Introducing Kowloon Nights
Hi, my name is Alexis from KOWLOON NIGHTS, a global fund dedicated to enabling independent game developers. Now that we have officially unveiled the fund and some of its projects, I thought it would be good occasion to pen a short introduction (“hi!”) and preemptively answer some of the questions you may have about us.
“What is KOWLOON NIGHTS and why start it?”
KOWLOON NIGHTS was founded in late 2017 by Alexis, Jay, Lindsey, Ryan, and Sam to support independent developers around the world and offer a straightforward way to fund their games.
Historically, funding and publishing games has been almost synonymous, however, that model has not evolved at the same pace as this fast-moving industry. KOWLOON NIGHTS is focused on financing developers in a way that’s tailored to the unique needs of each studio. This means developers can choose to self-publish, sign with a publisher, or even seek additional funding from other sources if necessary.
Our founding team’s background is both in game development (Lindsey and Ryan run their own studios) and business (I was one of the founders of ID@Xbox and both Jay and Sam were longtime advisors to large global publishers). Our backgrounds have guided us in the creation of the fund, and taught us the importance of listening to developers and then translating their feedback into what now makes up the core principles of KOWLOON NIGHTS:
- Decide quickly
- Offer fair terms
- Sign games we love
- Be hands off during development
- Let creators capture the spotlight
We believe developers are at their best when they have both freedom and funding when realizing their creations. We’re here to help them realize their vision.
“What kind of games does KOWLOON NIGHTS fund?”
As you can see with our portfolio, we have pretty diverse taste. KOWLOON NIGHTS is not a publisher, which means we can work behind the scenes and support games that we feel passionate regardless of game genre, size, or if they have single or multiplayer features. But there is a throughline with the games we sign — the group tends to get excited about titles with a strong creative voice, unique art direction, innovative mechanics, and exceptional execution. And while not a hard-and-fast rule, we typically look at premium PC & console games.
“What is your team’s decision-making process?”
Everyone has an equal voice on our team, requiring all team members get on-board when deciding to fund a project. When we encounter titles that are polarizing, it’s up to the champions of the game to convince the rest of the group, which we find to be a healthy process.
We treat all games equally. Every pitch submitted is reviewed by the entire team and discussed during a weekly along with around five other titles.
We are decisive. We understand how grueling, stressful, and time-consuming the pitch process can be, so we do our best to make fast decisions and get back to the developer. For projects we decide to fund, the time from the team’s collective thumbs-up to a fully signed contract is typically between two to four weeks.
“What sort of terms do you offer?”
We want to empower our creators, which is why we offer terms that give developers the majority of the financial upside and put them in control of the game’s creative. And while deals will change depending on the scope, here are our common deal terms:
- The developer keeps full ownership of their IP
- The developer has full creative control over their game
- Revenue is shared from the first unit sold
- Sequel/prequel rights are for the developer’s to keep
- The developer is free to self-publish or sign with a publisher
“Does KOWLOON NIGHTS offer anything besides funding?”
One thing that influenced us during the creation of KOWLOON NIGHTS is the rise of premium games in Asia. Given our backgrounds in the region — from my work on WeGame in China and Ryan’s time at Kojima Productions in Tokyo to Jay’s time as an advisor to CEOs of major Asian players — we offer to be conduits between our developers and untapped potential in Asia by expanding the reach of their games and studios to new players and partners. This passion of ours is a strong part of our identity, and a big reason why we named the fund after an area of Hong Kong, inspired by how the city acts as a super connector of east and west.
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I want to sincerely thank you for checking out KOWLOON NIGHTS. We’re incredibly excited about the fund, the projects we’ve signed, and the team we’ve assembled. Formally announcing the fund is a big step for us, and we hope that it leads to connecting with even more developers, signing more amazing projects, and then watching (and supporting them) find success.
- Alexis Garavaryan