Gambitious, the hybrid indie game publisher and investment platform, is changing its name to Good Shepherd Entertainment. It’s also staffing up with a complement of full-time hires thanks to a new round of investment from Advance/Newhouse.
Good Shepherd will have the same mission and format as Gambitious, which was founded in 2012. As a hybrid publisher and investment platform, it signs up indie developers and promises them a sum of money and other forms of support in order to complete their game. Unlike other platforms, like Fig or Kickstarter, that sum is guaranteed by Good Shepherd. Shares in each project are then sold as an investment opportunity to a small group of accredited investors.
Chief creative officer Mike Wilson says Good Shepherd’s goal is to expand, and to do so they’ll need many more investors over the next year.
“It’s been growing very organically with a friends and family network at first,” Wilson told Polygon. “This time last year we wanted to try to add some more investors and I think we're just over 100 now. Pretty happy investors. And we'd like to grow that number, to double that number by this time next year and just keep it going so we can keep greenlighting more games.”
The first game to be funded under the Good Shepherd name will be Where The Water Tastes Like Wine. It’s the brainchild of Johnnemann Nordhagen, the lead programmer on The Fullbright Company's Gone Home. First announced in 2014, it’s a game where players collect and trade stories as they travel across rural America. The game’s 16 writers include Anne Toole (The Witcher) and Emily Short (Sunless Sea) as well as critics and members of the gaming press such as Austin Walker (Waypoint) Gita Jackson (Kotaku) and Leigh Alexander among others.
It’s a project that Wilson himself is particularly fond of.
“It synced up so well with what we wanted to do,” Wilson said. “We're going to be a real publisher, you know? And we're stating our name and sort of trying to establish ourselves in what's becoming a very crowded and competitive indie publishing marketing space.
“We started talking about what we wanted to do and be known for, and what we've realized over the past few years is that a lot of these indies really need help with the ... the fringe development or the polish of these games, which is often the writing and music and the voice acting.”
Good Shepherd will be lending its industry connections, as well as its investment dollars, to bring the game to market. Nordhagen’s website says we can expect it to launch some time in 2017.
Under Wilson’s leadership, in 2016 alone Gambitious raked in more than $2.6 million in investment, picking up some of the slack from Kickstarter’s precipitous 60 percent decline in the video game space. Since 2012, Gambitious turned those investment dollars into returns on a regular basis, turning a profit on titles such as Transport Fever, Oh Sir: The Insult Simulator, the Hard West series and Zombie Night Terror.
Wilson, co-founder of indie publisher Devolver Digital, tells Polygon that he will stay on in his role with that company while dedicating the majority of his time to Good Shepherd.
“We've shipped 14 games now and nine of those have earned out in the first year,” Wilson said. “Our very first game, actually, that we shipped, Train Fever back in 2014, was I think the first officially successfully equity crowdfunded game anywhere. [Our investors] doubled their money pretty quickly and they're still getting checks.”