Game Faces is a new series on IndieGameSource where we profile a games industry professional and/or company. Our inaugural episode is with Raghav Mathur, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Black Shell Media.
Interview conducted by Marc Saggese, Editor for IndieGameSource.
Hey Raghav! For those who don't know, what/who is Back Shell Media?
Black Shell Media is a multimedia marketing and PR studio specializing in distribution and publishing of indie games! We do a lot of marketing and work with websites, YouTubers and streamers, journalists and more, but our primary focus is on helping indie developers get on Steam and build a fanbase! Black Shell started off as my business partner, Daniel Doan, developing SanctuaryRPG while wrapping up his undergraduate degree in psychology. I, Raghav Mathur, joined him about six months later, in the summer of 2013, and eventually we grew into Black Shell Media! We filed as an LLC (a whole journey in itself!) and now it's official. We're both super excited to be doing what we do!
Raghav Mathur, co-founder of Black Shell Media
You work primarily in indie games, though your lineup seems pretty diverse. What does Black Shell look for in games/clients? Are there any through-lines in your catalog of games?
We have a selection process by which our company partners only with games and developers that would be a good fit with our brand and our personalities. Every game we publish has been analyzed, and we've had conversations with the developers to make sure we are going to have killer synergy! Both Daniel and I, as well as the rest of our studio, are avid gamers, so it's a lot of just looking at what we personally feel comfortable working on. I find that by working on stuff you're passionate about, you end up performing far better than you would by forcing yourself to work on something you aren't personally enjoying.
What’s your plan of attack when building a game’s brand? Your website lists Twitter growth, publishing, and marketing, but do any take precedence over the others?
We view most aspects equally! Building a brand is a multi-channel and multi-faceted challenge, so we hit it on multiple fronts such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and more. We focus a lot on Steam and Steam forum engagement because we like to centralize the playerbase around Steam and encourage fans to chat amongst themselves and talk to the developers through Steam forums, but the rest of our marketing channels like the press and Twitter all complement each other.
Games are fun, but Black Shell is a business. What’s your workspace like? How do you balance the joy of working in the games industry with doing good work?
It's a lot easier than you'd think! I've actually been playing games less since I started working with Daniel. I figure that each hour of my time is valuable, and if I have a free hour I'd rather spend it working rather than playing. Now this isn't to say that I don't kick back and enjoy a few rounds of Zombie Party numerous times per month when I'm with friends, but most of my available time is dedicated to work and its numerous aspects. Our work environment is very relaxed except around new launches. Then it's crazy.
You guys are based in Basking Ridge, NJ. Is there an indie game scene in your neck of the woods?
I actually lived in Basking Ridge until about a month ago, when I moved out to the Bay Area! Daniel is based in Bakersfield, CA. We met on Reddit and all of our team is a mixture of connections we had or people we recruited online. Basking Ridge didn't have as much of an indie game scene, but its proximity to New York and Boston lent itself easily to having opportunities to attend conventions and meetups! San Francisco, on the other hand, is bursting at the seams with indie games. It rocks!
I assume you all, or at least most of you, are gamers yourselves. What games are the folks at Black Shell into right now?
Personally, I'm playing a lot of Zombie Party. Ben, the developer, is a cool guy and I really like grabbing a projector, inviting a few friends to join and shooting up zombies together. I'm also revisiting a lot of the Portal series and trying out the levels again. I had originally played them a while back and it's interesting to see how quickly I can now work through puzzles I thought were challenging back then! Maybe I've grown and gotten better as a gamer. Maybe I was just really dumb back then. We'll never know!
Anything cool you’re currently working on?
We're working closely with a lot of bigger brands in the press and media, and it's been awesome to get to develop relationships with journalists, YouTube personalities and Twitch streamers. It's a whole other world, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing their fanbases intersect with ours as they cover or play our games.
Thanks! - anything else?
Just a word of advice to developers––don't be afraid of publishers! We often get a bad rap, but game publishers can really bring a lot to the table in terms of connections, reach, network and more. Black Shell aside, there are a ton of very talented publishers and marketing whizzes out there like NovyPR or Evolve PR. Get out there and start reaching out sooner rather than later!
Raghav Mathur is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Black Shell Media. Find him on Twitter at @Xinasha