I remember interviewing Josh Fairhurst of Limited Run Games in 2016, and since his company’s formation, there have been a number of viable competitors entering the limited print run niche. With Strictly Limited Games being one of the more illustrious companies operating within the sector, it was a privilege to speak to Benedict Braitsch (Co-Founder, Strictly Limited Games) and get to find out a little bit more about his company. Enjoy!
First off, let’s start from the beginning. How did the company form and what made you think that there was a viable enough demand for people who wanted a limited run or a “strictly limited” version of what was already available in a digital format?
Strictly Limited Games was founded in 2017, and it was formed by Dennis Mendel and I. We did that. And we did it because we are both game collectors. So actually, at one point, we were both working in the same company, like doing digital distribution, boring key distribution, e-commerce stuff. And we were meeting at a coffee point and having a coffee, talking. We are both bored and we figured “Hey, we are both game collectors.” It’s our passion and what we’ve been doing it for quite a while. So we came up with the idea since we also know Limited Run Games and others. “Why should we do that ourselves?” Because at this point, back in 2017, the market was way less crowded than it is nowadays and there was no other competitors besides Limited Run Games. So we thought it would be a good idea to do that and luckily, it turned out to be a good idea.
If I’ve got the companies right, you have worked with Limited Run Games before in terms of variant covers, is that correct?
Actually, the business model is quite similar because we’re publishing limited quantities of console games. But we are focusing a little bit on the games and we only publish one game per month.
Unlike Limited Run Games who publish slightly more than one title a month…
Yeah, right. I mean back in the day, even with LRG, it was not too crowded. The market was not too crowded. But as a customer, if I want to get every game that’s out there, it’s just too expensive. I can’t get every game. I’ve got most of the games… like, until release… 60 or 70. Something like that. I’ve got these releases but at some point it just got too expensive and that’s why we said “hey, of course we want to grow with cool games and cool licenses, but we don’t want to overdo it.” That’s why we stick to one game per month.
Obviously with the market now being so much more crowded than it was, and with big publishers Like Square Enix getting on board with limited run releases of their own games… But, with there being so many competitors, with Limited Run Games being first on the market… I understand that your limited to one game a month and that’s a limit that you impose upon yourself, but how do you ensure that you’re able to get good games when there are other people that also want to snatch the same license?
That’s a good point because usually the big IP’s, they’re very sought after, and it’s not that easy to get them but we still got Wonder Boy, R-Type, Ninja Saviors, and other big titles. So it’s still possible if you can sell a reasonable amount of copies to the customer and sometimes it’s also about luck. You have to be at the right place, at the right time, know the right people, so there’s always a chance, and I think we have a quality lineup which also states that, to potential partners, states that their game is valued as a good game because we won’t sign every game.
That is true. And with one game a month, you can only sign 12 games in a year anyway. But going forward, with the market becoming increasingly digital and with streaming services becoming a more viable option for people to be able to get their games, how long do you think it’ll be before people give up on physical games? Do you think there will always be a market for physical games, or do you think they will eventually go away?
I really love the physical market. I personally play on PC a lot. I’ve got a lot of games on Steam but I also like to collect physical games. And I especially think there will be a market for retro games. But it will get interesting as soon as Sony or Nintendo make devices that don’t feature any discs or cartridges any longer. Like, Sony announced that PlayStation 5 will have a hard drive, but then what will happen with the PlayStation 6? So it’s hard to tell what might be in the future because if Sony don’t support any discs, it will be impossible to make physical versions. And we’re not a fan of code in a box… stuff like that, because it defeats the purpose of physical games.
Would you ever consider doing a collaboration with other limited run companies? Like how Limited Run Games have done variant covers with Special Reserve Games…
I wouldn’t say no to any variants. I mean if Limited Run Games wanted to do some kind of cooperation, if there is something where both parties can profit, then why not? A lot of publishers tend to think that it’s about competition and we’re all competitors but, we’re doing it out of passion and I think that a lot of other publishers are the same. Maybe not all, but a lot of them are doing this because of the passion. And so why should we say no if it’s a good idea, if someone approaches to us with some idea… We’ve been in contact with some of the other publishers. We’re having good vibes, we know LRG, we know Super Rare and the others. So it’s not like we’re competitors… more like a big, big collecting family.
What is Strictly Limited Games future plans?
We have quite a few future plans, but I can’t talk about too many of them. Like we had this game, Hardcore, which was developed in 1994 by Dice. It was an unreleased Sega Mega Drive game for 25 years and we finalized that game. We made some interesting learnings regarding game production in general, because we didn’t produce a game before. About timelines, sketches and stuff. And there definitely will be future projects with games that have been unreleased or games that have been previously arcade-exclusive. Like really, really cool stuff we’re very much looking forward to. Games will always be our following, and we’ll always stay true to our core passion, and that’s about retro 2D pixel art. So these games are in the same spirit.
So retro 2D pixel art games are the kind of games that you essentially end up picking?
Mostly, yeah. It’s a little bit difficult of course. If the people think you’re only doing retro stuff… because we are open to any kind of stuff. We’ve released Immortal Redneck which was a 3D shooting game for PS4. It’s an excellent game like Serious Sam. But back then, it was a little difficult because it was not a pixel art game. But we might try some other type of games in the future, but we’ll always have some cool retro stuff of course.
Do you think you’ll look to fund and exclusively release games from a digital perspective in future?
Yeah, absolutely. We have funded some games actually. We’ve co-funded the development of Vasara which is a Japanese arcade shoot em’ up from back in 2000. We’ve co-funded that project. And there are some other projects of this kind. And these are actually games that haven’t been released in any form, and we are working actively on bringing these to console. So these are unreleased, and I can’t talk about them, but we have some things other than just releasing digital-only titles that are available already on the disc. We are really trying to make a difference with some of the projects.
Out of all the games that are out there, including retro and presently unreleased games, is there any specific game or franchise that you really want to have associated with Strictly Limited Games? What would be your dream release?
That’s a good question. From a personal point of view, I always say it’s To the Moon. To the Moon is an RPG PC game. Very much story-telling. Some people say its not a game, and that it’s only 4 hours long. But it has an amazing story, and I like the developer. I like the story of the developer, I like the music and everything to do with this game. But I haven’t had any success yet in reaching out to him. If there should be anyone out there who knows of the developer, you can tell him that here’s someone who would love to do a physical edition of his game. I’d really like to, because it’s an amazing game.
Thank you so much, Benedict.