The funding is a milestone for the Spanish game company, which is working on an unannounced title for release in 2021. Lince Works isn’t revealing the name of that PC and console title until perhaps the summer.
Besides Game Seer, the investors include the Catalan government’s Generalitat de Catalunya.
Path of Shadows
David León Molero, Álvaro Muñoz Varga, and Eduard Soler founded the studio, with chief operating officer Pere Rius joining after. All told, the studio now has 17 people. The founders worked together at school on a university project called Path of Shadows.
“We tried to send [resumes] to game companies in Spain, but we didn’t get answers from anybody,” Leon Molero said in an interview with GamesBeat. “So the only possible outcome was to migrate to another country or create a new company.”
In 2016, they released their first title, Aragami, a 3D stealth action game on the PC and PlayStation 4. It later came out on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, and it has now sold more than 500,000 units. As a self-published title, that’s remarkable.
Leon Molero said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company is still pursuing a genre that “we have been successful with,” with more scope and ambition and meaningful online co-op mechanics. Activision’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which won a lot of awards last year, brought the genre to the center of attention. The upcoming PlayStation title, Ghost of Tsushima, will elevate the genre further, said Bertrand Vernizeau, CEO of Game Seer, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“It’s an indie studio that managed to sell a half a million copies on its own,” said Vernizeau. “Now they’re moved to the double-A or triple-A space.”
With the original game, the company had no choice but to self-publish Aragami. The team had some fans who liked Path of Shadow, and they communicated openly with the fans, helping Aragami become a success.
After the release of Aragami’s downloadable content, they wanted to go one step further in the genre, and that meant higher costs. That’s why the company decided to raise money. Lince Works had several discussions with publishers and investors, and it finally found the best partner for the strategy in newcomer Game Seer, which believed in the game and has a lot of experience with marketing and distribution.
Game Seer is financing the game but giving the team freedom in terms of development and publishing. But the parties say that they openly share their plans and doubts, and where they need support, both financially and in finding the right business partners.
To have the largest reach as possible for the next titles, Lince Works is looking for marketing and distribution partners. It has already had advanced discussions with first parties. The goal is now to find partners to distribute the game, like in Asia for instance, but also to involve local partners in communication with fans.
“Other publishers had this traditional approach,” Leon Molero said. “The risks are high when you try to innovate. The first time around, we found the publishers were more interested in predatory agreements where they kept the intellectual property or more royalties. We had to keep on working with no funding until the latest stages of the development, when Sony finally helped us.”
With publishers, you can lose control of the creative process or have no insight into the marketing budget that they will spend on promoting the game,” Leon Molero said.
“We are interested in betting on projects,” Vernizeau said. “We don’t want to mess with their creativity or the development or make them deal with the distribution. We don’t touch the artistic direction at all. We believe it’s a sacred thing that actually investors should not touch.”
The Barcelona life
Leon Molero said he was pleased at how Barcelona has grown into a stronger video game development hub, with companies such as Riot Games, King, and many others opening studios in the city. As for the coronavirus, Leon Molero said that, as a small studio, it hasn’t had much of an impact on his business yet.
“Production is still going full-speed ahead,” he said.