Hey folks! Do we have a Super Rare interview for you. We recently had a nice long chat with our good friend Ryan Brown over at Super Rare Games. We spoke at great length about the UK based publishing and distribution company that has brought fantastic indie Nintendo Switch games into physical form. To highlight a few topics, we talked about how Super Rare Games came to be, how they choose which games to publish, exclusive merchandise, and the benefits of Social Media.
Introduction: Saving Private Ryan
Miketendo64: In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers, provide us with some background history, and detail your involvement with Super Rare Games?
Ryan: Of course! I’m Ryan, perhaps better known online as Toadsanime, and I’m the new ‘Head of Saying Stuff’ at Super Rare. Basically, that means if you see any tweets, newsletters, or press releases, chances are they were from me. It’s also my job to get coverage from press, YouTubers, and influencers – and to do cool interviews like this!
You may have seen me around as a games journalist for The Mirror, or my previous PR role at Numskull Designs/Numskull Games.
Part 1: Super Rare Games – The Beginning
Miketendo64: In the name of Time Travel, let’s go back to the beginning where Super Rare Games began, and work our way to the present. What prompted the creation of Super Rare Games and what are your highlights from the last couple of years?
Ryan: Gotta love time travel! I’m new here, but speaking generally, we’re collectors and gamers ourselves. George especially is exceptionally passionate about indie games, and previously worked on ports for some of our first few releases, so it made complete sense to him that titles like the ones he worked on deserved to have physical releases.
I think I can speak for everyone that our highlight has been building relationships and working with so many talented developers. It really is amazing to see just how passionate developers are when they’re as close to the heart of a game as indie devs tend to be. Every single indie developer, whether they’re working on a jam game, hidden gem, or smash hit, works tirelessly hard to bring their vision to light, and rarely see the recognition they deserve for it.
Miketendo64: Just how many people make up the staff behind Super Rare Games?
Ryan: We’re a small, very focused team! Excluding our brilliantly hard-working shipping team (three cheers to them for smashing it while social distancing), the core team is just 5 of us. George Perkins is ‘Head of Doing Stuff’, Stuart Townsend is ‘Head of Colours’, Verity Murphy is ‘Head of Numbers’, Lindsey Reed is ‘Head of Customer Happiness’, and I’m the ‘Head of Saying Stuff’.
Games are and always should be fun and not so serious and formal, so those really are our position titles.
Miketendo64: With the company being mainly focused on publishing games for the Nintendo Switch. Why was the Nintendo Switch chosen specifically to publish games for?
Ryan: Collectors always seem to gravitate towards Nintendo consoles. I think it’s a combination of having nostalgic connections with physical Nintendo games, and the fact that they’re on a cartridge with uniform, slim cases.
I collect physical games myself for all sorts of platforms, but my collecting has really got on to another level with the Switch. There’s something just so fun about it, and it obviously helps that I can play them both at home on the TV and while out and about. I think that resonates with a lot of people, so we’ve been focused on building an awesome Switch collectors audience.
Miketendo64: What are the biggest difficulties Super Rare Games has faced when starting up?
Ryan: I wasn’t there at the start, sadly! But building a brand at the start, convincing both collectors and developers why they should be excited about this new company, that’s always hard. Thankfully, we had some amazing titles right out of the gate, and our branding has always been clear and consistent. I think people really get us and what we’re all about, which is great.
Part 2: Let’s Get Physical
Miketendo64: To date, just how many physical limited-edition releases has Super Rare Games been responsible for, and can you give us a run-through of some of your fastest sellers?
Ryan: We’re just about to take preorders for our 32nd release, which I think makes us the biggest European publisher of Switch titles! Most of our titles are really fast sellers, but Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf may be our fastest. I think people were just really eager to have a game like that get a physical release because there’s honestly not too many of them!
Miketendo64: The games Super Rare Games release, are always in limited quantities and based on a single run. What prompted this particular approach and how has it worked out for you?
Ryan: A lot of it is down to them being indie games. These are titles that, quite often, wouldn’t get the opportunity to get a physical release. Retailers apply most of their space and marketing efforts on the big, AAA title releases – which is understandable, but it means all these amazing games get left out by publishers who have judged that they just wouldn’t get seen at retail.
The great thing about what we do is that we can bring titles that would never see a physical release under normal circumstances because we have this brand that brings together physical game collectors under one roof.
No matter how much digital gaming grows, there will always be thousands and thousands of people who want to actually own a game – to have it in their hands, on a shelf, to last not just for as long as a digital service stays online. And we’ll be there too.
Miketendo64: What makes it viable for developers to come to you as opposed to Nintendo themselves or other video game publishers?
Ryan: Most aspiring game developers grow up wanting to actually hold their game, like they could with all the games they grew up loving, and we give them that opportunity. There’s something so, so special about actually holding and owning a game that you don’t get with a digital experience.
Other publishers may have judged that these sorts of games just won’t get noticed at retail, which is fine, but they deserve to be released in a physical format. Developers want it, fans want it, and collectors want it.
The other, more boring answer, of course, is that indie developers work tirelessly hard but are not exactly rich. The offer to get a new release of your game, which digital sales have likely slowed down for, and you get that instant cash boost with us doing all of the work, is a lifesaver.
Part 3: Come On Then, Show Us The Merchandise
Miketendo64: Other than games, Super Rare Games also sell exclusive merchandise via your online store as well. Who comes up with the idea to produce special goodies like this? Super Rare Games or the developer?
Ryan: It’s often a marriage of the two – sometimes a developer brings up an idea for a special item, sometimes we do! Working on things like our Collector’s Editions, vinyl releases, etc really happens on a case-by-case basis, but they’re really fun to work on.
Question: One product in particular from your store that catches my eye, are the gorgeous SteamWorld Quest trading cards. How did this particular collaboration come about and what was the decision process for the cards featuring the five characters they do, instead of depicting something else?
Ryan: Each of our releases comes with 3 random trading cards, with 5 to collect. Some folks are happy and content with just these extra freebies, some get serious about collecting them all and purchase additional trading card packs. It’s a nice little extra that I think is super fun to collect!
Part 4: Clear And Present (Danger)
Miketend64: Any chance you might be able to walk us through Super Rare Games’ portfolio of products? From past to present?
Ryan: Some of our highlights include Human: Fall Flat, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Worms W.M.D., Snake Pass, N++ Ultimate Edition, Q.U.B.E. 2, Machinarium, SteamWorld Quest, World of Goo, and our latest release, Tricky Towers.
What I love about listing off some of our releases is how instantly noticeable the variety is. If you don’t like a game one month, chances are you’ll like the next one. A lot of collectors – myself included – want the full collection, but if you’re only interested in picking up specific titles that you love, that’s okay. There’s seriously something for everyone across our library, and that goes for our upcoming titles too.
Miketendo64: How has the current world situation (COVID-19) affected Super Rare Games? Have you managed to weather the storm or has it been rough sailing?
Ryan: We’ve been incredibly lucky. We’re safe, and we’re working from home, which we’ve adapted to surprisingly well.
We temporarily froze shipping, which we’ve restarted on May 11th. One of our selling points is that when we announce a new game, we already have the stock in hand, which means shipping is next to instant. Our shipping team is working incredibly hard to get through our backlog of orders, while socially distancing so that we can get back on track – which we’re expecting to be very soon!
Miketendo64: Just recently you guys announced the physical release of Tricky Towers, can you tell us more about the upcoming release? Its availability and any other details you wish to share?
Ryan: Absolutely! Preorders go live on May 28th, and as with all of our previous 4,000 unit releases, we’re expecting it to go fast.
It’s a super fun physics-based puzzler where you try to stack up brick towers, and it still has a really strong fan base of players. It’s crazy watching two people go head-to-head in a match; it’s always such great fun to play or watch.
Our version is actually the ‘Collector’s Edition’, as it comes with all 6 DLC packs included on the cartridge. Having a complete game on the cart for future preservation is such a big thing for us, so it’s really important that we have the game in its entirety on the cart when possible.
Part 5: Social Media & Gaming Communities
Miketendo64: How has using social media been a benefit with marketing your products?
Ryan: It’s one of the best ways to get your message out there. We put a lot of time into our social media channels and building communities there – we love it when people tweet us with pictures of their deliveries! It’s as important to us as most modern businesses.
Miketendo64: There are a number of Switch gaming communities that collect your games and share photos of their collections online with other members of their community. How do you feel that there are communities that are dedicated to collecting games that Super Rare Games has published?
Ryan: Yeah, it’s awesome to be a part of something like this, to see people collecting something that we’ve worked on. We’re collectors ourselves, so these are titles we want to have in our own hands too! It’s amazing to be a part of that and seeing people so receptive to it.
Part 6: Back To The Future Of Super Rare Games
Miketendo64: What does the future hold for the company? Are there plans to expand the business? Will Collector’s editions for games become a regular part of your repertoire, or continue to be here and there between the usual standalone retail editions?
Ryan: We’re still focusing on the Nintendo Switch for the long-term, with Collector’s Editions and other goodies judged on a case-by-case basis. We have lots of awesome games lined up – some of the most exciting stuff we’ve ever worked on on the horizon – so the future’s looking bright. We’re constantly reassessing print numbers based on demand, both for each individual title and in general.
Miketendo64: Other than the games we know about currently, does Super Rare Games have more lined up in the pipeline, and can we expect a new announcement any time soon?
Ryan: I’ll have to graciously back out of teasing any upcoming games, but rest assured, we have a new title every month and I think everyone is going to really dig what we have coming up.
Miketendo64: Without giving too much away, when you do sign a deal to release a new game, what is the design process that goes on with regards to those gorgeous box arts we see on the covers?
Ryan: That’s down to our amazing Head of Colours, Stuart, and the developers. They work together to produce all the cover art, manual artwork, and everything else needed for a release. We say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but we all do when it comes to game covers and which titles we want displaying on our shelves. Our box arts are seriously some of my favorite things about our titles.
Part 7: Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?
Miketendo64: As it stands, what are the games you currently have still available for the public, and for those who have yet to purchase a Super Rare Games title. What is the best way for them to keep up with all your announcements?
Ryan: Our titles usually sell out really fast, due to their rarity, but there are usually a few titles you can still snap up on our site www.superraregames.com if you’re quick. Little Inferno, The Sexy Brutale, World of Goo, and Smoke and Sacrifice still have stock at the time of writing, but that’s bound to change very soon!
To keep up with our announcements, you’re best off following us on social media @SuperRareGames! We have regular announcements, and there’s really something for everyone.
Thanks very much to Ryan for participating in this interview on behalf of Super Rare Games. Please be sure to follow Super Rare Games on Social media to keep up to date with their newest releases and news updates.
This post was written by Mike Scorpio