
“We are not adding stuff for the sake of adding it. Gone Home only works because it is a self-contained, complete thing. Our concentration is definitely not on altering the game from what we’ve already released. We’re making sure it is the very best version of the game that it can be on each platform.”