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Yooka-Laylee studio announces Playtonic Friends publishing label

Playtonic Games, the studio behind Kickstarter success Yooka-Laylee, has announced a new publishing label. It’s called Playtonic Friends, and three studios have already signed up their next projects.

At the same time, and after a quiet 2020, Playtonic is reassuring fans it remains committed to its own game development. Playtonic now has “multiple” games featuring Yooka-Laylee characters in the works and is staffing up further to expand its production capabilities.

We’ve spoken to Playtonic boss Gavin Price about these new announcements and its upcoming games – you can read all that below. Before then, here’s a video featuring Price, composer Grant Kirkhope and character art director Steve Mayles larking about with today’s headlines:

The first three developers signed up to the Playtonic Friends label include Awe Interactive, creator of rhythm-action roguelike BPM: Bullets Per Minute, Slime-san studio Fabraz and Ok Golf maker okidokico. Details of their upcoming projects are being kept under wraps.

Similarly, details of the next couple of games featuring Yooka-Laylee characters are also being kept quiet – though Playtonic is confident they will please, and hopefully surprise, the studio’s fans.

“About a year ago now, on the back of launching Impossible Lair, there was an oppurtunity to do some reflection and say ‘Hey, how’re our games going, how’re our processes going, what do want to be doing with our own IP?’ But also as a business as well to think, what else can we be doing?” Price tells me via video call this week.

“We like seeing great games come out and achieve success. We don’t like seeing great games come out and not get the attention or love, or the commercial success they deserve. Sadly that’s too common a story in the industry.

“We thought, well, if we can help great games come out and get attention and have that better chance, having given developers this long-term sustainability, everyone wins… We’ve always had people coming to us for advice, but one of the advantages of being old is having all this experience. We’ve had experience of being first-party, being independent, of doing crowd-funding. We have a lot to share.”

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The pitch for Playtonic Friends is simple – you’ll get publishing advice and knowhow from a team that is still a developer at heart, rather than another company which might exist only as a publisher. And – getting back to Playtonic’s own games – studios which work with Playtonic under its Friends label may help create new Yooka-Laylee games in the future.

“There’s no barrier to the types of games and people we went to help,” Price says. “It would be arbitrary to say ‘we can’t help you because your game doesn’t have a million different collectibles’. There’s companies we’ll be working with and games we’ll be announcing which will make people go, ‘woah, how did we get from a chameleon and a bat to this over here?’

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Playtonic boss Gavin Price.

“But as we’re going to be working with great partners through the Playtonic Friends label, we may find some great people who can help us with content in the Yooka-Laylee universe as well.”

While Price is helping announce Playtonic Friends, the studio is keen to make clear that the venture will be handled by a different set of staff – and that it is also now looking to hire even more people for its core focus on development. Playtonic Friends, meanwhile, will be handled by long-time Playtonic executive producer Andy Wilson – who Gavin calls “Mr Spreadsheet” – and new biz dev boss Steph Darrah.

“We’re actually going to be increasing our development size, purely focused on achieving new games in the Yooka-Laylee universe,” Price reassures, saying Playtonic’s focus remains game development. “For the first time in history there’s multiple things on the go.”

What things, I ask? Fans were naturally intrigued by the studio’s sixth birthday tease earlier this week, with Yooka and Laylee still front and centre. And then there’s that jokey nod at a Capital Bee game in the video above…

“There’s always going to some things which I’d say are a natural crowd-pleaser for our fans, but it’d also be great to start surprising them with something unexpected as well,” Price hinted.

“One game we’re thinking about doing we’re like, wow, this game would be great to have announced two years before launch and within that two years there’s actually scope to keep doing lots and lots of cool surprises within those two years. The fact it might be known about for a while could be right.

“And then there’s another game which is just like ‘wow, it would be great if we could just say nothing, and then one day push a launch button… tada!’ It could totally spectacularly backfire, you just never know.”

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