Interview: Premium Edition Games gets physical on Nintendo Switch

Something we’ve been seeing a lot more of lately are indie developers teaming up with publishing companies to make their Nintendo Switch releases in physical form. Limited Run Games has found great success in this, along with other companies. Now, Premium Edition Games is getting a turn.

The newly founded company recently released its first two physical Nintendo Switch games, Super Blood Hockey and Pigeon Dev Games Collection, both of which are big hits with collectors. There’s more where that came from, with other titles currently in the works.

To get an idea of what it’s like to create physical Nintendo Switch games – as well as what leads to the decision of which games to publish – we talked with Premium Edition Games co-founder (and Nintendo Switch fan) Jonathan Polan. You can see the full interview below, and then order the games for yourself from the Premium Edition Games page!

First off, we know you and your team have been big fans of Nintendo Switch games for some time, based on your fun little Facebook group and the Switchmania Playcast. What made you guys decide to get into game publishing?

The start of this journey was a very slow progression that really began when (co-founder) Jeffrey (Wittenhagen) reached out to me to see if I was interested in assisting on his upcoming book, The Switch Collector. The Switch Collector is a series that will chronicle all the Nintendo Switch physical releases (as well as many digital only titles, cool collectibles and more) on a year by year basis. From there, we both began the weekly Switchmania Playcast series to not only help promote the upcoming book, but share our love of the Switch. 

It was at this time that we both attended a video game convention to host a panel about the upcoming book series where talks of potentially starting a physical publishing company began. Being very big physical collectors as well as appreciative of that medium, it felt like a natural progression of where we wanted to focus our passion. Plus, being a full set Nintendo Switch physical collector, how could I pass up the opportunity to see if we could make this possible?! Fast forward to August 11, 2020 and we officially launched Premium Edition Games to the world, haha!

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to launching a company like this? Supplies for publishing the cartridges? Making publishing deals with the developers? We know more companies are trying to get into it, but what’s probably the biggest hurdle to overcome?

There’s definitely a number of challenges and while finances is towards the top, I would really say time and passion rank just as high. Becoming a physical publisher (Nintendo Switch specific) takes a lot of time. From registering your company to applying with Nintendo, it’s not an overnight process. On top of that, you want to make sure you have the right business plan, members comprising your team, and the dedication to making this work. Once those are accounted for, it then shifts to finding the right titles to sign and to see what’s available. Who would be willing to work with a new publisher? Are our ideas in line with how the developer and digital publisher (if applicable) view their game should be handled?

That’s why Jeff and I first started discussions over a year before we officially launched. There was a lot to set up prior to going public and even today, we continue to finetune our process and constantly look at ways to enhance our efficiency and how we want our company to run. I did allude to finances earlier and that’s absolutely a big challenge for anyone looking to get into this field. Sadly, much like in life, everything costs money and it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with every step of the process. Thankfully, one piece of advice I would share is to take every step one at a time and make sure you set your company, and expectations, early on!

What goes into selecting the games that you want to publish under your label? Looking for what’s trending in the eShop on the Switch? Buzz within the indie community?

There’s a few factors to consider when it comes to deciding what game(s) to publish under our Premium Edition label. On our side, it’s whether the game appeals to us and if we would buy it as a physical if it was released. Another aspect is if a game that we are interested in is even available to have discussions with the developer. Many times, there might already be plans for a physical with another publisher or the developer might not be interested. 

For us, it’s a mixture of having developers reach out to us personally with a game (or selection of games) in addition to us staying on top of upcoming releases. Plus, we are part of a wonderful community where we’ll get suggestions every day of digital only games that people would love to see physically. Thankfully, with the Nintendo Switch already being in its fifth year, there are so many amazing games on the eShop from previous years that should have had a physical, but never did. In short, there are no shortages of amazing games waiting to be put on a cartridge!

The first game you’ve released is Super Blood Hockey. Almost seems like Blades of Steel with a hint of Mutant League Hockey for good measure. Has there been a lot of buzz behind this title? How has reception behind the physical release been so far?

Super Blood Hockey is such an amazing game that first released on Steam back in August 2017 and then on the Switch in April 2019. That means it’s been around for a few years, depending on when you first played it and the buzz was there. With the Switch not having many sports games (realistic or arcade-like), we wanted to change that! So when Jeff and I knew we wanted to move forward and make Premium Edition Games a reality, Super Blood Hockey was already on our short list of games to pursue. We began talks with the digital publisher, Digerati, as well as the developer, Loren Lemcke. Jeff and I explained our goals for the company and it was quickly a perfect match. 

From the moment we launched pre-orders in August 2020 to shipping just a few weeks ago, the excitement has continued to grow! So many new Super Blood Hockey gamers have been made through our physical releases and it’s been such a delight watching Loren see all that love on social media!

Next up is Pigeon Dev Games Collection, a release we haven’t even heard that much about. Tell us how you managed to make this a reality on the publishing front. Were the developers excited to take part?

Similar to Super Blood Hockey, we had a short list of titles that we were interested in. Awesome Pea 1 and 2, two of the games on the Pigeon Dev Games Collection, had made that list. So when the digital publisher, Sometimes You, approached us with an introduction to himself and the games he represented, it felt like the stars were aligning. What’s interesting about this release is that while Awesome Pea 1 and 2 have had a physical release on the PS4 and Vita from other publishers, Bucket Knight and Explosive Jake (the other two games in our collection) did not. 

One of our goals as a company is to really create a lot of value with our releases and what better way than a four-in-one games collection as our second title?! With the digital publisher and developer of all four games on board for this approach, Pigeon Dev Games Collection was born! Fun fact, but these are four individual games on the Switch, meaning each one has its own game icon on your home screen. While we’ve seen just a few releases overseas having multiple games on one cartridge, this really hasn’t been done before with a North American Switch physical release. It felt really cool to be one of the first North American physical Switch publishers offering a compilation like this.

How has reception been to these releases so far? Do you have any trouble with supply and demand like other certain companies out there, or have you taken steps to assure it won’t happen?

The reception has been nothing short of amazing! From the first day we announced, we had a lot of support from the Nintendo Switch community we were already a part of. As the months went by, we continued to see new people pre-ordering and then sharing their excitement for our upcoming releases. Then shipping began! With that, it’s brought so much excitement because of our #PremiumUnboxing and #PremiumChallenge initiative. 

To summarize: The #PremiumUnboxing is when you do a video unboxing on social media for our releases. The #PremiumChallenge is a developer specific challenge for the game that is on the back of the included trading card in the case. Complete the challenge, follow the rules on the card (post a pic, e-mail us, etc.) and you’ve done your part.

The really cool part? For doing either the Unboxing or Challenge, we will mail you a patch…FOR FREE! These are highly limited so once we are out, we are out! However, to see everyone posting their videos and pics has just been so much fun! We are seeing such a positive reaction to these patches and it’s really added a whole new level to our company. We want our games to be played and with the Nintendo Switch not having an achievement system, the patches are the way to help gamers rip open the plastic and enjoy these amazing titles! Plus, getting a physical accomplishment never hurts either, haha.

We see the next release is A Robot Named Fight!, a really underrated Metroidvania style adventure. How has the response been thus far to its announcement, and what are you hoping to do with its physical release in terms of special edition content?

Unbelievable! It’s no secret that when we announced A Robot Named Fight! during our launch Direct video, it’s been one of the most talked about titles of ours to date. Every day we have people asking when pre-orders will go live, what we’re doing in terms of our physical release, and when will it be released. That credit goes to the hard work developer, Matt Bitner, and digital publisher, Hitcents, have done with this game. There is such strong support and a wonderful community revolving around Robot that Jeff and I were surprised a physical wasn’t already in the works! Needless to say, we are VERY happy Premium Edition Games is the physical publisher that will finally help preserve this game for generations to come.

As of now, we’ve been working on this release since we launched and are taking the proper steps to get as much completed prior to pre-orders opening. This will help ensure that the wait that gamers will have between pre-ordering and availability is a small one. I can say that there will be a Premium, Retro and Deluxe Edition for Robot with some amazing physical items to go along with that. Plus, there might even be another Premium Edition first that goes along with this release. 

While I can’t share a specific pre-order/release date at this time, we are still on track for a 2021 release and I’d recommend making sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and following us on social media for future updates!

Tell us more about this mysterious new project called Sunshine Manor. It looks like you’re actually playing a part in this game’s development, along with its publishing.

Ah, Sunshine Manor! This was a game that the digital publisher contacted us about when we launched to share some of their projects. It was at that time when the first game in the series, Camp Sunshine, was already available on Steam, but not yet on the Switch. It took all of a few minutes playing Camp Sunshine to know that everything about it is what Jeff and I love about video games. The retro inspired graphics, the storyline, the gameplay, music and more. So, when we learned Camp Sunshine and the upcoming Sunshine Manor was planned for the Switch, we proposed a two-in-one physical release.

The developer, Fossil Games, were going to take Sunshine Manor to Kickstarter and we partnered with them to create an exclusive Kickstarter physical edition. We are so happy to see the Kickstarter was very successful and development of the game is going well. For those wondering, we will offer our Premium edition on our site at a later time, but the physical items from the Kickstarter edition will remain exclusive to that version. You can actually still pre-order the Kickstarter edition here.

You’re also offering a book called The Switch Collector Volume One. Tell us what that’s all about.

As I briefly talked about earlier, Jeffrey Wittenhagen began The Switch Collector book series. As a published author with a number of video game related books under his publishing company, Hagen’s Alley, it was time to focus on the Switch. As a very big physical collector myself, when Jeffrey approached me to see if I would be interested in working with him on it, I couldn’t say no! We launched a Kickstarter in September 2019 that was funded within 24 hours and in less than a year’s time, Volume One released. This chronicled the physical releases during Year One of the Switch (March 3, 2017 – March 3, 2018). Additionally, there are sections in the book for digital only games, collector items/pieces, backer write-ups and more.

As of now, we launched the Kickstarter for Volume Two back in November 2020 that will cover the first half of Year Two (there’s THAT many games, haha!). The Kickstarter was very successful and writing is well underway. Make sure to be following us on social media for future updates on Volume Two!

Finally, you haven’t announced too many new projects yet, but are there any “dream” titles that you’d like to publish down the road? Or upcoming indie games that you’re excited about? (It’s okay if you want to say Sunsetriders, hehe.)

This one is a little hard to answer as we actually have a number of titles signed that will complete our 2021 (and potentially into 2022) line-up. However, one indie game that I have not been afraid to publicly say how badly I want it is Wunderling from Retroid. I had the opportunity to play this at PAX East 2020 where I sat with the developer as I played the exclusive demo he created for the convention. Wunderling is one of those titles that you just know from 1 minute of playing that it’s a solid game. Since its release on the Switch, that feeling of wanting to bring this physically has only intensified and is 100% my dream game at this time. So, you never know?!

I did want to say thank you again for this opportunity to share some words about Premium Edition Games. I also want to give a shout-out to our amazing team, consisting of: Barry, Frank, Dan, Rowan, Erica and Steve. It’s been such a delight forming this team of passionate gamers and collectors! Plus, a huge thank you to the community for their continued support and the wonderful developers and publishers we’ve been fortunate to work with so far!

Again, you guys can check out the website here. Thanks, Jonathan!

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