Clap your hands if you believe in genies. Or just join the fan club!
It's not easy to get a publishing deal for a game that isn't based on an established brand or franchise. Just ask Matt Bozon, creative director of WayForward, who's been trying to get a deal for a sequel to the studio's 2002 Game Boy Color title Shantae, a platformer which featured a genie who belly-dances and whips her hair.
Contributing to IGN Mailbag in May of this year to answer a reader question, Bozon wrote,
"when Shantae GBC was completed, it went to manufacturing, but then sat in the cue [sic] for 8 months while GBA took over the planet. Upon its release, it didn't sell huge numbers but the reviews were stellar. While many publishers are willing to push the [sequel to the] game, the lowly sales of the original make it a tough sell to the folks who crunch numbers, and the retailers."
But WayForward, who this year released Contra 4 and Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck for the DS, hasn't given up yet. They recently started a page on their website for the Shantae Fan Club so fans of the franchise can sign-up and offer their support for a future sequel. WayForward hopes this information will help them convince publishers to sign Shantae up for a new game. In a letter addressed to "friends of Sequin Land," the website explains that,
"what Shantae needs (she talks in her sleep) are fans in great numbers to get loud. We’ve pitched sequels on all systems, and have had publishing deals on the table. What keeps this passionate lass tethered down are the low sales of original hardcore games in this age of mega-hitting dog petting, mama-cooking, brain training games. The question on the minds of our cash focused partners; how many Shantae fans are out there, ready to buy up a sequel? If we build it, will they come?"