Gamelab 2020 Live is over but as an official media partner, we were fortunate enough to catch up with some of the most prominent speakers post-event. One of them was none other than Thatgamecompany president & creative director Jenova Chen, who had a lot to touch on regarding Sky: Children of the Light and the studio's philosophy.
Sky is a small mobile game that is capable of doing some great things. It's 20+ million installs allow the MMO to create interesting community trends and connections, to the point of becoming a beautiful charity platform.
"Sky is a game where the core of the gameplay and the community is about giving and generosity, and a lot of the games level up from gifting each other", explains Chen in the video when asked about their COVID-19 fundraising. The studio took Earth Day in April as inspiration for their first green-caped charity event, which ended up with 42.000 trees planted in the real world. "During that period, COVID broke out, and players were like, 'hey, why are you doing this for the trees? We've got to do something about COVID!' (laughs)". With that mission in mind, Chen recalls, "players and also the employees from the company were saying 'we can't be tone-deaf, we have to do something for the real world, with the real event. So we rushed out a simple flower which you could wear on your head if you donated during the period of COVID drive". "By the end of the drive we had raised over a million dollars", the president of the studio celebrates, which was then donated to Doctors Without Borders. "I think all of us, developers and players in the community, are very proud".
Later in the video, Chen talks about how they go designing reflective experiences with Thatgamecompany's trademark style and purpose. "We like to push new grounds", he says, and as an example "Journey is the first social-emotional game". The creative director also talks in-depth about how to create human connections in their delicate ways, including a few Pixar and Disney references.
With Sky, as announced earlier this year, "Nintendo Switch is the first console" which will get a port later in 2020, but according to Chen "we do have plans to bring it to more platforms, PC and other consoles, in the future".
During the interview we also chat about TGC's most acclaimed game to date, Journey, and what it meant to the studio to open it up to PC via Epic Games and now Steam as well. However, don't expect to see Journey on Xbox or Nintendo Switch, as it "is pretty much done" on PlayStation, iOS, and PC, as "Sony is OK with PC and mobile".
Finally, at Thatgamecompany "we have a new game that we're working on, but it's going to take a while and Sky is a live operation game (we've been live for a year and we have plans for another two more years, so there's a lot of content we have to build)".
What do you think Thatgamecompany's next game will be like?
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