In 1998 a group of game industry execs gathered a number of established developers to band together to form the original Gathering of Developers (G.O.D.). The original concept was born from the belief that the developers were the most important aspect in the game creation process and not the publisher. With a distribution deal with Take Two Interactive in place, G.O.D. released a number of titles over the next several years, some of which were excellent (Stronghold, Max Payne, Serious Sam) and one or two that perhaps shouldn't have been made in the first place (KISS: Psycho Circus, the Blair Witch Project games). G.O.D. also had a tendency to go more than a little nuts in the marketing department with things like the G.O.D. Tent at E3 with schoolgirl booth babes and loud rock bands. In the end, Take Two bought out all of G.O.D. and eventually made the brand disappear into their own 2K Games label, making it just another cookie cutter game publishing brand.
However a little over a year ago, a number of the same execs from the original Gathering of Developers announced that they were back with Gamecock Media Group. Like the original G.O.D., Gamecock's main mission was to make the games and the developers the main focus of their efforts. Based in Austin, Texas and funded by a still anonymous group of investors, the company had some highs and lows in its first year. While not an official participant at E3 last July, Gamecock hosted their first EIEIO press event at a Santa Monica hotel where they showed off a number of their upcoming game titles and staged a "funeral" on the Santa Monica beach to lament the passing of the old version of E3. However some people didn't appreciate a Gamecock mascot getting on stage at December's Spike TV Video Game Awards. He interrupted 2K Games' Ken Levine from accepting his award for Best Game of the Year for BioShock (Gamecock quickly apologized for the incident). However, it was clear that the free spirit of the original G.O.D was still with the new Gamecock.
As far as games, the publisher only released two titles in 2007, both in October. One was Dementium: The Ward, an M-rated Nintendo DS first person survival horror game from new game developer Renegade Kid (like Gamecock, Renegade Kid is based in Austin). The game got mostly solid reviews and according to what Gamecock CEO Mike Wilson told FiringSquad, the game also had solid sales despite some retail outlets like Toys R' Us and Wal-Mart refusing to sell the game because they have made a decision not to stock M-rated DS titles. Wilson told FiringSquad that Dementium: The Ward will be released in Japan next month and in Europe later in the year. Wilson also told us that those versions will have a better save system than the original release (a big issue with US reviews of the original version of the title) and that a new version with that improved save system will be released in the US that will replace the older copies on store shelves.
And then there's Fury. This fantasy-themed PvP-oriented MMO was well into its development when Gamecock signed on to be the US publisher for the title, which was developed by Australian-based developer Auran. However despite a massive marketing campaign, mostly orchestrated by Auran themselves (including a beta tournament with lots of prizes from various sponsors before its release), Fury was a massive economic and critical failure when it was officially launched in late October (Wilson told FiringSquad that they had recommended to Auran to wait another six months to get more development time into the game but that recommendation was overruled). Auran went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and laid off most of its team members. Fury itself switched to a free-to-play model and is currently still online, but with the switch to a free-to-play model it's likely Gamecock won't see any more money from that title.
2008, however, already looks much better in terms of Gamecock's line-up. Starting last week with the release of the DS version of the action-adventure game Insecticide, the company plans to release eight titles in the next 12 months or so, some from brand new developers and others from established teams. There's even a couple of other games due out late in 2009 from the publisher that could be even more exciting (more on that later). Earlier this month in Gamecock's hometown of Austin, the day before the South by Southwest Festival started, the company held its second EIEIO press event where we got to see and in some cases play most of Gamecock's announced game line-up at the Stubb's barbecue bar and restaurant. While the weather that day in Austin wasn't all that great (actually it was cold, windy, and had periods of pouring rain) that didn't stop the assembled press from enjoying not just the press event but the after event featuring Austin rollergirls, live music, and a rooster-head version of a mechanical bull.
So what did we see at the 2008 EIEIO event, besides the rollergirls and the mechanical rooster? Quite a lot. Here is the skinny on what was shown and talked about during Gamecock's 2008 party.