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Lighting The Ignition: Jumping From Niche to Triple-A?
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Lighting The Ignition: Jumping From Niche to Triple-A?

July 13, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

Right now, in terms of where Ignition's at, at least in North America, I see the peers of the company being companies like Atlus and XSEED -- in that range. But I get the impression that the aspirations are larger. Can you talk about that sort of motivation?

SB: Right now we are definitely competing for some of the same types of games that those two publishers are, just because their philosophies are in line with us. You know: action RPGs, Japanese-style games. But I think when you see, a year from now, the kind of games we're announcing, it's not on the level of those publishers. It's something they could never do.

RS: I think we've run past the aspiration part, because we wouldn't be at the aspiration stage if we were going to release what we are supposed to be releasing in 2010, you know? So I think we're about already a year and a half past the aspiration, from that perspective.

AC: And you can see that. I don't think they're making the type of IP or content that we're making. We are jumping to triple-A status.

RS: Yeah. It is the triple-A status, and a repertoire of not one, but more than one game. That's going to arouse the curiosity from that point. The combination of the passion of the team, the different geographies, and UTV coming together, is really the USP.

When it comes to geography, you're based in the UK, North America, and India.

RS: And Japan.

And you have some Japanese operations too.

RS: And east and west. I mean, the publishing office is here [in LA], but we've got something interesting in Florida, too.

So it seems to me that there's a lot of different potential... both opportunities, but also different strategies may be required. Do you have a global vision, or are there targets?

RS: Actually it's not a different strategy: the geographies have been driven by the talent pool, and the passion, and the geography of people came in with the original IPs and the creative team. So the strategy is the same in each of the studios, in all contexts.

SB: But I do think Ignition, in the last few years, is in the transition from being primarily a European publisher to seeing the U.S. as the lead market. I think that's across the board. Europe's still important, but the bleeding edge is here in the US.

It was founded originally in the UK. [Addressing Ajay] By you and your brother.

AC: That's correct, yeah. Originally me and Vijay. And I was shipped off to America.


I hope it's not too painful.

RS: The jury's still out. So.


SB: I think he's becoming an American. It's just a matter of time.

AC: I think we've realized how much of a key market this is; this is why I came over here. With the type of passion that drove the European team, I came out here to drive that same type of passion -- and you can tell by the team we've got.

You've got someone like Shane Bettenhausen coming across to Ignition, which is not well known. He's a big scoop for us. He's seen our vision, and I think that was probably one of the key things for him to say, "You know, I'm going to come over." To the dark side, people say, right?

SB: "The dark side", yeah, they call it.

Your old cohorts?

SB: Well, yeah. To make the transition from editorial to publisher side, it's... Normally you don't go back.

AC: He had 7,000 Twitter followers. Since he's moved to publishing, it's gone down to about four.


SB: No comment.

I don't know how much your strategy revolves around releasing games in India, but Sony has been marketing the PlayStation 2 and it has some indigenous development for original IPs for that market. Is that something that you're interested in too?

RS: I can't say we're not interested, because that's a base for us, but actually this is not an India play at all. If we had a first and foremost market, it's North America. Second would be Japan. Third would be Europe. India would be way past. It still has a ways to go there.

Is that Japan in terms of publishing, too?

RS: That's Japan in terms of publishing. As Ajay just said, North America is our deep focus.

AC: We've got three key territories to concentrate on. U.S. is probably the strongest at the moment; Japan is second; Europe is third. So, I think that's enough for us to handle.

SB: And the Japanese market is a unique situation, different than the either two. That's one that requires very careful calculation, to try to make a success with an enthusiast-based game in Japan.

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ray G
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Sounds like they have a couple of tigers by the tail.

Justin Leeper
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While Ignition is a company on the rise, it hasn't really sold anything yet. I'm also not convinced SNK fighting games and 2D Japanese Wii titles will push numbers -- as much as I may like and pull for them. Did OdinSphere do anything? I know it was sweet. How about SNK Playmore's KoF titles? Of course, King of Fighters XII is new.

I think Ignition has to be wary not to get too big too fast, especially with no income coming in. Atlus stays small by design, because that's how they make a profit off of their somewhat niche library. Look at what happened to Majesco when they tried to go big-time -- licensing Taxi Driver, Jaws, Aeon Flux, and putting big bucks behind Advent Rising. That all bit them in the butt pretty quick. Ignition is a company I want to see succeed, but it has to crawl before it can run.

Hayden Dawson
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Odin Sphere did more than well enough -- it even saw a Greatest Hits edition. The numbers niche games sell total are never going to compare to the mainstream, but what is important for such publishers is they find enough sales in a few titles to pay the bills while they keep their core fan base happy. KOF should benefit from the strong word attached to BlazBlue and the Odin Sphere crowd certainly knows about know thats gonna be a Play magazine cover in the next month or two.

Lux Pain was not the strongest localization (it appears it used an existing European translation), but it did release with the goodies its audience has come to expect from the likes of an Atlus or NIS. Muramasa is coming with the amazing scroll JP got and they've got a few other bullets in their hobbyist audience gun still coming.

Christopher Corbett
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Majesco is an interesting comparison, while I don't recall the history leading up to their growth I don't think it was like Ignition. Ignition has some money already. They're first pursuing credibility with the gaming/development communities before making some larger moves. I think Majesco just tried to buy their way to more money? Not only that but with a largely irrelevant idea of what would get them there?

Hayden Dawson
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@ Chris

Yes, Ignition does seem to have a better grasp on connecting with segments of the game buying community. Majesco I put more along the lines (even though they have been around SO much longer) of companies like Zoo, Destineer, Valcon or 505 whose catalogs are so full of shovelware crap that when they somehow get access to a title with some interest or quality not only do they not know how to market it, no one is bothering to look in their direction for product.

Christian Nutt
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Majesco now and Majesco then are quite different entities. It's an interesting comparison. I think that the main difference is going to be in the titles. While Psychonauts was an amazing game, Majesco had no idea how to market it (it was a challenge, to be sure) and Advent Rising, again, a challenge, and a not particularly great game on top of it.

I'm going to guess from what the guys said, and what I know of the Chadha brothers (and Shane!) that the games they have under development hew closer to the kind of stuff Ignition is becoming known for (e.g. Muramasa) but with a stab at broader appeal. It'll be interesting to see if they can spin that into broader commercial success, though.

I have very little doubt in Muramasa's likelihood to be a commercial success in the US.

Tom Newman
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I like the way these guys think. looking forward to their original IP's for sure!