Indie publisher Annapurna Interactive's secret weapon is the simple fact that the people there "have really good taste," as Donut County creator and Neon White director Ben Esposito puts it in the latest issue of Edge magazine.
Esposito says that Annapurna explained its approach to publishing around the time it was founded. "We are not trying to have a genre," he says of the studio's message. "We're not trying to have a vibe. We are just trying to make really cool games with really cool people."
"Now I understand where they're coming from," he adds, admitting that he was skeptical of this vision at first. "They don't want to be pinned down in that way. They just have really good taste. And that's it. That's the only thing that connects all the games."
- Want to read in-depth features into the corners of the games industry that are rarely covered? Subscribe to Edge Magazine today
Annapurna has quickly become one of the most reliable hallmarks of quality in the industry, and Esposito has more experience with the publisher than most after contributing to What Remains of Edith Finch, developing Donut County entirely solo, and now leading work on Neon White at Angel Matrix. Even he was surprised that Annapurna responded to all of these radically different games with equal enthusiasm.
"I didn’t think they would like it," he says of Neon White, an off-the-walls first-person platformer with card-powered shooting that hides a visual novel dating sim. Whereas Donut County was explicitly designed to appeal to many types of players, no matter their age or gaming experience or tastes, Neon White is unabashedly "for specific people."
"It’s not that high-minded, it’s campy, its genre. That’s not their thing," he continues. However, Annapurna was on board, and Esposito says this experience has shaped his perception of what he, too, expects from an Annapurna game. "I'm learning that too, as we go," he says.