Jon discusses new gaming journal [lock-on], crowdfunding success, and what the future holds for publishing & design studio Lost in Cult.
[lock-on] Volume 001 was pitched as a premium video game journal delivering “thought-provoking stories, insightful features and carefully curated art from industry talent”. On March 8th 2021 the project launched on crowdfunding site Kickstarter and was fully funded within the month.
Here, owner and art director at publishing start-up Lost in Cult Jon Doyle discusses volume 001’s conception, it’s successful crowdfunding campaign and the current and future plans for [lock-on] the journal and for Lost in Cult as a whole.
Read the jeffsayhi review of [lock-on] Volume 001 here.
Firstly, congratulations on the successful launch of [lock-on] Volume 001 and thank you for taking the time to speak with me. What was your initial motivation for starting this project, and what made you confident it could be a success?
Jon Doyle: Well in all honesty i have very little self confidence, so it took a good few years of dreaming up the project and some fantastic kicks by some great friends and my partner Eliza to get motivated. Once I started telling people about the project and they took note, I realised my vision wasn’t so outlandish. Lock-on is arguably the first time in my life I’ve allowed myself to push myself into committing to putting my work out publicly as my own product. Obviously fear of rejection – haha.
Have you had any experience with similar projects and with crowdfunding before?
JD: I have designed for many brands and worked with Ninty Media on art / design elements for Ninty fresh magazine.
The campaign launched in March and the book is already in people’s hands. Often similar crowdfunding projects can take anywhere up to a year to complete. How much work went into this project before the campaign was announced, and did the project run as smoothly as it appeared to from the outside?
JD: I started planning the line up of lock-on in November 2020 and ensured everything was in place for at least February. Luckily both myself and Eliza are graphic designers, so I feel what is arguably one of the hardest aspects to get right (sourcing a graphic team) – and with assistance from Jason [Maddison – Creative Director] also – this came together very well. My main issue is that I have a dismal attention span and always have, so I came to Benjamin [Hayhoe – Content Director] and Andrew [Dickinson – Editor-in-Chief] to help me arrange content and work with me on proofing. Our initial lack of experience with both marketing and social media has improved and we are quite seasoned now.
You mentioned on Twitter recently that you “decided in 2021 to launch a video game print magazine and quit my day job”. Was leaving your previous job to pursue this line of work something you always wanted to do, or did the early success of [lock-on] prompt the change?
JD: My intention was to seek freelance graphic design entirely and lock-on has spurred me to focus on that more so now. If I can focus all my time and energy on this I am very hopeful it will be a project that people can fall in love with. Video games are one of the most important things in my life. Lock-on is my tome and tribute to the feelings they give us and their significance. My original vision for lock-on was “the games we love by the people who love them.”
You talk a lot throughout the Kickstarter campaign about your passion for video game preservation, yet clearly a lot of work has gone into the digital version of the magazine. By preservation do you mean documenting in general, or are physical items you can actually hold in your hand still the most important thing to you?
JD: Preservation isn’t intrinsically linked to physical media, accessibility is also one of the most important aspects of the industry. I believe all video games, films, books and music should be available to everyone now and always function offline without server boundaries or DRM. It was important to offer lock-on to everyone. Some people may not want to own a physical book but we are preserving people’s love – imbued in digital form, and that’s eternal.
What prompted the decision to have Volume 001 focus entirely on the PlayStation brand?
JD: PlayStation is my go to console and has always been since I got my PlayStation 1 as a child – it essentially allowed me to live my dreams on a screen. PlayStation’s lineage is arguably the most important of them all; it shaped the past, present and now the future of the industry. I know many people from PlayStation and they have all been incredible to work with.
Did you learn from any mistakes while making Volume 001 and have you changed direction in any way for Volume 002 as a result?
JD: Yes a few. Shipping cost us significantly more than we anticipated due to a pandemic scenario shutting down our fulfilment partner. We didn’t want people to wait to get hands-on so we swallowed the losses. We have also learnt a fair bit more about printing now, we luckily made several samples before getting the final product in hand. I’m glad it resonates so well with people.
The Lost in Cult team have already launched a podcast and a subscription service on Steady. Was it always the plan to launch projects outside of the journal itself?
JD: The plan for lock-on was to create a content model that constantly provides those that support us with fresh content, and also allows a fantastic team of indie writers and artists to find an outlet without worrying about marketing or SEO. Originally we were going to do this for 002 but opted to bring it forward. And we aren’t done yet, so watch this space.
Finally, with the success of volume 001 assured and volume 002 imminent, what are your hopes for what can be achieved with both [lock-on] and with Lost in Cult generally in the future?
JD: We have mapped out volumes 002 through 004 currently and have already started work on them. The hope is that we can inspire and pay dedication to this glorious medium that has changed my life and I’m sure many others’ too. With Lost in Cult the hope is that we will expand to offer more products geared towards lovers of movies, music, games and even card games. Again, watch this space – haha.
I appreciate you must be very busy at the moment. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and best of luck with Volume 002 and beyond!
JD: Many thanks for having me.
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