What inspired you to create Jump?
What inspired you to create Jump?
The inspiration for Jump came from the fact that we were game developers when we founded the company.
And we saw 2 major problems in the industry as game developers that were starting to bubble up, and now are significant problems.
The first problem was the sheer number of gaming devices that you can now release content on, and the business models are always shifting on those, so it's hard as a game developer to keep up with the changing industry, particularly in the early 2010's.
And the much bigger problem, problem two, is discoverability for game developers and gamers. As of now, there's an average of 600 games that launch every day across devices. As a small game developer trying to figure out how to reach ANY audience, let alone your target audience, it becomes more and more difficult, and continues to get even more difficult.
So with that in mind, we created Jump as a solution for both multi-platform releases and to solve discovery for both gamers and game developers.
What are some things that people might not know about the indie gaming world?
Great question. I think it's that really anybody can create a game, it doesn't matter what your background is.
You can be an engineer, an artist, a designer, or somebody who's never worked in games before. The tools are now so intuitive that pretty much anyone can create a game. But what that's caused is a massive influx of new content into the world, and so that's where the problem of discovery has bubbled up. And a lot of indie developers start it as a part-time job in night times or weekends, and that means they don't have any kind of marketing dollars to be able to compete with the major titles that spend significant advertising dollars.
A lot of indie games are labors of love that never really make money. But that doesn't mean they are insignificant or bad games. They are often incredible titles that go unrecognized or don't get the notoriety they deserve.
I know that title discovery is something that's very important to you. How do you personally discover titles?
You mean beyond Jump, haha?
I have recently started watching a few different channels on Twitch, because I follow people who play games in the genres that I like, like first-person shooters and RPGs. Chocotaco is one, ZFG1 is another.
But beyond that, just like anybody else does, through press releases and marketing efforts.
And once a year, there's Indiecade, a festival which is held in Los Angeles and that's usually how I discover the next indie games that I both want to play and want to bring on Jump.
What are some of your favorite games that you've seen recently or are anticipating for 2019?
I think the most interesting one that just released this week is called Apex Legends. It's the same guys who built Titanfall back in the day, and it's a battle royale type game, which I'm pretty into.
Probably the most anticipated indie game for me is In the Valley of Gods. It's made by the same people that made Firewatch. They are incredible storytellers. Firewatch is one of my favorite games, it's only 3-4 hours long, but it's an amazing interactive story. It's one of the first walking simulator. I don't know if In the Valley of Gods will be quite the same, but it's a beautiful way to ingest the story through interaction.
And supposedly there's a Gears of War game coming out this year - Gears of War 5. I played a lot of that as a kid, so I'll have to play it again for the nostalgia factor!
And Spelunky 2 is one of my favorite indie platformers of all time, and 7 years later, it's getting a sequel. It's a procedural permadeath platformer.
What about of all time?
Well, definitely my favorite game of all time is Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I just beat that on my stream a few days ago, and the first real 3D RPG beyond SuperMario 64. It was like 1998, and such a good game for the time. It still holds up!
The newest Legend of Zelda is also really good, it's called the Breath of Time.
Growing up, I was also really into rhythm games, so basically all of the Guitar Heroes.
Favorite indie game of all time would probably have to be Firewatch. It's really, really good.
What aspects along the way of this journey are you the most proud of?
There's 2 good answers to this for me.
The first is that we were able to create this entire platform out of nothing. Regardless of what happens with it, we started out as indie game developers fresh out of college, and now we've built a platform that services thousands of gamers with really unique technology, and it's ahead of its time as a platform. So I'm really proud of the fact that we built it from scratch, saw it through to fruition and beyond.
Second thing I'm most proud of is the team we've put together. A bunch of gaming industry veterans that have a decade + of experience more than me in many instances, and the fact that they wanted to work with me on this project, and now I get to work with them on this and anything else we do in the future, is very humbling for me.
Third, the experience of building a startup from scratch is invaluable for the rest of my career.
What do you wish more people understood about a platform like Jump?
So for gamers, there's an amazing wealth of indie games out there just waiting to be discovered. And we're a great opportunity for you to discover them for the cost of one discounted indie game per month ($5.00).
For the VCs that we pitch, it's really the nuances of the industry. By which I mean we see major companies like Amazon, Google, Apple and others all announcing they are doing some kind of game streaming. And that tends to scare investors that we're talking to. But what I wish they understood is that those companies are going after those very high-end, triple AAA flashy section of the market. Game streaming is very technically complicated and expensive, so these major companies are looking to offset that cost by providing triple AAA games that typically cost $60 per game. With Jump, what we've built is technology that works today - all these other companies have announced services, but they aren't launching until next year at the soonest, because the tech is not ready - and we have over 100 games on our platform. We provide near-instant access to all the games on the platform - no latency, no quality issues. We are delivering a better experience that what streaming would deliver. And we're able to do it at orders of magnitude less cost. So what this enables us to do this year is actually launch a completely FREE tier, it's ad-supported for Jump, akin to Spotify. This free tier will give us something that these major companies could never compete with, and it allows gamers to try our service for literally nothing, so that we can establish our position in the market with our technology before these companies even start.
And for game developers, really what we want them to understand is that there are more ways to monetize your game than heavily discounting it, putting it in HumbleBundles, or Steam Sales. Subscription services like ours can provide revenue simply based on playtime. So you can expose your game to way more people, and still monetize them, even if your game is several years old. It's a new revenue generation opportunity for them, a new piece of the life cycle for a game.
We've had it happen a few times where fans discover games and really get into them thanks to Jump. Pony Island is one of those games. It was reasonably popular, sold 200,000 copies or so, but not a whole lot of people knew it existed, and thanks to Jump a lot of people have fallen in love with it because it's really twisted and dark and weird. So they started contacting the dev who's on our Discord server.
How important is design to you and what you do?
User experience and design is really everything for a platform that focuses on discovery.
We need to make it as easy as possible for our users to find what they are looking for, and we have plenty more features for curation on the way.
For curation right now, we list out sets of genres, but we will be adding a recommendation engine. We'll also add things like influencer favorite games, and if you follow that influencer, you can see what they like on Jump. So there will be the logical element of the recommendation element, but also the human element of recommendation.
Designing easy ways to track that is important.
Did you play Netflix's Bandersnatch and if so, what did you think of it?
It's on my watch list! I haven't made it there yet. So TBD.
How can people learn more about Jump?