Rock It Games debuts as publisher of retro indie games


Rock It Games has debuted as a new publisher of retro-focused indie games.

The company’s first two games include Space Invaders Deck Commander — The Board Game (officially licensed by Taito Corp. and developed by Sickhead Games), a brand-new digital board game based on one of the best-selling games of all time with a new genre for fans to enjoy and be challenged by.

The company is also making the indie classic Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion: HD Renovation (developed by Albino Moose Games), a physical release for the Nintendo Switch system and PlayStation5 with a regular edition and a collector’s edition. Both games are scheduled for release by summer 2024.

Long Beach, California-based Rock It Games was founded by a passionate team of industry veterans and lifelong gamers, Rock It Games has big ambitions and is aiming to release up to 15 physical games this year and next, along with additional digital releases to serve the interests of a global gaming community.

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Rock It Games wants to bring indie and retro games to players by partnering with independent developers and IP holders to explore development and publishing opportunities to successfully bring titles to market and maximize the value of a game’s lifecycle. The company is not pursuing mobile games at the moment. It is focused on PC and console titles.

Michael Devine is CEO of Rock It Games.

With this elevated publishing experience for creatives in the gaming industry, the goal is to allow developers greater agency over the titles they create with a more holistic process from beginning to end of the development cycle, and through launch and beyond. This includes providing developers with input in more areas such as marketing, public relations, social media, and more.

Founder Michael Devine, CEO, has 35 years of veteran experience in the video game industry. He was previously running business development at Ziggurat interactive. He said his devotion to uplifting lesser-known and underappreciated gems in the gaming space has permeated nearly every career decision he has made, and his primary job is finding amazing people to work with to bring his vision to life.

He has worked in sales, marketing, and as a business development executive at 3DO, TDK, Tommo, and Ziggurat Interactive where he launched or relaunched over 250 games including Heroes of Might andMagic 2-4, Army Men, Robotech, Bloodrayne, and Bubsy.

Devine considered retiring but opted to go back into publishing games again because he love curating games. The focus will be on retro and indie titles, as that has been his background from the 1980s onward. Having watched it done before, he said, “I really felt there was a better way. And that was to be very, very involved with the developer and their games and understanding them and understanding their audiences, and providing the things that they’re not the best at.”

Those things include the publishing, the platform relations, the PR, the marketing, the social media — all based on a real understanding of what the game meant to them, and what it meant to consumers, he said.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to create a gamer-centric publisher like Rock It Games,” said Devine. “We are dedicated to providing a platform for indie and retro game developers to showcase their creative genius to players who love the nostalgia of retro gaming and freedom of creatives that only indies provide.”

The company has five people, and it has bootstrapped itself as a startup. The company is aiming to be cash positive by the end of this year. The idea for the company started in June 2023.

Seasoned veteran Douglas Bogart has joined as a founding member and will work on games curation at Rock It Games given his passion for games preservation and proven track record of signing highly desired game partnerships. He is well respected by indie developers and has worked in the video game industry for over a decade, with a humble beginning working in testing and tech support, to co-founding one of the most premiere physical publishers, Limited Run Games.

Rock It Games will be in attendance at GDC 2024, and private media interviews and game demos for both Space Invaders Deck Commander – The Board Game and Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion: HD Renovation will be available. The company invites game developers, industry partners, and gamers alike to join them on this exciting journey.

Space Invaders Deck Commander is a digital board game that Devine watched for about 18 months before jumping on an opportunity to publish it.

“It turned out to be super fresh in terms of the way they approached it with a lot of graphics, a lot of animation, a lot of special effects,” Devine said. “It puts you not just on a board but in the game.”

The company has a direct-to-consumer component on the physical side of games. The Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion: HD Renovation title is being built by a small indie studio. It had 25,000 positive reviews on Steam, which was a lot for an indie game.

“The reality is that we know that physical is a declining market,” he said. “We know that the shelf space at big box retailer is going down dramatically. But the retro and indie fans want a permanent relationship with those games. And when they only get digital licenses, the reality is that at some point, they can lose that ability to play that game.”

The company bootstrapped itself, and it has an unannounced game that it will reveal at the Game Developers Conference.

The team has just five people and they’re all lifelong gamers.

“We really decided that we would select projects that we really felt we could do the best with,” he said.

Those games are the ones “we could communicate to our audiences. And also ones with the right scale of services and costs that would allow us to be successful with a lower tier of sales.”

“A lot of times, indie and retro games are an afterthought. And I really wanted to do something where it was really our primary business,” he said. “We’ve been working on it behind the scenes now for the last eight months. And it’s been kind of amazing.”

The company already has 15 games under contract, including 10 for this year and more in 2025.

“We keep on adding new projects,” Devine said. “I also decided to come up with partners to do the things I couldn’t do myself. We all are gamers, we all are nerds. We don’t have a business plan that says this is how we get to $10 million, or this is how we get to $20 million. Our business plan says, ‘We want to be successful with every product. We want to grow over time. But we don’t want to release three or four titles a month. That’s impersonal.’”

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