With digital game purchases fast on the rise, retail stores like GameStop need to find ways to diversify, or at least offer games that can’t be found elsewhere. That’s where the partnership between GameStop and Insomniac Games (creators of Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive) comes in. The independent developer made an all-new game called Song of the Deep with GameStop as the publisher, which premiered at PAX South in January, and will release for PC and consoles this summer as an in-store exclusive before becoming available digitally.

[a]listdaily talked to Insomniac Games’ chief brand officer, Ryan Schneider, about working with the retailer-turned-game-publisher, and how GameStop’s marketing power could turn Song of the Deep into a huge hit.

Ryan SchneiderTell us about Song of the Deep.

Song of the Deep is a Metroidvania-style game about a young girl who will stop at nothing to find her father, who’s lost at sea. The story is inspired by Insomniac chief creative officer Brian Hastings’ desire to share a lesson with his young daughter about the nature of heroism, and how far we will go to help those we love.

How did this partnership between Insomniac and GameStop come together?

The partnership organically evolved through an existing relationship between (Insomniac Games CEO and founder) Ted Price and Mark Stanley (global lead, internal development and diversification at GameStop). The two were meeting informally last year, and when Mark mentioned GameStop’s desire to explore non-traditional ways to reach more customers, Ted explained that Insomniac had a game idea we were really excited about – and the partnership was born.

What was the general response to Song of the Deep‘s premiere at PAX South?

The general response has been and continues to be positive. The sheer volume of interest has exceeded our expectations, and we’re encouraged that many people have commented specifically on the heartfelt story, music and beautiful yet haunting visual aesthetic.

As the first game published by GameStop, were there any early expectations about what it should be?

GameStop has been incredibly supportive of our creative process. Mark and his entire team have empowered Insomniac to exercise complete creative control and make all final creative decisions since the project’s first moments.

Has working with GameStop, which is best known as a retailer, been different than working with a more traditional publisher?

Many facets of GameStop’s day-to-day support for Song of the Deep feel similar to how a traditional publisher would work with us. But perhaps since this is a new role for GameStop, their team members approach our partnership with a level of enthusiasm and freshness that has invigorated both the production and marketing teams here in the studio. Collectively, there’s a lot of positive, creative energy flowing back and forth, and that manifests itself in the quality of our work at all levels.


In what ways is GameStop working to promote the game?

GameStop has been fantastic about promoting Song of the Deep so far, whether in its thousands of stores worldwide, in person at events like PAX South, through creative partnerships like our forthcoming novel with Barnes & Noble (written by Brian Hastings), and a variety of merchandise coming soon. But the most important aspect for us though is how much GameStop’s employees believe in Song of the Deep, and in Insomniac. We’ve been very excited by the passion GameStop employees exhibit when we visit local stores and ask about the game. It inspires us further to make the greatest game we possibly can.

How does Song of the Deep stand out among Insomniac’s other games like Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive, and the Resistance series?

We hope that all our games, no matter how big or small, feel like they’re handcrafted and made by passionate gamers, for passionate gamers. Song of the Deep is no different from our other titles in that regard. As far as how it will stand out amidst a sea of Metroidvania-style games (couldn’t resist the ocean pun), we believe the underwater theme, varied exploration and combat, and mesmerizing visual detail will offer players an extra layer of sophistication and polish.

Since GameStop purchased ThinkGeek last year, do you think we’ll soon see a line of Song of the Deep-themed toys and figures following the game’s release?

I think that’s entirely possible.