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Tour of Chicago Pt. 5: Midway Chicago
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Tour of Chicago Pt. 5: Midway Chicago

December 27, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next


Which next-gen platforms will Midway pursue? “We’re going after everything. And that’s not unconsidered.” Bayless says, describing the big idea: “Let’s put things where it matters, let’s put things where it makes sense. Let’s try to get in all the spaces it does make sense.”

“But to be honest, I would be skeptical about putting an M-rated, unlicensed football game on certain platforms. That platform is aimed at an audience that isn’t interested – or if they are interested, their Moms and Dads won’t let them play it.”

“The same is true of Mortal Kombat. I’m not going to be a big fan of putting it on Nintendo DS. It would be hard for me to believe that’s a good idea. It might even be able to make some money, but it’s not a great use of our time.

“Our goal is to create great IP,” Bayless concludes. “And to project that IP wherever it makes sense. So are we excited about Wii? Yeah, actually, we are. You should see the proposals that are showing up in my inbox. It’s awesome.”

Although Midway’s IP is known for being M-rated, Bayless says: “There’s some stuff we’re looking at that will absolutely be T-rated. That doesn’t mean we won’t do M-rated stuff, too. It’s more about what’s right for the title.”

“There’s this huge temptation to iterate on what you’ve got,” says Bayless in response to new IP. “There’s a mantra I’ve been using that I think resonates with people at the corporate level. That we should be ‘innovating on the inside.’” What that really boils down to, says Bayless, is if you’re going to create IP, trawling for it on the outside is probably not in your best interest for a couple reasons.

“What you do is select against your best creatives,” says Bayless, warning that such a method will lead to boredom. “We’re in the process right now of cooking two or three concepts that probably will get some traction.” Bayless reveals.

Controlling the Wii

When asked about combining the kinetic specialties of Midway Chicago with the motion-sensing Nintendo Wii controller, Bayless responded:

“My experience at the [E3] show was, this—” Bayless makes broad, sweeping arm motions “—doesn’t work. Or it works kind of marginally. What did work was this—” Bayless makes controlled, tight motions. “I think that makes a pretty big impact on how you design your game.”

“The other thing all fighters live and die on is responsiveness,” he continues. “Right now, there are some profound questions about that controller and timing. But is it interesting? Is it an interesting problem? Heck yeah!”

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon mini-game Motor Kombat

Despite a Wii version of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon announced for spring of 2007, Bayless remains generally hesistant about bringing Mortal Kombat to a platform known to draw a young audience, adding, “Is there something else we might do with Mortal Kombat that could be appropriate for that audience? Maybe. We’re actually kicking some ideas around.” Does this mean Mortal Kombat for Kids? Bayless laughs. “We can’t tell you what they are, but they’re pretty cool.”

“We actually have some very concrete plans that we’re chewing on right now,” he concludes. “And we’re pretty serious about it, and you’ll probably hear about it next year, but we just can’t talk about it – as much as I’d like to.”

The Three Things

When Bayless first arrived at Midway, he pitched procedural changes to David Zucker and Matt Booty. They agreed. The process was based on something that Bayless and Alexander Seropian had lobbied for at Microsoft. It came down to three points.

-Know what you’re making before you make it.
-Don’t commit to a date before you know what you’re making.
-And be prepared to spend some money figuring it out.

Bayless firmly believes that you should spend a million dollars to investigate a game, to see what you have, and to protect an investment of ten or twenty million. “Do we set end dates? You’re damn right we do! But what we also do is drive toward a point where we understand what we’re making. And then reassess because we have good information. Up to that point, we don’t know.”

Bayless offers another key to success. “Not to get philosophical, I think Teddy Roosevelt had it right when someone asked him, ‘to what do you attribute your success?’ And he basically said, ‘I surround myself with people that are really good, and get the hell out of the way.’ Sweet. Works for me.”

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 6 Next

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