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Brighton Rock: Relentless’s Eades on life beyond consoles

Thursday, 21 July 2011 13:11 GMT By LewieP

As his company’s name suggests, nothing can halt Relentless Studios co-founder Andrew Eades. Despite cancelling his Develop presentation, the battler found time to talk to Lewie Procter about the shape of things to come.

Relentless Software

Co-founded in 2003 By Andrew Eades and David Amor.

Independent Brighton-based developer.

Core employees culled from the closure of Computer Artworks.

Exited exclusivity deal with Sony in 2010 to embrace multi-platform development.

Went digital only in early 2011.

Self-published episodic series Blue Toad Murder Files.

Has resisted acquisition attempts.

Looking a little bit like death warmed up, a very ill Eades predicated a similar fate for console gaming.

“Not death of the consoles, but death of the growth in the console business, if you see the subtle differentiation,” he said of the topic of his cancelled presentation. He was supposed to deliver his thoughts on the matter to the Develop Conference yesterday.

“I maintain that there is probably 150 million, to 200 million tops, console gamers out there. If you’re part of the hardcore gamers, you’ve already got a console, and there’s not a lot more we can do to increase that pool of players.”

Although Eades concedes the console gaming scene will grow – “but at a very slow rate” – he’s more excited about the non-traditional devices looking like increasingly relevant games destinations.

“There is a whole world of people out there who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers, but they’re going to have gaming devices in their homes. They’re not called consoles – they’re flat screen TVs that are connected – and I think in 2015 you’re going to be seeing a TV with processing power of a 360 in-built,” he said.

“Samsung are doing this already with their connected TVs. You’ve got a TV with increasing processing power, and it’s always connected to your home internet connection. It’s really a small step to then consider that as a console type device.”

A similar increase in grunt is happening with devices like the iPad, and Eades expects that to accelerate until it reaches a similar growth pattern as PCs – Moore’s Law, in other words.

“I’m looking at devices that David [Armor], my business partner, likes to call stealth gaming devices like iPhone. People don’t buy iPhone just to play games on, but they find themselves playing games on them increasingly.

“I’m looking at stealth gaming devices.”

“People don’t buy a shiny new LED flatscreen TV to play games on without a console, but they are slowly finding that there is a games channel on there, and they can play games.”

Asked if he sees electronics companies taking over from the big three of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, Eades pointed out that Sony is remarkably well-positioned for that transtion.

“That TV screen in your living room is really important real estate to companies. Now, Sony recognised that a long time ago, and brought the Playstation brand into your living room, connected to your Bravia TV – hopefully.

“Microsoft recognised that this is something they can’t miss, and started building consoles for the living room based on PC technology. Apple are in there with the Apple TV, but it doesn’t take a massive leap of imagination to think about the Apple TV being switched on to be games capable, and then you’ve got a viable console there. And obviously there’s always rumours about an actual Apple screen, big screen TV. Google had a go earlier this year with their Google TV.

“So all the main players in this market are all trying to do that. They all want to own the distribution to your living room television, because that’s really powerful.”

New hardware, new markets

Relentless’s aim is to build “perfect games for a social, living room environment,” Eades said, citing the Buzz! series of quiz games as examples of titles that require no specialist gaming knowledge to engage with.

“If you’re a gamer, and you see a crate, you know exactly what that means, and you know what to do. Now, I’m yet to find a crate in real life that provides me with health. It’s a videogame metaphor and language that we all understand.

“It’s not about denying that hardcore console market, but there is a much bigger market of what I call non-gamers, or ordinary people.”

“But if you got someone and convinced them to play a first-person shooter, after getting them to grips with the control system – which they won’t understand because they’ve never done it before, and it’s quite hard – then they see a crate, they will not know naturally what to do with the crate.

“At Relentless is use different languages, and what I mean by that is we use the language of TV. So we make a quiz game, but it’s a TV show. We make a murder mystery game, but it’s set out like an episodic murder mystery narrative that you might see on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

“For us, it’s not about denying that hardcore console market. There is a market there, but there is a much bigger market of what I call non-gamers, or ordinary people, and they are not going to know how to play Call of Duty, but they will know how to play Quiz Climber, Buzz and Blue Toad.”

Exit Sony, stage right

The Buzz! franchise launched in 2005 with Buzz! The Music Quiz on PlayStation 2, which netted two Develop awards for Relentless and Sony, for Best New Intellectual Property and Best Innovation. In the interim, Relentless has gone on to make more than ten titles – and ended its relationship with SCEE.

“The biggest change in those five years is that we’ve become more independent of Sony, and we’re doing more multi-platform, multiple products, for both self publishing, and doing stuff for our two different people,” Eades said of Relentless’ growth since then.

“If you think about our audience; when we first did Buzz!, there were maybe 100 million PS2s, and we felt it was a good target audience. And at that time, PS2 was being bought as a DVD player by many people, and it was about £100 I think, so it was about the right price, and people were buying it as not a games machine, but a stealth gaming machine.

“I had a meeting with Ray Maguire from Sony, and he said, ‘I’ve sold as many PS2s as I can to the gamers guys, I need something like this to sell be able to sell more Playstations.’ And he was right, we sold a lot of Buzz branded PS2s in 2005, 2006.

“Fast forward to 2010, and our exclusivity with Sony came up for renewal, and you’re looking at 35 million PS3s in the market, a disrupted games industry, completely disrupted by Nintendo Wii, and by Facebook, and by Zynga and by Popcap, iPhone. It’s a completely different world.

“Also, PS3 is far more hardcore that PS2 was, and I think it’s going to take them maybe another round to be aiming at our target demographic. Relentless’s desire to not change what we do meant we had to change out partners.”

Relentless signed up with Disney Interactive, but shortly thereafter the publisher severely scaled back its investment in games publishing. Casting around, Relentless fixed on Microsoft, which was getting ready to launch Kinect – targeting “exactly the market we make our games for,” Eades said.

“Now we’ve got a new partnership with Microsoft, so we’ll be delivering more on Kinect. To be honest, I like thinking of Kinect as a platform in it’s own right, and I think that’s what Microsoft are encouraging people to think of. For me, that’s perfect, so we’re not making games for 360 and Kinect, we’re making Kinect games.”

Adapating and moving on

Relentless’s latest release is an iOS title in its signature genre, called Quiz Climber. Launched on Thursday, it’s already performing better than forecasted. With a platform deal and independent success, Relentless has one of the brightest outlooks of any UK developer, in a period of closures and doom.

Neighbour Black Rock Studios is an example of those who’ve felt the headsman’s axe, but Eades urged local developers to see the silver lining and grow stronger through adversity.

“Obviously it’s pretty rotten for the people who’ve lost their jobs, and I feel pretty rotten for them and their families right now, but I truly believe that some good will come from this,” he said. “There’s a number of people starting up, some very talented people.

“We’ll employ as many as we can, and we’ve gone through the same seismic shifts. We were all down the pub a couple of weeks ago, actually the day they announced the closure of the studio, or the day after.

“There were people, not quite crying into their pints, but there was some dejection and downheartedness, because they’d been through a terrible process, and I really feel for that, having been on the other side of it and looking in at it in my own company. Somewhat less severe, but I know how people feel about these things.

“Big companies don’t just ping into existence.”

“But there are a number of startups, as I said. I think if we keep positive, and look to new opportunities, then there’ll be a number of companies that you’ll be interviewing in five years time about how successful they’ve been out of decimation of Black Rock. Relentless Software came out of the closure of Computer Artworks, and out of 100 people, we were nine. Or 11. Or about 10, say 10; I can’t remember.

“It wasn’t everyone, but we grew into a bigger company. Big companies don’t just ping into existence, they have to grow from smaller companies. Some will be successful, and some won’t, but everyone in the Brighton games community is doing absolutely everything they can to help everyone succeed in their new companies. I hope it works for everyone.”

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3 Comments

  1. manamana

    Maybe I didn’t catch something in this article but what are they developing for Kinect right now? And what else do they have in pipeline? Are they also entering the Smartphone business, or was he just talking about new gaming devices and future console/Telly concepts? o.O

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Brenna Hillier

    Relentless definitely is entering the smartphone market – it says so up there. It released its first iOS game last week.

    It’s not actually saying what its got in the pipeline for Kinect I think.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. manamana

    Ah, ok – thanks.

    #3 4 years ago

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    We’ve finally got some juicy details on the next Fire Emblem game, but the most interesting aspect is that there will be two versions of the game. According to Siliconera, who translated an interview between Intelligent Systems and 4Gamer, there will a White Kingdom and a Black Kingdom version that offer different aspects of the […]

  • Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess heads west with “Golden Toilet” pre-order bonus

    Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess will debut on western PlayStation 4 systems this summer, Koei Tecmo has announced. It is also coming to PS3 and Vita. The game was produced by Keisuke Kikuchi of Fatal Frame fame and takes up where Deception 4: Blood Ties left off allowing players to relive Laegrinna’s pursuit to free […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario demo, Paper Mario, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo of Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, Paper Mario on Virtual Console, and amiibo Tap. The full update is below. eShop update amiibo Tap – free – Wii U Star Wars Pinball DLC – Wii U Paper Mario – Wii U […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC port handed off to Nixxes

    The PC port of the new Deus Ex has been handed over to Netherlands based studio, Nixxes software. After the initial reveal trailer at the beginning of April, we’ve only had a few morsels in the way of additional news. The most intriguing tidbit to date has got to be the fact that you’ll be […]

  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]

  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]