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Evolving Disney: Graham Hopper Speaks
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Evolving Disney: Graham Hopper Speaks

January 15, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

THQ had some not-great financial recently, and a lot of the analysts are saying, "We've got to watch out, because their Pixar deal runs out in a couple of years." People are theorizing that it's going to be pulled back in. Obviously I have a feeling that you don't want to comment on that, but it's a situation that people are taking notice of, and they're wondering where the future goes with the licensing versus internal development.

GH: It's a long-term relationship with THQ, and that will continue. We work well together, and we like having them as a licensing partner for us. We have been growing a lot. We have a lot more growing to do. We can't do everything ourselves as a company. We create more content than we can actually develop for ourselves. For us, the possibility of being both a publisher and a licensor gives us, in my mind, the best of both worlds.

Certainly I think, not that you've suggested this, but I think that Kingdom Hearts is a fantastic example of Square Enix doing something with your characters that you couldn't do yourself. You couldn't replicate that, because it's got Square Enix's stamp all over it, but it still retains the Disney just as strongly. Obviously it would be, without my theorizing on the relationship, would be a great thing to continue in that vein.

GH: Yeah. I think it would be a sad day for gamers if there were to be no more Kingdom Hearts. We love the franchise, and Square Enix loves it, so we want to see it continue, and they have more games coming out.

Yeah. There were three at TGS, so there's definitely going to be more Kingdom Hearts.

GH: There's a lot of life left there. There's a lot of stories to tell.

I can't remember the DS game's title. It's so awesomely horrible. What is it... 365 days over two...? No, 358 days over two -- which is the subtitle. It's so incomprehensible, it's so great. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days.

GH: What I can tell you is, trust Nomura-san. He always delivers --

He delivered about half of the Square Enix Party, their big event in Japan last year. He delivered literally half of the games on show, I think were his responsibilities.

GH: He's a tremendous talent.

And as I understand it, he's a complete workaholic, so it's kind of a win-win for Square and him, because he doesn't have any interest in doing anything else anyway.

GH: Having been to dinner with Nomura-san at 11 PM at night in Tokyo is... we're jetlagged, so it works well for us.

That's nice. So getting back to your business, as you fleshed out from a licensor to a publisher, you started a more full-featured publisher. You started acquiring studios. Obviously Propaganda is that, and there are some other examples. Can you talk about that process, how you made those decisions and what acquisitions you made?

GH: Well, for us, up to pretty recently, our studios are our lifeblood. Our company's built in creativity in everything we do. Whenever we've strayed away from focusing on creativity, even to make money, it's never been a good end story for us. It's very clear in games, like everything else, creativity will drive what we do. The creativity from our internal studios is of vital importance.

So what we're doing is we're going out and trying to acquire studios that have a focus, and culturally fit with what we're trying to do, and focus on quality. It probably would be very easy for us to substantially increase the output of titles that we're putting out, whether it be through publishing or licensing, but that's not what we want to do.

We'd rather have fewer, really good titles out there. There are enough bad titles being made in the industry. We don't need to add to it. We want to add to the stock of great titles. Our internal studios are keen to that. So whether it be Propaganda, Avalanche, Fall Line, which is our Wii and DS-focused studio, or whether it be Black Rock, which is our racing game studio, or...

Which was Climax UK, right?

GH: Yeah, it was Climax Racing. Or whether there's Warren Spector's Junction Point. Each one of these are highly creative studios with a particular focus on what they're doing.


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