Unless E3 has completely fried your brain and made you lose all sense of time, you may remember back on Friday that Super Rare Games — one of the major publishers that help indie studios release physical editions of their games — announced "Super Rare Shorts", which was their plan to fund physical-only indie releases. (We spoke to them about it, if you want a little more context.)
Now, while physical-only releases may be good news to collectors, it was worrying news for others, who had concerns about availability, short pre-order windows, and generally just being excluded from playing certain games. Friend of the site (and occasional NL contributor) Chris Scullion wrote about the "worrying precedent" that physical-only releases might set, also citing Devolver's similar plan for Demon Throttle:
"I have a few concerns about this.
The first is obvious: with limited pre-order windows – four months in Devolver’s case and only 30 days in Super Rare’s – players are essentially being asked to make these purchases entirely in good faith, without any idea of what they’re actually buying.
What’s more, there’s no scope for due diligence. If you’re the type who prefers to wait for reviews, forget it. By the time these games are produced and arrive in players’ hands, the pre-order window will be long gone.
As such, if any of these games turn out to be mini masterpieces, there will be no way for players to spread the word and tell others to check the game out, because there would no longer be any way to purchase it."
It seems that Scullion's piece — and other criticism on social media — struck a chord with gamers, as Super Rare Games took the weekend to re-examine their plan. "We could stubbornly defend ourselves," they said in a statement on Twitter, "but ultimately — the criticism is 100% right."
In the statement, they describe a couple of changes that they plan to make to Super Rare Shorts, which can be summarised as follows:
- The games will no longer be exclusive to the physical edition, and will go on sale on itch.io 6 months after the physical release
- The pre-order window has been expanded from 4 weeks to 6 weeks
Super Rare Games also took the time to answer some frequently asked questions following the announcement:
- The digital versions on itch.io will be DRM-free
- Super Rare will not own the IP rights, so developers are free to make sequels or spin-offs
- The quantities are unlimited; they will print as many copies as there are orders
- There will be "plenty of advance notice" when a Shorts game is going on sale
- There will be trailers, information, livestreams, and Q&As that will coincide with the pre-order window, and reviewers will be sent early copies
- The name "Shorts" does not necessarily mean that the games are short — they're just more experimental
- All Shorts will come content complete, and there will never be updates or DLC (although bug patches may still be necessary)
- There will be 3-4 Shorts a year
"Hopefully this addresses the major points being made — and again, we're really sorry for not having addressed this before we revealed Super Rare Shorts," reads the statement.
So, what are your thoughts? Are you happy to see Super Rare listening to fan feedback, or did you think physical-only games were a great idea? Let us know in the comments!