PAX ’13 – Heroki Demo Impressions


At this year’s PAX 2013, SEGA is hitting it off with another indie developer under the SEGA Alliance brand. This time lending a hand to a developer from the Netherlands, Picomy Games, to release their action game Heroki to iDevices. I was joined in by two of the developers, Michael Balm and Bobby Bouman, as well as SEGA Alliance producer John Eternal as they showcased a build running on an iPad to help explain the game mechanics and provide some insight on the development on the game.

Owlchemy Labs: Jack Lumber “hasn’t been financially successful”

In August of 2012, SEGA announced a new publishing initiative dubbed “SEGA Alliance”. SEGA Alliance’s aim was to “focus on publishing mobile games made by independent developers” and to “provide participating developers with comprehensive marketing and production support as well as creative consultation”. The first of these SEGA Alliance titles was Owlchemy Labs Jack Lumber, an iOS title in the vein of Fruit Ninja that, in my opinion, went well beyond the Fruit Ninja formula and was quite an excellent game. Unfortunately, according to Owlchemy Labs founder Alex Schwartz in an interview with Indie Static, “working with publishers has been a big experiment and so far it hasn’t been financially successful for Owlchemy.” Schwartz detailed just how much of the SEGA Alliance offerings Owlchemy Labs took advantage of, as well as talked about how much freedom indie publishers have in a SEGA Alliance deal.

Review: Jack Lumber (iOS)

Announced and released on the same day, Jack Lumber, was both a surprise and a curiosity. As the first SEGA Alliance title, Jack Lumber was developed by an external independent developer by the name of Owlchemy Labs and published by SEGA. Per the SEGA Alliance description, SEGA also provided marketing and production support as well as creative consultation. The end result is a fun and unique game that definitely has that SEGA spirit, despite being developed by an external developer.

Just what is SEGA Alliance?

SEGA Vintage Collection, SEGA Heritage and now SEGA Alliance. Seems SEGA is on a roll with these new defining terms for titles, and frankly I love it. Maybe we no longer have the many development teams as we did in the Dreamcast days, but it’s refreshing to have a bit more order in the titles being released. What is Alex Kidd & Co.? Why it’s a Vintage Collection release. What is NiGHTS HD rerelease? A SEGA Heritage release. And so, when we get to the recently released Jack Lumber, what is it? A SEGA Alliance release. Straight from SEGA’s mouth (also known as a press release):

SEGA® of America, Inc. and SEGA® Europe, Ltd. today announced the formation of a new publishing initiative, SEGA Alliance. The SEGA Alliance will focus on publishing mobile games made by independent developers. The SEGA Alliance will provide participating developers with comprehensive marketing and production support as well as creative consultation.

It’s an intriguing initiative to be sure, and perhaps it will satisfy SEGA fans who get up in arms about distinctions. I won’t even get into the many “Bayonetta is/isn’t a SEGA character” fights I’ve been in. Now if somebody says “Is Jack Lumber a SEGA character?” you can reply “He’s a character from Owlchemy Labs whose game was published by SEGA. He’s a SEGA Alliance character.”

SEGA did clarify for us, via twitter, that Hell Yeah! is NOT a SEGA Alliance title. So keep up the “Is Ash a SEGA character” arguments.