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[Industry Interview #035] Iggy (Co-Founder of 1Print Games)

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to share my interview with Iggy from 1Print Games and NintendoSoup. With their first release, Kero Blaster, now available to preorder here and ready to begin shipping on 11/29, what better time to learn more about this new indie physical publisher. So without further ado, let's get into it!

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Hi Iggy! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I'm the co-founder of new independent physical publisher 1Print Games and Nintendo fan site NintendoSoup. Besides these two entities, my company also operates a few other sites and social media accounts, some big and some small. What you may not know is, just like Nitro who is the co-founder of both 1Print Games and NintendoSoup, both of us are college students. Before we dive into 1Print Games, let’s get personal. What was the first console and game you remember playing? I started off really late as my first console was the Nintendo DS Lite. I bought it just to play New Super Mario Bros. haha. What is your fondest childhood video game memory? Before the DS Lite I used to play games on my Sony Ericsson phone and PC. I had lots of fun with the LEGO PC games like LEGO Loco and LEGO Racers. Really liked M&M's The Lost Formulas. I also remember the days where I struggled with Deep Abyss and Honey Cave on my Sony Ericsson. Funny enough the games before the smartphone era had more meat than the F2P nonsense we see today. NintendoSoup is a premiere site for all news Nintendo as well as an online store for select import games/accessories! How did this get started? I had lunch with Nitro sometime in late May 2017 and we discussed the idea of setting up a Nintendo fansite where we discuss the happy, sad, surprising, angry, and informative news of all things Nintendo. We decided on the name "NintendoSoup" as first, I like eating soup, and second it represents the kind of news and content we hope to deliver to our readers. Overall it was a huge success as we broke 10 million page views in 2018, less than 2 years since the launch.  We always had some idea of opening a store for NintendoSoup but didn't really know what to offer until sometime in 2018, where I said let's offer hard-to-get items from Japan. This later expanded to Southeast Asia. We launched NintendoSoup Store in October 2018 and it's a huge success, but it has become so overwhelming that we have a backlog of inquiries right now. So after Nitro is done with his exams before the year ends we are planning to improve our store processes and enhance the customer experience.

Recently, an announcement came out stating that you were stepping down from your daily role. What led to this change? I have always planned to step down as Editor-in-Chief in 2019/2020 to focus on other projects. I prepared GALA-MOS to succeed me as Editor-in-Chief for many months before the announcement was made in November. Stepping down gives me more time to run 1Print Games and our other future projects (also time to sleep). I'll still be writing news but GALA-MOS has full authority and final say over all editorial matters (aka veto power). It’s 1Print Games’ time! The newest physical publisher for the Nintendo Switch and we want to know all about it. So let’s start at the beginning. How did this come to be and what’s your role in the company? Initially we had an idea that was unrelated to 1Print Games which involved indies and we wanted to help them broaden their reach and games. We felt the time wasn't right for the idea, but the core principle of "celebrating indie games" stuck in our heads. So we assessed the feasibility of releasing physical indie games instead and asked ourselves, could we do something better and could we offer the kind of high quality products we envision to our customers? Since the answers were yes, we went all-in. I'm the director of 1Print Games. I discuss with the developers we work with to come up with a final product that's in line with their vision. I also talk to Nintendo and our supply chain partners for business matters. And I'm involved with the PR/marketing side of things. Kero Blaster, Ittle Dew, and Death Squared were just announced. How exciting is it to have lined up these games? Absolutely exciting! I know how important all three games are not just to fans but gamers who enjoy indie games. We worked really hard to secure them. Since the beginning we have always wanted to have Mario, Zelda, and Tetris as our first 3 games, and I felt we achieved that!

Can you share some insight into the process of getting these digital only games physically? Lots of work goes into putting out these physical releases. Not only do they comprise of the physical game but many other items such as the numbered authenticity card, booklet, acrylic keychain, logo sticker, and sometimes the original soundtrack CD. We usually discuss ideas with the developers, suggest ideas, and ask what they would like to see in their Limited Editions. It's a collaborative effort for everyone. At the end of the day, we want to make sure everything is in line with their vision. Studio PIXEL and PLAYISM were very satisfied with the end product. We also have to make sure there are no typos and all the little details line up. Once the design stage is done, we move into production for everything that needs to be made. Now let’s get to the logistics as I know many are going to want the specific details of your releases. First off, what kind of business model are you going to be adopting when it comes to your preorder/releases (open preorder, limited number, etc.)? At 1Print Games, our mission is to celebrate indie games and ensure everyone gets a copy of what they want. So we see ourselves as an indie physical publisher rather than a "limited publisher". These games will be primarily offered through the 1Print Games website. So I would say our model is a hybrid model. The first copies of all of our releases are in-hand, meaning customers don't have to wait too long to receive their game. This obviously will not apply to the triple set, as the sets will only be fulfilled once all three games are in-hand. We also have what we call a "last chance pre-order" period. Should the first copies run out within this period, we will still provide more copies to those who want it. After that is over, we don't plan to make anymore. We do no plan to release figures (i.e. limited to X number of copies) for all of our games, but we may do so after the end of the last chance pre-order.

How frequent do you plan to release games? At this time, the first three games are spaced out by 1 - 2 months. Although we have mentioned both Ittle Dew and Death Squared will be released in 2020, we already have an idea of when they would actually release. And I think we will be able to deliver by our internal deadlines. There's a chance we will move things up so we are not making any promises for now.  We are focusing on quality, not quantity. If we could sign all the games we want, it'd be maximum one release a month. How far in advance do you plan on announcing titles prior to customers being able to preorder/purchase? We will probably give a 1 - 2 weeks heads up for future titles, and we will do it once we have everything in-hand. There could be teasers for future titles that are months before they are in-hand and go on sale. Will your release be standard, CE, or both? We will offer all of our releases as Limited Editions, so they come with the game, acrylic keychain, numbered authenticity card, booklet, and logo sticker. Some releases might come with the original soundtrack CD.  We have no plans for Collector's Editions at this time, but we would do it if we could make something that's incredibly unique. I have always believed not every game should receive a Collector's Edition, like Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe shouldn't have CEs. 

What price point are you looking to release your games at? The games would be around $32.99 - $34.99. Games with original soundtrack CDs will be priced at $34.99 due to the extra cost of production. Also I'd like to mention that games with soundtrack CDs are heavier in weight (close to 100g/3.5oz) so shipping costs will be higher. Aside from your first three, can you tease game #4 today? It's too early to say at this time, so please look forward to what we have in store in 2020. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. Given the number of publishers in this space, how do you plan to differentiate yourself from them? We see ourselves as an indie physical publisher rather than a "limited publisher". Hence the only similarities between us and "limited publishers" are, we do indie games, and we primarily sell them through our site. So as you have seen with our launch lineup we have set a very high bar for ourselves, and we will continue to maintain that standard. The extra goodies that come with our games are also a way of differentiating ourselves from other publishers. Our hybrid model which combines the in-hand and open pre-order/last chance pre-order model is also another thing, and we won't focus too much on how many copies we have printed for a game. Essentially we will focus on the games and I absolutely believe in our games. On a personal level, do you feel this market of publishers getting too crowded? Personally I do not think that's the case. But if you're referring to the number of "limited releases" put out every month, I would say it's starting to become crowded. If you had your choice, what is your #1 Switch digital games you would absolutely love to bring physical? Untitled Goose Game is definitely the top on my list by a huge margin. What games are you currently playing and looking forward to? I'm playing a bit of Minecraft and a bit of Tetris 99 right now. Also revisiting Ittle Dew at this time. Looking forward to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Momotaro Dentetsu: Showa Heisei Reiwa, and the Daigasso Band Bros. wwitch game which is likely to happen in the next few years.

Thank you again and I wish you much success!

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