GS: Do you eat at Burger King?
PO: I will eat at Burger King, I’ll eat at any of these places, quite frankly, I’m not amazingly fussy. I’ve got three kids, so if you go shopping it’s like you have to trade with them. ‘If we’re going to go shopping dad, we’re going to have to stop in at a Burger King or a McDonald’s or something.' So yeah, I’m quite happy to eat at Burger King.
GS: What’s your favorite thing there?
PO: I have to say it’s always chicken. Whenever I go to any of these places, it’s always chicken, and it’s always probably the most expensive chicken burger as well. If I eat at fast food joints, I can afford to pay a bit extra to get the quality one. (laughs)
GS: There’s a lot of talk about video game violence and things –do you think these games will make people want more junk food?
PO: (laughs) I thought you were getting on to Reservoir Dogs there, but you didn’t! You’re on to gnash again. We can talk about that! Will the games make people eat more junk food? I don’t know. I’m hoping that Burger King feel this is a hugely successful marketing campaign, and I’m hoping a lot of people will go and talk about Burger King and these games, and how they’re really good and everything, and the level of loyalty and their sales do go up. So, in some ways yes. Is that us promoting people eating fast food, I don’t know! Could be, but me personally, I’d say, well fine it’s fast food, but can’t we make sure they’re better quality when you go in? I have to say I think Burger King does try to do that. I think Burger King is kind of slightly more up-market than its competitors.
GS: So you’re not kept up nights thinking about people getting fat?
PO: I’m not awake at night doing that, no. I was awake at night worrying if we were going to hit our deadlines! This is a massive campaign for Burger King, they’ve put so much money into this, into the inventory, into paying us to do these games, into all the TV advertising around it and everything, and if we missed by a few weeks, it would have completely screwed everything. And there wasn’t a lot of slop in the schedule to miss. We couldn’t say ‘oh let’s just put a month’s slop time in there,' because that just cuts directly into development, and we’d have to lose a lot of content. So that kept me awake at night, but they’re all mastered now, we’ve had our champagne, and we’re all very happy.
GS: Hooray! So did you manage to slip Dizzy in there somehow?
PO: No, we didn’t get Dizzy in there, how do you know about Dizzy, you’re American! What do you know about Dizzy?
GS: Hey, I do my research! He is a food product after all…
PO: Oh, lay an egg. No, there’s no Dizzy in there, we’re fond of Dizzy but that was years ago. The problem with Dizzy is the IP is owned by Codemasters, and we can’t do anything without their permission, and every time we ask for their permission, they say no! So we can’t do anything. And every time they ask us, and they don’t ask us that often, we sort of feel like saying ‘no,’just to be sorry for. But we signed a deal with them just a bit ago for some mobile phone stuff, so maybe that’ll happen.
GS: I was just thinking that would be a very appropriate easter egg, as it were, for the Burger King games.
PO: Oh absolutely, and you know a couple of years ago we had a campaign to them, a sort of pitch document to produce Dizzy games for them, and they would always be sold at Easter as the 'Alternative Egg.' So parents didn’t have to buy chocolate every year, they could buy the alternative egg. But it didn’t go through.
GS: Switching gears to the newly launched Blitz Arcade, did you fund that partially with your Burger King winnings?
PO: Yeah, absolutely. The guys paid well, they got us up to speed very fast on our technology, and we got an awful lot of people focused on those sort of small games, and on Xbox 360, and a good relationship with Microsoft to do all this kind of stuff. We kind of figured we wanted to go into this area anyway, which is why we were talking to Ross Erickson in the first place, and we would’ve already had games on Xbox Live Arcade if it wasn’t for the fact that we diverted to do this. So now that those games are finished, we’re going straight onto this, in a big way. We want to be a major developer of downloadable games, not just for Xbox Live Arcade, but for the Sony system and the Nintendo system.
GS: Have you heard much about what Nintendo’s going to do in terms of third party originals for Virtual Console?
PO: I believe that on the other line is a conference call between the person at Nintendo and the head of our arcade division, right now. We’ll know a lot more in about an hour’s time I guess.
GS: Wish I’d called you an hour later!
PO: Well, actually I don’t know it, because it’s the other guys who are dealing with it. We’re such a big company now, the reason we’re calling it divisions is that I’m sort of stepping back from the front of things, and they’re kind of business units in their own rights. So Chris Swan, who’s actually heading up Blitz Arcade, he’s basically handling everything. He’s going to sort all his contacts out, sort out the financing, the people, he’s got to do everything! So I just say yep, you go along and do everything. I’ll give a bit of advice, and I’m here, but really, I’m going to just let you run with it. He knows what he’s doing, he owned much of the Burger King stuff, though he got a few managers to help him.