Chillingo’s Former Head of Publishing Launches New Label Ayopa With a Bang

Watch out, there’s a new publishing label in town.

Johnny Coghlan, who used to head publishing at Chillingo and was vice president of business development at Storm8, has partnered with a longtime former colleague and Sega and Logitech marketing executive Elliott Chin to launch Ayopa Games.

They kicked it off with a bang last week when their first published title, W.E.L.D.E.R. from Highline Games, rose to top the of the paid iPad apps list on the back of a Game of the Week promotion from Apple.

The company’s focusing on small, independent shops building apps that are primarily paid (not free) and on iOS.

“Every publisher has their own approach — their own creed, if you will,” Coghlan told us. “Our creed is that we we focus exclusively on quality and innovation for independently developed games. We’re not looking for more of the same. We’re not looking to be a factory that churns out the same games again and again.”

Coghlan joined Chillingo when it was a two-man shop back in 2009, then left around the time of the company’s sale to Electronic Arts to go to Storm8, the company behind several of the highest-grossing RPGs and casual games on both iOS and Android. He and Chin founded the new label in July, after Coghlan decided he wanted to strike out on his own.

So what do publishers do in a world where several of Chillingo’s most esteemed former partners like Rovio Mobile and Cut The Rope-maker ZeptoLab have gone off to work on their own?

“Some of the developers we work with are startup shops that have potentially never even made a game,” Coghlan said. “They may not know how to do project management. They may not know how to make a game which is accessible to the market. They may not have an understanding of what makes a good interface or how to design good tutorials.”

“At the same time, we also work with developers who are hugely experienced and very talented,” he said. “They need to know how to channel a concept into a long-term success that’s communicated well to people, Apple, the press and consumers.”

He said working with Apple was like prepping a game for retail in a major chain, something he did when he worked at Sega for four years on global brand management.

“You have to have your shit together. You have to do the work,” he said. “We make sure that when we go to Apple, the game we present is a truly, deserving worthy game and that they have all of the assets and information.” Ayopa’s first published title W.E.L.D.E.R. from Highline Games, was featured as Game of the Week while the second, Chicken Rescue from End Boss Games, was put in the New & Noteworthy category. (You can see the trailer the developer and Ayopa collaborated on below.)

And what kinds of terms does Ayopa ask for? Coghlan was hesitant to provide specifics because it varies widely depending on the experience of the developer. He also hedged around whether Ayopa has a strict stance on asking for intellectual property rights.

“We ask for a revenue share based upon what we contribute to the game,” he said. “The developer has to do better financially in terms of building their brand than they would by not working with us.”

He added, “Our contracts are there not to screw the developers over. We need them to succeed because our current developers are our best evangelists.”

Ayopa, which takes its name from an alternative Greek spelling for the word forum, is self-funded and doesn’t plan to raise capital.