Insomniac Games is partnering with GameStop for its next release, a “Metroidvania”-styled game set underwater.
Song of the Deep will release this summer for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC at $14.99, with the retailer GameStop publishing the game.
The game will be available in digital stores on all three platforms, with an exclusive retail edition sold only at GameStop.
Song of the Deep is a smaller project from Insomniac, a 2D side-scrolling game taking place in an underwater world. The main character is Merryn, a young Irish girl in search of her father, who went missing after a fishing expedition. Merryn has a dream about her father being lost, which sends her off to rescue him in the depths of the ocean.
Part of the gameplay involves exploring in a submarine, which Merryn builds herself to reunite with her dad. Throughout the game she will uncover lost worlds and encounter various monsters. There will also be gameplay outside of the submarine with Merryn free-roaming underwater. Song of the Deep will feature power-ups and upgrades for the submarine. A major focus of the game will be exploration and solving puzzles throughout the world.
Brian Hastings, chief creative officer at Insomniac, is heading the project, with a team of 15 people developing the game for around a year. Described as a passion project, the idea for Song of the Deep was inspired by Hastings’ own young daughter. The game’s story is influenced by Irish myths. Hastings partly drew those themes for the game after traveling to Ireland a few years ago with his family, he said in an interview with GameSpot.
Ted Price, president and CEO of Insomniac, said Song of the Deep did take part of its gameplay focus from the Metroid franchise, which he and others at Insomniac remain heavily influenced by.
This marks the first time GameStop has published a title in the company’s history. GameStop has offered many exclusive pre-order bonuses and retail-exclusive versions of games like Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii but never published a release itself.
Mark Stanley, vice president of marketing and sales at GameStop, worked closely with Ted Price to form the partnership. It started out as informal conversations, with Stanley asking Price for his input on the game industry and advice on how the retailer could continue to grow its business and directly reach consumers. Insomniac shared details about Song of the Deep with Stanley, which eventually lead to the two sides agreeing on a new business collaboration that Price described as a “non-traditional, developer-publisher relationship.”
Stanley views the game as an experiment in a new venture for the company, seeing how it can more effectively reach its customer base in unconventional ways.
The retail and online chain has been in business since 1984 under different names, with its corporate headquarters based in Grapevine, Texas. The retailer has more than 6,900 stores across 14 countries with over 40,000 employees, according to the company. Its core business models are the selling of pre-owned products and customers trading in their old games towards the purchase of newer titles.
Insomniac owns the IP and has full control over Song of the Deep’s development. Price said GameStop has no creative involvement in the project.
“I think GameStop is taking a very different approach, they’re not a traditional publisher and as a result we have greater control,” Ted Price said in an interview with GameIndustry.biz. “We’re directing the story and how the game unfolds. They’ve been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about the content but will be the first ones to tell you that they’re not game developers and they’re not asking us to change the game.”
GameStop will provide marketing and promotion for the game. Stanley said the company is putting its full force behind Song of the Deep. From educating its employees on the product to in-store placement of advertisements, GameStop locations will prominently feature the game.
“What happens if we point all these things toward one game that we are 1000 percent behind?” Stanley said in the same interview with GameIndustry.biz. “Traditionally what we do with games from various publishers is we piggyback on their marketing and the plans that they have, and we try to leverage our GameStop platform to augment that, but in this case we’re going to really blend the entire structure for marketing around this game from soup to nuts.”
The company will also sell merchandise based on Song of the Deep, like Pop Vinyl figures and a children’s chapter book aimed at ages 8-12, according to IGN. Through the partnership with GameStop, Song of the Deep will expand to other mediums at the game’s launch, a concept Insomniac didn’t initially have when first designing the game. Price said Insomniac wants to grow its new IP beyond just one game like the way it has throughout the studio’s history with other franchises.
Most games of Song of the Deep’s size don’t see a physical release and remain as digital-only titles. Both companies believe this partnership is an opportunity for more people to become exposed to the game, given the retailer’s enormous scale and reach across the U.S. and Europe.
Stanley said if Song of the Deep becomes successful, GameStop could partner with other creators on further collaborations and expand its publishing brand.
The game is already available to pre-order from GameStop.
Insomniac is an independent studio that has worked with publishers like Sony Computer Entertainment, Electronic Arts for Fuse (2013) and most recently with Microsoft Studios for the Xbox One-exclusive Sunset Overdrive (2014). The Burbank, California company was founded in 1994 and is known for developing the Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank and Resistance franchises on PlayStation platforms.
Insomniac’s other upcoming game is Ratchet & Clank on April 12, a PS4 exclusive remake of the original 2002 title on PlayStation 2. The new Ratchet & Clank is also based on the theatrical movie of the same name that’s releasing on April 29. Besides Song of the Deep, the studio is working on a virtual reality game called Edge of Nowhere exclusively for the Oculus Rift.
Watch the Song of the Deep reveal trailer: