Short N Sweet looks to open up a new sector in console gaming

Colin Campbell, Friday, April 28th, 2023 9:26 am

Short games are ubiquitous in the realms of PC and browser gaming, often getting lost in the blizzard of products available. On consoles, where access to publishing is tougher, they are far less common.

Mostly, this is to do with the console business model, which favors big productions that offer consumers multiple hours of gameplay. The console model is less price-flexible than the PC market – as demonstrated by the comparable depth and frequency of cut-price sales offers. 

But it doesn’t have to be so, at least according to Paulo Luis Santos, founder and head of Brazil-based Flux Games, which is touting a new label called Short N Sweet. Santos says shorter and cheaper games will satisfy consumer demand for games that can be completed in a few hours, and will create opportunities for small developers to get onto the console ladder. 

“I’m not saying [short console games] don’t exist. But I want console players to be able to satisfy a desire to play something nice, high quality, that fills an afternoon, or can be completed over a weekend,” he says. 

“PC gamers are more accustomed to this kind of game. The way we see it, console players are still getting to learn about that option but it’s been a slower process.”

Santos says that development hubs like Brazil are only now appearing on the radar of companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. He cites the difficulty of obtaining console dev kits. “We’ve had to go and fetch them and bring them back. We believe that bringing these shorter games to consoles is a key part of our strategy to progress Brazilian game development.”

Four games

Short N Sweet is talking to the big console companies about four games, all of which are rooted in long-standing and popular genres. Mirrored Souls (pictured above) from The Bricks Studio is described as a “single-player-co-op puzzle-platformer” in which players control two characters at the same time on a mirrored screen in an attempt to reunite them.

Holy Hunt from Artificial is an 8-bit retro top-down shooter. UDO from Blue Firefly is an arcade down-scroller roguelike in which the player uses a massive drill to discover mysteries, while fighting baddies. Food Boy from Dopamin Game Studio is described as “Paperboy meets food delivery service”.

Santos says these games are all made by teams that are small, and ambitious. “They are really young people who are starting their careers, We try to guide them as best as we can through creating a good product and games that are compelling, with a good hook.”

Although Short N Sweet has yet to announce any concrete deals,  Santos is optimistic about ongoing discussions. 

“I can’t say too much because of NDAs, but the reception of companies such as Nintendo and Microsoft has been amazing. They’ve been very helpful with supporting our business and helping us navigate towards success. Of course, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but I can say that they have responded very well to what we’re trying to do.”

Drag out content

I ask Santos if he is able to define a short game. “It’s subjective, of course,” he says, adding that he enjoys playing long games as well as short games. “The way we see it is – a short game doesn’t have any fillers. They don’t drag out content just to make the experience longer.” He argues that the games market has often marketed hours-of-gameplay as a value proposition, which is unusual in art and entertainment. Books and movies might be known for being especially long, but this is rarely touted as a marketable benefit.

“We want to make the experience optimal for players,” he says. “If the game is best at five or six hours, then that’s how long it should be.”

One unresolved issue is price. Santos says that although the company has done a lot of market research, it’s yet to land on a pricing strategy. “We’re still working on that. There’s a very fine line between valuing your product [correctly] or missing the mark there. We need to be mindful of not going so low that the developer isn’t able to invest in their next game. And we can’t be too high because of the consumer’s perception of value. We want to find that sweet spot where players feel that their money was well spent, whilst the developers are compensated and able to make more games.”

In the meantime, talks are ongoing with the console companies. Short N Sweet wants to create a new niche sector in console gaming that gives developers in Brazil an opportunity to work with the likes of Nintendo and Sony, while serving the massive global console market.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist. © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.