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Q&A: Exigent's Steed On Why 'Mobile & PC Are The Future'

Q&A: Exigent's Steed On Why 'Mobile & PC Are The Future'

April 17, 2007 | By Ishaan Sahdev

April 17, 2007 | By Ishaan Sahdev
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More: Console/PC

What's famed Quake artist Paul Steed up to nowadays? Working as Chief Creative Officer at Indian game outsourcing firm Exigent, it turns out, and he spoke to Gamasutra about educating Indians on making games for Western markets, and why "...the future of gaming is really mobile games and PC games."

When we last spoke to Steed, he was working as Creative Director at Atari, but in late 2006 he signed up with Exigent, which is based in Noida, India. The company has titles such as Quake IV and the NFL GameDay series on its resume, and is already working on art for several next-gen titles.

Thus, here are some key points, from Steed's point of view, on what he's doing and the future of outsourcing and the game biz:

What he's doing for Exigent, and how he started

"Im based in the States. I left Atari in September. Now, heres the thing: While I was at Atari, I would meet people like me [now] who worked at outsourcing companies, and when I had to ask them a question, a lot of the time, they wouldnt be able to answer it, and Id be like, Why cant they answer my questions? Why am I not speaking to someone like me? They had a ton of problems with inconsistency and stuff.

Later, my partners spoke to me and said that they had infrastructure in India, so I met with a few folks in June and I was blown away by how dedicated you folks are to gaming. Now, were an outsourcing company. We hire people who love games. If you dont love games, you cant work here...

But to answer your question, gaming is new to India. So, we have to teach Indians how to make games for an American audience. And its complicated because what makes good Indian art doesnt make a good American game. Theres this cultural difference. So, our focus is to teach our staff about these cultural differences. Our ultimate goal is to have a game made by Indians that Americans buy. Its sad, but most games are made either in America or in Europe."

What he thinks of the future of the game biz

The future of gaming is really mobile games and PC games. Theres more computers in the world, theres more cell phones in the world than there are consoles and thatll never change. Indias interesting because the governments really supporting broadband users. So by 2010, theres going to be 20 million people with broadband. For me, the future is the global market, not the U.S. market...

You know, some day in the future, were going to go from Exigent to Exigent Interactive. And when that day comes, were going to be focusing solely on PC games. Thats whats most accessible for audiences. You know, people talk about making the perfect game, but is there a perfect platform? What if you had the perfect game on the wrong platform? How many people wish they could take those SNES games and put them on your cell phone?"

Exigent's positioning and attitude

"The difference between us and other companies is, were an outsourcing company thats trying to beat China. Chinas the country with the largest outsourcing, so its our main competition. And most importantly, my goal is to make a company that people go to because were good, not because were in India. So, we focus on training and hiring the right people with the right attitude. Its all about the attitude.

The reason Im in India is theres this growth in India and China. A lot of analysts believe that India and China will be the top economies in the next five years. I mean, think about it. Theres more English speakers in China than there are in the U.S. because of their population.

Regarding Sony's issues with the PSP

"In my opinion, what happened was that Sony just lost focus. They tried to do too much with it. And God, the price. You look at the PSP and youre like, Hey, do you even realize your portable costs as much as Nintendos next-gen home system?

You have iPods for media and you have the DS for games. Why would you want a PSP? Dedicated devices are always better than all-purpose devices. The PSP was all set to kick the DSs ass. And it would have, had Nintendo not released their tech demo of Nintendogs. No one knew what to do with two screens and a touchscreen before Nintendogs showed them."

Steed's outspoken attitude to casual games

"Well, you gotta understand, the casual gamer is like, 44-year old housewives who dont want to pay for anything. So how do you market a game to a 44-year old housewife who doesnt want to buy it? A real casual game is at a mall, where youre just hangin out, you know? And for years, my friends been going, Lets do the mall game and get all the girl gamers!

And Im like, Number 1. Do you really want to ask your girlfriend if you can play on her PlayStation 2? You dont want your girlfriend on your Wii. I dont want my wife or girlfriend gaming. I want her to go shopping. In the real world. You know, leave me with my games!"

On the prevalence of and attitudes to piracy

"My take on piracy is kind of weird. I know I cant stop it, so I dont try to stop it. I just try to create a whole fanbase. If you can buy it, buy it. I was in China and I saw a copy of my book ... my first book, translated in Chinese and it had my name on it, and I was like, Well, at least they put my name on it! I dont think people mean to steal when they pirate your stuff. I just dont think they realize that it only increases the price."

[Article author Ishaan Sahdev has published the full interview with Paul Steed and a separate interview with VP of production Jesse Rapczak on his Flame War Advance weblog, for those interested in reading more.]

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