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No More Robots: the indie game publisher putting Manchester on the map

We explore the story of Mike Rose, a Manchester-based game developer and journalist who founded a unique publishing label with a focus on caring about the games they sign, advocacy for diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to building lasting relationships with their partners.

Mike Rose is a video game developer from Manchester who has made waves in the gaming industry.

He has worked as a games journalist and a publisher before starting his own publishing label, No More Robots, in 2017.

No More Robots publishes a variety of indie games, primarily on PC and console platforms.

Some of the notable games they have published include “Descenders,” a downhill biking game with procedurally generated levels; “Yes, Your Grace,” a kingdom management sim; and “Huntdown,” a retro-style run-and-gun game set in a dystopian future.

In addition to its work as a game publisher, No More Robots has also been involved in advocacy for the video game industry, particularly in the areas of diversity and inclusion.

The company has sponsored events such as the Women in Games Awards and has been vocal about the need for greater representation and inclusivity in the industry.

No More Robots is a Manchester success story, but the company has not been without its fair share of hardships.

In this interview, Mike talks about the challenges of the industry, the philosophy behind his label, and the impact of his surroundings on his creativity.

I asked Mike what makes No More Robots different.

He said: “That’s pretty easy — we genuinely give a crap. Every game we sign, we do so with the intention that the game will receive our full attention, and we’ll try our dang hardest for it. That’s compared to the usual publishing model, which is “sign loads of stuff, and as long as a portion of it does well, we’re okay.” That approach doesn’t sit right with us, and we much prefer to build lasting relationships with every partner we work with”

The gaming industry has seen a decline in sales in recent years, but Rose remains optimistic.

He sees potential in-game subscription services, cloud gaming, and new consoles and platforms.

However, he also acknowledges the tough ride ahead. For Rose, the key to success is caring about the games he signs.

Unlike the traditional publishing model, which is focused on signing as many games as possible, No More Robots prioritises building lasting relationships with their partners. They sign games that they believe in, and they work hard to make sure those games succeed.

So how does Rose decide which games to sign?

It’s a mystical process, he admits. He simply gets a feeling for a game.

If it’s doing something different or “out there,” he knows it’s a No More Robots game.

But it’s not just about uniqueness.

Finding the fun early in the development process is crucial.

Mike emphasises that developers should focus on making the prototype immediately fun, rather than banking on it being fun by the end.

No More Robots has half a dozen games in the pipeline, including Slayers X, a first-person joke shooter, and Spirittea, a mix between Stardew Valley and Spirited Away.

Rose is hoping for great things from these games, which are set to release this year.

Being based in Manchester has been both a blessing and a curse for No More Robots.

The No More Robots Team

On the one hand, the lower cost of living has made building a business easier. On the other hand, the government’s promises of a “Northern Powerhouse” have yet to materialise.

Mike said: “Being based in Manchester has been a double-edged sword in many respects.

“On the one hand, living in Manchester doesn’t cost all the money in the world like it does in, say, London.

“So costs have been low, and that has made building a business here easier. But on the other hand, the “Northern Powerhouse” is just an absolute lie, from my perspective.

“I’ve seen no benefits from the government of building a business here, while I see other business like mine getting this, that and the other because they are London-based.

“The government likes to pretend that they care about towns and cities up here, but the truth is I don’t think they actually think about us all that much. T

“he fact that I own a multi-million pound publishing label in Manchester, and not a single government body (besides HMRC) knows or cares just really gives you an idea of how much the government is helping businesses like mine.”

Despite owning a multi-million pound publishing label in Manchester, Rose has seen no benefits from the government.

He feels that the gaming community in Manchester is not as impactful as it could be, largely due to the fact that most of the industry events and collaborations happen in the South.

However, Rose remains inspired by his surroundings, and he credits his upbringing in Manchester with giving him the confidence to start his own business.

So who does Rose admire in the industry?

Acid Nerve and White Paper Games are at the top of his list.

Both companies have produced brilliant games and are composed of nice people, in Rose’s opinion.

No More Robots’ philosophy of caring about the games they sign has paid off.

Their games have been well-received critically and commercially, and the label has gained a reputation as a publisher that developers can trust. Rose’s story shows that success in the gaming industry is possible even outside of the major gaming hubs.

With the right attitude and approach, anyone can make it in this tough and ever-changing industry.

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