The Treasure Hunters FanClub is on a mission to help bring unique and interesting games into the world. It does this by bringing together a group of experienced members of the games industry (the Fans), scouting for interesting projects from independent developers (the Treasure Hunters) and putting together a deal that includes indie-friendly funding from its members and a publishing deal with indie label Surprise Attack Games.
Money, marketing and mentorship in support of independent creative vision.
A 15 year vet of the games industry, Chris founded indie label Surprise Attack Games, games specialist marketing agency, Double Jump Communications, and now Treasure Hunters FanClub. In his pre-indie life, Chris headed up marketing for THQ in Asia Pacific and worked on the Australian launches of dozens of games including Saints Row, Psychonauts, Street Fighter IV, and Rub Rabbits (look it up).
Felix entered the independent scene in 2012 doing PR and Marketing for small studios and now works as a freelance indie games producer and bizdev specialist, collaborating most recently with studios such as Polytron (FEZ), NightSchool (OXENFREE), and Andrew Shouldice (TUNIC). For Felix, scouting isn’t just looking for games that work now, it’s knowing the industry and understanding what’s coming next.
Fiona is the Finance Manager of Surprise Attack Games and Double Jump Communications and has been with the company since 2011. She has custom built Surprise Attack Games’ financial systems and tools and manages sales and royalty reports for over forty titles across a myriad of stores and platforms.
THFC and Surprise Attack Games are always taking pitches and scouting for games and developers with exciting creative visions. When we find a game that we want to support, we work with the developers to flesh out a potential deal.
Once we have a potential deal on the table, we bring in the members. Our staff put together a brief including all the information that members will need to decide if they’re interested in supporting the game. Briefing materials include a demo build, market analysis, and the deal terms being offered.
After reviewing the brief, members will discuss the game and can decide whether to opt in and support it! If the THFC members commit enough funding, a firm offer can be made to the developers.
THFC coordinates all the paperwork and makes it as painless as possible for all the parties. This includes a publishing agreement between the developers, THFC and Surprise Attack Games, and a separate agreement between THFC and the contributing members.
THFC manages the approval and payment of milestones whilst Surprise Attack Games brings its hands-on approach to publishing, working with the developer on marketing, distribution, promotion and business development. The contributing members get to see and provide feedback on every milestone and are available for additional help if the developers need it.
After launch, Surprise Attack Games collects the revenues and distributes the royalties owing to the developers and THFC. THFC distributes its revenues to the participating members. The developers don’t need to worry about the reporting or admin of paying back the funding to the members as Surprise Attack and THFC take care of that. The members can rest easy knowing they don’t have to chase anyone for payment or reports.
Surprise Attack will continue to publish and promote the game of course, driving revenue for everyone involved and providing regular reports to the contributing members.
By working with several developers and investors, we have developed a model that balances simplicity with flexibility and offers both reduced risk and uncapped upside for the investors whilst also capping the repayments owed by the developers.
It works like this:
A typical Surprise Attack Games publishing deal has a revenue split of 70% to the developer and 30% to Surprise Attack Games.
A typical Treasure Hunters FanClub deal has a revenue split of 70% to the developer, 25% to Surprise Attack Games and 5% to Treasure Hunters FanClub. Surprise Attack Games effectively gives the THFC some of its share, costing the developer nothing.
The developer receives funding from the THFC. When the game launches, the developer repays this funding from its share of the game revenue. 100% of the developer’s share goes to the THFC until the original funding is paid off.
Then, 20% of the developer’s share goes to the THFC until the developer has paid back a total of 2x the funding amount.
Once THFC has recouped 2x, contributing THFC members still get a long term share of the royalties (a Financier's royalty) at the expense of Surprise Attack Games, not the developer.
This means that the funding has a maximum cost to the developer of 2x and there's no long term royalty share given up to the THFC. If a game is a hit, the developers still get the lion's share of the revenue. THFC members recoup fast so that the game doesn't have to be a huge hit to get their money back, and if the game does well, there is the potential for members to do much better than 2x.
Making games costs money. For developers, securing individual investment doesn't necessarily guarantee development or marketing support. For investors, being the sole source of funding means taking on all the risk on the project and limits the number of projects an investor can be involved in.
By bringing together a curated group of members that are vetted, interested and passionate about independent development, and working side by side with Surprise Attack publishing, THFC provides more than just funding. Members provide mentoring and Surprise Attack Games provides full publishing support. THFC is dedicated to the concept of the whole package: money, mentorship and marketing.
It’s tough out there for indie games. The market is full of great games launching every day, and reaching an audience can prove difficult without dedicated support. Through its investment of time, money and expertise, Surprise Attack will help games to make it to market and cut through, providing support for the developer throughout the development and beyond. For the contributing members, having Surprise Attack publish the game and distribute the revenues and sales reports helps to reduce a lot of the inherent risks in investing in indie games.
Surprise Attack Games is a small, hard-working publisher located in Melbourne Australia. Operating since 2013, they have published games including Orwell, Hacknet, Screencheat, and Vertiginous Golf. Upcoming projects include Blind and the Invisible Hand. Surprise Attack is staffed by a team of experienced, dedicated professionals seeking to help great games reach their audience.
Joining the THFC is by invitation only and it is a tightly curated group of experienced members of the games industry that are able to make educated decisions about any investment opportunities presented to them, provide guidance and mentorship to the developers we sign and are passionate about helping independent creators to succeed.
If you are interested in joining, the first step is for us to get to know you a bit better. You can contact us here to start a conversation.
Surprise Attack and THFC are focused on games that fit the description of unusual and surprising. They should be mechanically interesting, and at the moment we’re particularly interested in narrative-driven projects. We want games that are taking creative risks and breaking new ground, with the potential to break out and succeed commercially.
If your game fits with the sort of thing we’re looking for, you can contact us here to start a conversation.
What stage of development do games need to be at to be considered?
Before a game can be pitched to the members, it needs to have a playable build, design document and proposed budget and production plan. You should be 18 months or less from shipping by the time we sign the agreement.
If you believe you are a good fit for us but aren’t quite ready yet, we still encourage you to start a conversation with us so we can have an initial chat. If your game sounds interesting we can put it on our watchlist and come back to talk more when it’s further along.
We cater deals according to the needs and scope of each project but a typical revenue split is 70% to the developers, 25% to Surprise Attack Games and 5% to the THFC. The exact split between Surprise Attack Games and the THFC depends on the scale of investment involved.
Do you allow developers to run crowd- funding campaigns or have other sources of funding?
Signing with the THFC doesn’t exclude a developer from running a crowd-funding campaign to raise additional funds or to seek funding from other sources. However, any additional funding or crowd-funding campaign is dependent on agreement with the THFC and is handled on a case by case basis.