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Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson on becoming the “Sub Pop for games”

“Doom was made by six dudes in six months. And that’s where we are again — it’s come full circle.” That’s Mike Wilson, co-founder of Devolver Digital, a game publisher that’s made a name for itself by finding the smallest and weirdest, yet most promising indie games out there.

Whatever they’re doing, it works: Its list of successes is an indie gaming hit parade. Hotline Miami, Broforce, Hatoful Boyfriend, the new Shadow Warrior and dozens more.

“Somebody once called us the Sub Pop for games,” he said, after noticing I was wearing a shirt from the famous Seattle label. “That’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” He declined to give the epithet any credit, but I’m using it in the headline just the same.

It’s not an accelerator, but it’s not just a publicity agency, either. Like a good label, it’s a facilitator. The best and worst thing about independent games seems to be that the teams have often never worked together before, much less shipped a game on their own.

“When we started making this game, we were like, ‘Fuck! We could really ruin this for ourselves!’” said Pixel Titans’ Thom Blunt, who’s working on a throwback first-person shooter called Strafe, soon to be published by Devolver. “We said, okay, after two months we’ll go to Kickstarter… 10 months later, I’d grown the team to six people, we were working full time on the game, and no one was getting paid.”

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