creator Bungie today announced the details of Bungie Aerospace
, an effort that will provide resources, assistance and exposure to independent mobile and social game developers.
Developers who participate in the program will be able to integrate bungie.net tools into their games, receive promotion on the Bungie web site and get assistance with usability and QA testing from the company.
That kind of professional feedback was a big draw for FASA and 42 Entertainment veteran Jordan Weisman, whose new company Harebrained Schemes is working with Bungie Aerospace on mobile project Crimson
, for a summer release.
"My team is a small 12 to 13 person team," Weisman told Gamasutra. "At that size of an operation... you don't have the wherewithal to have the level of testing, quality assurance, and usability to take some of the rough edges off a product before you ship it. It's rare to get a place that has so many experienced and passionate gamers, and they provide really good feedback."
Bungie's promotional capabilities were also a draw for Weisman. "I felt that the game I was developing could be warmly received from Bungie's audience. ... There are 350,000 apps in the App Store, sometimes it's pretty hard to get noticed. It's a combination of helping make a better game and have an audience to present it to as a launching point."
Bungie stressed that the vast majority of company employees were still focused on building the new universe first announced when the company partnered with Activision last year
, and that Aerospace would therefore start out somewhat limited in its reach.
"[Aerospace] is a small but focused effort inside Bungie... but we think it's a fantastic opportunity to partner with some fantastic talent and help them bring their visions to life and make some really fun games," Bungie COO Pete Parson said. "We're looking for great talent, great experiences, and not for a bunch of quantity."
In choosing which independent developers get to be part of that limited quantity of resources, community manager Eric Osborne said Bungie uses much the same process it uses in vetting internal projects.
"We want to make sure the experiences are gonna resonate, that they're gonna be really fun to play, that they're gonna do something something fun and creative and maybe a little ballsy in the market and we'll go from there," he said.
Specific issues like revenue sharing and IP ownership will differ depending on the individual copmany involved and to what extent they'll be using Bungie's resources, Parsons said.
"Like every other publisher relationship, the developer works really hard, the publisher makes all the money," Weisman joked, before seriously addressing the relationship between Bungie and Aerospace developers. "It does have some of the trappings of a publisher relationship... but different teams are looking for different levels of resources and what type of game they're trying to create."
More than a simple publisher relationship, though, Bungie said it sees Aerospace as an opportunity to learn more about the mobile space that it recently entered with its Bungie Mobile community iOS app
, and as a way to bring people new gaming experiences outside of Bungie's traditional computer and console focus.
"At the end of the day the success metric is not necessarily based on ROI or any of that boring business stuff, but rather on making great games... and that's what gets you ROI," Osborne said.