Catching Up With Gearbox's Randy Pitchford
June 13, 2008 Page 7 of 10
The Strength of Owning Your IP
Something that's another business concern -- do you retain IP rights to Brothers in Arms, or is that Ubisoft's IP?
RP: Yeah. Brothers in Arms is a Gearbox brand, and Ubisoft is an exclusive publisher for us for that brand. They are for now, and we have such a great relationship with them that I believe that we'll be doing that with them for a long time.
Most of the publishers ask us about that, and try to see if there's an opportunity for them to get in there and buy it or something, and I say, "Look, they're a great partner, and I really love working with Ubisoft on it."
They've taken some risks with us, and they've done a lot to help, too, because they have a great marketing team and a great sales team. The U.S. guys are great, and the European guys are great.
I love the relationship. I think that it takes a lot of coordination and effort to do what we do. It's not just like, "I make a great game!" and everything else is easy. What they do is hard, too. There's value there, and I think it's smart for us to remain committed, and they're committed to us.
Something of concern is that if an IP is owned by a publisher, even if it's made by an external developer, then the publisher can make decisions on other titles using that IP by alternate teams, and that's probably not always the best...
RP: You're talking about Call of Duty, right?
Maybe I'm talking about Call of Duty or something. (laughter)
RP: Yeah, that's kind of interesting. I don't know about that. I haven't talked to any of the Infinity Ward guys about that. I wonder what they feel about what Treyarch is doing there. I think Treyarch is doing a good job helping Activision monetize the brand.
But it must be frustrating for Infinity Ward when they might have more creative interest there or everything because they're not participating in the monetization of the brand by the other studio. I guess. I don't know.
Activision/Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
It's funny, because Infinity Ward brought Call of Duty 4 up to modern combat. COD5 will be the next Treyarch one, and move back to World War II. It seems kind of weird.
RP: I think the Infinity Ward guys are great shooter developers, and I don't think they imagine themselves as World War II guys. I think they imagine themselves as great shooter guys. I think if Activision said, "Hey, we're willing to give you 20 or 30 million bucks so you can make a sci-fi game and let's try to beat Halo," I think they'd be excited about that.
By the way, I loved Call of Duty 4. I thought it was a brilliant, fun, fast kind of game. But if I had to read between the lines, I bet some of that was, "Look, guys, we've got to do Call of Duty, but can we do this as a compromise? It's a little bit different, but it's still taking advantage of the brand you helped us build."
There's probably some of that there, and those guys are such pros that they're going to do a great job with it, but I can also guess that they probably want a little more.
I mean, they don't have the freedom we have. And what could they do if they did? Think about what Bungie did. Why did they do that? What does it take for them to be able to do that? What did they have to give up?
I find that amazing.
RP: It's a miracle, isn't it? And that's all creative, right? Because why would you do that? There must be something about that freedom, that liberty you have when you're independent.
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