When Gamasutra recently spoke to GameTap content VP Ricardo Sanchez to discuss his advice on the episodic content trend, we also got the opportunity to ask the exec at the Turner-owned PC game subscription service a few questions about the state of its union and its future plans.
Sanchez is pleased with the performance of Sam & Max and very enthusiastic about the upcoming unveiling of American McGee's Grimm. But last year, GameTap announced it would bring Derek Smart's Galactic Command: Echo Squad to the series -- and when we asked him how that game was coming, we learned that it actually isn't.
"It was a good game, it was very solid, but as we were going through, it ended up not being the right title for our audience," says Sanchez. "It was a tough call. I think it’s one of the strongest games [Derek] ever made. We put a lot of effort into it... I honestly think it's one of Derek’s strongest games."
So why kibosh it? Sanchez says ultimately his team decided the space shooter just wasn't the best fit for GameTap's somewhat more casual audience. "We could put a lot of promos behind it, but it wouldn’t resonate too strongly with our audience... We thought it would succeed better with Derek's core base."
Smart still plans to release the game, Sanchez adds -- just not through GameTap. At the time the partnership was announced, Smart indicated he was hoping to bring the title to Xbox Live.
Based on GameTap parent Turner's relationship with Myst developer Cyan and the fact that the game was already fully developed, Sanchez says, it was a good opportunity to test the waters.
"We were interested in what effect it would have on our subscriber base," Sanchez explains. "We found, as we were making the game available to consumers, that the audience was not as large as we initially thought it would be. There are not as many people interested in an adventure MMO as our initial research led us to believe."
In the end, Sanchez says, there simply didn't appear to be a growth opportunity there. "It was doing okay; it would have continued to do okay. But we weren't going to be able to financially support it to create enough content to make it a fabulous game."
In addition to adding more documentaries on the GameTap TV area, Sanchez also plans to continue focusing on independent games. "We have really been amping up our indies program," he says. "With the IGF [coming up], it's pretty relevant. I don't know exactly how many indies we've got, but in the last year, we've signed a lot. FPS, RPGs, puzzle-action games... we've really been looking for the best indie content to bring to GameTap consumers."
And that seems to be Sanchez's plan in general -- he prioritizes user feedback and the performance of titles on the site to determine GameTap's direction going forward, and would rather concentrate resources on titles that resonate with the audience rather than divert them to projects that drum up less interest.