Exclusive Interview: Josh Fairhurst Talks Limited Run Games

There is no denying that video games are currently heading down a road to a digital future. More games than ever before are seeing digital-only launches. This is largely a positive, as it does allow more titles to see release, but it’s increasingly worrying for collectors and gaming historians. Especially when games get delisted on digital storefronts so often.

To help preserve games, Josh Fairhurst of Mighty Rabbit Studios decided to start publishing physical copies of games in limited quantities. The first release that the appropriately named Limited Run Games will publish is Breach & Clear, a military strategy game for PlayStation Vita. In order to find out more about both Limited Run Games, their goals, and what Breach & Clear has to offer, we talked to Josh Fairhurst himself.

Check it out below, and enjoy!

We Got This Covered: What inspired you to get into publishing games? Was it to see your own games in a physical form, or is there a greater reason?

Josh Fairhurst: I’ve been a game collector for the nearly three decades (I keep most of my collection at our office – there’s a gallery here for those interested). Physical games are important to me. Nothing beats the feeling of coming home from the store, tearing open a new game, and popping it in for the first time. It scares me that an all-digital future is on the horizon. I hate it. I’ll begrudgingly accept it because I love playing games, but I’ll do whatever I can to fight back. Limited Run Games is my effort at fighting back.

I’m also not going to lie; having my own games on physical media has been really surreal. That’s been a goal of mine since I was a kid. If I time-travelled to the early 90s and told young me that I had released my own game on an actual cartridge – young me probably would have flipped out in excitement. As a developer, there is also a bonus inherent in having your games exist as in the physical realm – your games now have lasting power and permanence that digital formats won’t provide. Gamers now have a means to reliably own and treasure your game for decades, trade it to others, or acquire it long after the digital means have been forgotten or shut down. Physical mediums allow my game to have a legacy. If these games were just digital releases, I’m sure they would be forgotten far faster than they will be now.

I love the idea that people will have access to my game fifty years from now, or even a hundred years from now! I’m not vain enough to think they’ll care about it, but hey, it’ll be there for them to play and that’s pretty cool.

WGTC: The first release will be Mighty Rabbit’s Breach & Clear. Have you thought about what the second game will be?

JF: By the nature of Limited Run Games being a part of Mighty Rabbit Studios, our second release is Saturday Morning RPG for the PlayStation 4. Our third game is a game that a lot of people will be excited about and is from a very popular developer. Ultimately, they get to decide when their physical release is announced, so I’m not at liberty to hype it up yet. It’s a killer game, though!

WGTC: The current plan is to print 1,500 copies of Breach & Clear and have no reprints. For future releases could that number change, depending on if demand was there?

JF: Absolutely, one hundred percent yes. Breach & Clear is getting a low print run because it is a test for the idea of Limited Run Games. We know Breach & Clear isn’t super exciting and we know it isn’t going to appeal to everyone. To make sure we didn’t get stuck with piles and piles of unsold games, we made the print run low enough to make a full sell-out attainable. We need that sell-out to happen so we can prove to other developers that there is demand for physical indie games. We also need it to show that we can be trusted to take their game from digital to physical in a satisfactory way and deliver on all aspects of our proposed business.

WGTC: How much more difficult has it been publishing physical copies of games, rather than on digital storefronts? Any unexpected red tape?

JF: It’s significantly more work since you need to understand a lot of supply chain terminology and need to be able to properly navigate a few different sites that aren’t exactly built for people whose full-time job doesn’t revolve around physical games. There’s a ton of different people who have to get involved to make a physical release happen and you need to be in constant communication with them. Once you’ve done your first release, the workload goes down since you understand the process – but anyone approaching his or her first physical release will end up devoting a significant amount of time to it. It’s at least a full month’s worth of full-time work!

We set up Limited Run Games with the intention of simplifying this process for other developers. We do all the work for them and finance their print runs. In exchange for our work we only end up asking for the same cut that a digital distribution service would take. We want to make it an easy choice for developers to say yes to us. We’ll do all the heavy lifting for them and assume all the risk. In the end, they get a cool physical release of their game and a ton of extra income that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.

As for red tape, surprisingly there wasn’t much. Sony had just recently helped Brian Provinciano do a physical release of his game, Retro City Rampage. We basically followed the trail he blazed. I think outside of Sony, over at Microsoft and Nintendo, there is probably a ton of red tape. We hope to break past that tape when we get more established.