How Arkedo learned to love downloadable games

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Hell Yeah! is the first full-scale digital release by French studio Arkedo, after two boxed DS games and a few tentative (XBLIG) digital experiments. The transition to downloadable games was not an easy decision for a company that, according to founder Camille Guermonprez, loved packaged games. But it was a necessary one.

"I started Arkedo because I wanted to make a game with boxes," he told Joystiq at PAX East. "My first company was a digital game company, in 1999, for mobile games. That was a big company. I raised the money and it was lots of fun."

Arkedo was a reaction to that previous work. "We wanted to be able to buy our game in a garage sale in 20 years, to be able to sell it for scrap, to give it as a gift," he explained. "You know, you can't give a gift with a digital title. Even if it's the same amount of money as a box, you look cheap. It's a shame."

The company made two retail games, both for DS, and both for different publishers: the Breakout-esque Nervous Brickdown for Eidos, and the touch-controlled shooter Big Bang Mini for Southpeak, the latter of which Guermonprez said, "bombed ... But it went out, and that's the good thing." Guermonprez even offered to send special lenticular box covers, free of charge, to anyone in a region where Big Bang Mini wasn't packaged that way – just because he loves the physical artifacts of games.

The $25 game netted Arkedo about $2 per copy, he said. "Fast-forward four years with the Arkedo Series. The experiment was, I pick up two guys on the team, they have 30 days to make a game, and on day 30, the game is off. We sold it for like three bucks, and out of those three bucks, we got two bucks. We got the same amount of money for the Arkedo Series that we did for Nervous Brickdown and Big Bang Mini. And the customer paid ten times less."

That experiment prompted Arkedo to go "full speed for the digital stuff," at which point it started working on Hell Yeah!. And now Guermonprez is moving even further into digital game development, starting up a new collective called Nice Guys. "I bought a house, I'll make game jams there, and we have people from different teams coming together to make one game, stay for 15 days and stuff like that," he said. "The majority of what we do is digital, but we are also keeping the idea of making a little edition where Aurelien the art guy can make little paintings and stuff like that, and we'll sign it, and things like that."

"We want you to have the best of both worlds."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.