Finally, we spoke with High Moon president Peter Della Penna, who recently took up the senior role with the studio in March, replacing High Moon's founding president John Rowe, who moved on to an advisory role with the company. Della Penna was previously chief operating officer for Sierra Entertainment's Worldwide Studios, and we talked to him about High Moon's overall strategy.
Why did you wind up coming to High Moon?
Peter Della Penna: I was afforded the opportunity!
How did that translate into the relationship that's happening with Vivendi?
PDP: I was the COO of Worldwide Studios. My background is in finance. I was originally the CFO at Sierra Entertainment in Bellevue. I ran operations down there around five years ago. At the time, we were primarily focused on internal development. It was part of our corporate strategy to grow in this space, so internal development was a key initiative.
In going through that, we did our portfolio analysis, and my job was to make a good match with our franchises, franchises that we would like to develop, and specific studios that would fit with Vivendi. The first acquisition I was involved in was with Radical Entertainment up in Vancouver. Then we had a smaller acquisition about 15 months afterward with Swordfish in Birmingham. Six months after that, there was High Moon. It was filling a strategic desire for internal development, in finding a collection of studios that would complement each other.
Now that it's under the Vivendi umbrella, is there still a desire to put forth the High Moon name?
PDP: Absolutely. Our development studios are all unique in their competencies and cultures, and part of innovation and creativity is driven by teamwork and the culture around that teamwork. We're not at all trying to homogenize our internal studios. I was attracted to High Moon and Swordfish because of their cultures. Yes, High Moon will be at the forefront of its products.
What do you think it takes to establish that as a name that people are going to trust and come back to?
PDP: By making great games, simple as that. Consumers aren't very forgiving. It's a tough entertainment business, and games aren't getting less expensive to make. Spending $60 on a next-gen game is tough for the consumer. There are good competitive games, so we need to be there in the forefront of our competitive products.
What does the relationship with Vivendi entail for High Moon in terms of driving their own direction? Is that driven partially by Vivendi, or is it less of a hands-on approach?
PDP: I don't think it's either side of the spectrum. Vivendi understands this business, and understands that it's a difficult business to be in. You look at where your competencies are and where your talent's at.
What talents do [our acquired studios] have, versus what we'd like to achieve from a corporate portfolio, from a Vivendi Games perspective? We like to say that with High Moon, you have [a certain] set of competencies and capabilities and passion, and that fits nicely with where we would like to be in our Vivendi portfolio.