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Midnight City aims to be 'more than just a game publisher'

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Majesco's recently announced indie game publisher, Midnight City, aims to be "more than just a game publisher" by working with a variety of different partners to bring new ideas into the space, founder Casey Lynch told Polygon during a recent interview.

We spoke with Lynch during PAX Prime 2013, where the publisher was showcasing different titles from its recently announced lineup. According to Lynch, the publisher is taking an unorthodox approach that doesn't necessarily follow the traditional chain of publisher, developer, press, consumer.

"We feel like there's stories to tell and things to do outside of that, so we're partnering with a lot of different people, in a lot of interesting places to do all that stuff," Lynch said. " ... When it comes to picking games, we want to have a discovery element so that people associate us with some stuff they've already heard of, but some stuff they've never even seen before."

There is no hardset checklist for how Midnight City chooses the game it sponsors, but Lynch says the publisher looks for titles that have something to say, a unique point of view or are just downright fun. In the case of the already announced 10 titles, Lynch said that he simply reached out to developers to start a partnership.

"Now it'll be different because people will have heard of us, but I'll say 'Hey I'm interested in talking to you about helping publish your games on other consoles or figuring out how we might work together,'" Lynch said. "That's something that's really different about us too, is we're not a traditional publisher. We built this like a record label. We try to relate to developers where they are."

The help Midnight City provides varies from game to game. Of the 10 projects the publisher picked up, only two needed funding. Others need help bringing their title to consoles.

"We built this like a record label. We try to relate to developers like where they are."

"In the courting process, I try and figure out what a developer needs and interestingly almost all of our deals are different," Lynch said. "Our legal department hates us."

For Organic Panic developer Last Limb Games, the publisher appeared at "just the right time," founder and CEO Damon Branch said.

"What these guys do is really give you the marketing clout, where the other guys are going to give you a little bit of money, maybe help you out creatively," Branch said. "... Our skill is developing and making these games, and we have no idea how to get the word out. The money for us wasn't even the point. We have no advance from these guys. They're not giving us any money. They're helping us finish the game."

Branch added that many other indie developers are in the same boat, and that it's too often that good indie titles get lost in the crowd. Midnight City helps vet that process, he said.

"There's thousands of indie games," Branch said. "How do you know which ones to look at, as a consumer? Which ones should I pay attention to? Midnight City does that filtering for you. ... Of these games, they see if it gets viral internally and if it does and everyone's playing it, then they start talking business. It's a good model."

The process is beneficial to both consumer and developer, Lynch said, giving the example of PlayStation 3 hit Journey. If the game had been released on more platforms, it could have rocketed into even bigger success — and more players would have gotten a chance with it.

"For me, I just love working with independent developers. They're smart. The way that they process making games is very different than a big company or a big corporation, and it's a joy and an honor to work with two guys and watch them make a game. It's fucking awesome."