He expects business and marketing may be the biggest hurdles for many of these applicants. Most independent game designers already have the technical abilities and creative vision required for success, but the abilities to conceive and code a game need to be supplemented with the solid business practices and marketing strategies required to create successful and sustainable companies. "That's something we absolutely feel we can help game developers out with," says Juan.
Given the session length, Joystick Labs plans to focus on platforms that allow for meaningful achievements within just a few months. That means focusing on mobile platforms like the iPad, iPhone or Android, or on more casual environments like Facebook or Xbox Live Arcade. "It's quite possible to make something pretty cool for the mobile platform, as well as Facebook in that period of time," explains Juan. The company will even consider taking on middleware or social applications that show particular promise but aren't necessarily entertainment focused. Thankfully, the support doesn't stop at the end of the 12-week program. Joystick Labs' commitment to its graduates' success extends far beyond graduation, which makes sense if Joystick Labs' only potential for profit here is in the continued success of its graduates.
Once the developers are ready to release a project, Joystick Labs is prepared to help with distribution. Applications developed for the iOS will find their way to the market via the app store. "If we get PC-based games that are going to be developed natively for that platform," says Juan, "then we'll look at distribution networks such as Steam and the others that really allow them have the broadest reach in terms of getting the games out there to the market but without going through the traditional retail channel." The emphasis here is clearly on distributing games online and avoiding the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience.
Joystick Labs' mission is a reaction against the excessive investments of time and money required of most publishers. "That's somewhat of a risky model," says Juan. He's reassured by the encouraging rates of growth for "cheaper, smaller, more social and more casual" games, particularly those of Zynga on Facebook. "We're a bit more focused on those," he says, "because that's where we see the biggest growth opportunities as well as a development scope that is in line with what you can do with a small team in a matter of months."
The new company is currently planning to support between four to six teams depending on the size and scope of the individual projects. Applications are currently being accepted for the first session starting in September. You can submit your application and follow the progress of the program at joysticklabs.com.