Getting Hard Boiled: Midway Chicago's Mike Bilder on Stranglehold
October 31, 2007 Page 2 of 5
Does it concern you at all in terms of number of consoles sold on the PS3 side? Or, since it's multi-SKU, it doesn't matter?
MB: I don't know that that's
necessarily an answer that I can give you. There are a number of other
people in the company that are always looking at the economics and the
marketplace, and the install base and whatnot. Just from a PD standpoint
we obviously want to sell as many units as we can on as many platforms,
so we always try to optimize for those variables, right?
Yeah. Midway seems to have recently gone really full-force with the original IP stuff, which not a lot of other publishers are doing. Do you think that's going to... I don't want to say "turn things around for you", but is that going to bring you guys to the fore?
MB: Yeah, I think that's certainly part of our strategy right now. And I don't know that it's necessarily a hidden part of our strategy; it's out in the open, we're betting a lot on a lot of new IP, but traditionally what we've seen are companies that do become dominant during a certain hardware transition, meaning like PS1 to PS2, or even now, PS2 to PS3 and Xbox, Xbox 360 and so on and so forth, and it's people that really establish new key franchises.
So we are betting heavy on new IP, we are trying not to just rest on laurels and become a sequel house. And really, Stranglehold is one of our first endeavors there and we're thrilled with the way it's turned out. So we want that to become a competitive advantage for ourselves, for sure.
In a way, you've almost started a little later, though. I don't mean in terms of the game's development cycle, but in terms of releasing games to the market. What is the logic behind waiting to release your original stuff?
MB: I think we've had a mantra
of "fewer, bigger, better", and just taking the time to make
our games hit a quality level, instead of trying to crank out ten games
that are B-quality, let's crank out five games that are A-quality.
So we don't want to rush things
to market, we want to take time and do things right, and invent new
technology, invent new gameplay mechanics, and again, I think Stranglehold
is a good example of that with the massive destructibility and some
of the new elements of gameplay you haven't traditionally seen in action
games or first person shooter games, and it's taken time to develop
that technology. It's taken time to develop that expertise internally.
So instead of rush something to market, we'd rather noodle on it and get it right, get it to 100 percent. So I think that's why we might be a little bit lagging from launch titles of when the systems initially came out, but at the same time it gives us an opportunity to capitalize on a bigger installed base. Heck of a lot more 360s out there then there were that Christmas they came out, and same thing with the PS3s, this holiday as opposed to last holiday.
Yeah, you're going to sell
a lot more of these than some of the launch games.
MB: Because there's just more
units out there, yeah. That's certainly our expectation.
What's interesting to me
is that, with this hardware generation, right now there's
still a strong element of spectacle; people will get excited about a
game. It strikes me that if Stranglehold weren't an amazing game,
they'd still be amazed at the fact that they could blow everything up.
We still have that kind of early-Hollywood-era kind of
"Wow, this thing is actually happening and it kind of looks like
reality!" How long do you think that's going to last?
MB: That's a very interesting
question. I think that's partially ingrained into our fan base and our
consumer, that's what turns them on, that's what they like. So every
company's always looking for that next big competitive hook in their
game, or angle they can add to an existing franchise or an existing
genre, and I think as long as those ideas persist and as long as people
come up with new ways to innovate within them, that that's always going
to be a mainstay in this industry, I do. In the same way that I think
there are certain types of hooks in the film industry. I mean, Matrix
comes out and suddenly bullet-time becomes the new hook...
Or Stranglehold's Tequila Time.
MB: Or Tequila Time, sure. You see the crossover effect there.
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