Strength In Numbers (S.i.N.) Game Studios wants to bring the video game industry to Michigan.
By creating a cross-genre, multiple-platform game with unique and relatable characters they are hoping to attract players to the characters as much as the game itself. “We want people to identify with them like they do in books,” says founder, Scott Reschke. Tuebor, the sci-fi, dystopian game featuring mutants, crusaders, and robots is the tool Scott is using to build an industry right here. And, after many years, they have secured funding and are well on their way to having a complete product.
The Problem Being Solved
For S.i.N. Studios, their product is less about solving a problem for the consumer and more about filling a need in the region. Other areas have great infrastructures when it comes to the video game industry, here, there are maybe a dozen jobs. “We want to show that this kind of business doesn’t have to be on the West Coast,” says Scott.
For the consumer though, they want to offer a game that is the best of multiple genres into one game. “We are bridging gaps in gaming in ways that haven’t been done before.”
Where the Idea Came From
After owning a cyber cafe and watching countless hours of game play, Scott got an idea of exactly what kinds of games the customers liked and what they really wanted. So, he asked himself how he could capture that. “It was 12 years of market research.”
Opportunities and Worries
Scott says it’s a fast moving industry and he gets nervous when he sees other products that are similar to what they are working on. “Luckily no one has quite hit it yet.” And now that they have funding every day gets them closer to a launch.
And, he adds, it’s exciting because they are using a framework that’s been used before so they know how it works and they don’t have to stumble around figuring out how it works. “We can focus on making a better product.”
“We have a product,” says Scott, “That spans multiples demographics through different uses.” They’re working on developing characters that will appeal to teens, some that reach out to twenty-somethings and others for those in their thirties and older. “It’s a broad market, but it’s not just a scatter shot.”
Scott says simply, “Funding.” He adds, “Trying to get anyone in Michigan to give you money for video games seems absurd. The money is old money and they invest in sectors they are comfortable with. It makes sense, but it was a little frustrating.”
While the customers haven’t surprised Scott, (“Provide a product they enjoy and they’ll buy it”) he found his surprises within the industry, when it came to hiring. “There are no jobs in this area, within this industry, so there is no draw for game developers to be in Michigan.” While universities are adding it to a lot of their programs, those taking them are still young and inexperienced.
While the process was frustrating at first, S.i.N finally raised money from a private investor. They were also able to secure a media incentive before it was closed. The money raised has allowed them to hire more people, giving them a 29 person staff.
In one year, Scott would love to have a product and see revenue. In three years, he would like to grow the company to around 40-50 people, but not much bigger than that.”I like being a small company. It makes it easier to implement quick changes if needed.” Past that, Scott would like to begin to develop into a sort of incubator for people entering the industry out of college. “We want to help them develop their product and get it to market- keep them here instead of letting them run off to California.”
To start a business, says Scott, “It takes a special kind of person and as cliche as it sounds you can’t give up. It’s going to be harder than anything you’ve ever done and people will tell you you can’t do it.” It took three years for Scott to raise money for the studio, and that’s a lot of time to go without pay. He had to take another job, but he kept plugging away got there.
Also, he adds, “Network your brains out. Go to everything.” Entrepreneurs have an infrastructure of people and to access that, you need to be out.