A Coalition Of Developers
March 17, 2008 Page 2 of 6
Taking a step back, what does
"quality" mean in this context, and how do you assess it?
JG: There are a few things. We're really looking at like quality, so for particular games, like a little kids' Hamtaro game, we're comparing that to like games.
For Silent Hill, we're
comparing that to like games, given whatever parameters there are. There's
quality metrics that come in from the reviewer press, there's which
games sell really well, we look at that metric, and then we look at
other things like the budget and timeframe and those things.
So when you've got a basket of 60 projects, you can actually do some true comparisons. So we can't compare a $15 million project to a $30 million project, but we can compare a couple of $15 million projects with similar timeframes with each other and say, "Look, this is where we should've done something differently.
We should've changed the scope in this way, and we should've done this feature better." Those things. We try to get very analytical about it.
Is quality of life part of that too, for developers?
JG: No, it's not [part of] Total Quality management. That is part of our HR function. As most people who know me know, I used to be a fairly sarcastic guy, but I've come on board with a large organization, and we've got some core values, and our top core value is taking care of people. For us, that means employees, shareholders, publishers, and everybody we're dealing with. So quality of life for employees is important.
To tie it together, one of the things that's important to our employees is success. They want to know that they're working on something that they're going to feel good about in the end. For a lot of them, they're getting to a place where they have kids and other things going on, and they want to know that they've got a reasonable career, and not just a fire drill.
You have a lot of studios in geographically diverse locations. Does managing that, or maintaining that base present a challenge?
JG: That's what I've done my entire career, and I think a lot of our key leaders have as well. So I think challenging, yes, but it's a competitive advantage, because we've had to figure out how to do that for well over a decade.
Some of your developers are known for their Xbox Live Arcade projects, whether it's classic games, or obviously Street Fighter is a big example of a highly anticipated download game that one of your studios is working on. But there's a little bit of a fear coming right now, where people feel like it's less possible to have a standout hit in Xbox Live Arcade the way you could a year ago, because there's more on the market. Do you guys perceive it that way?
JG: The way I look at it that gets me excited is that... I can't remember what the last figures are, but by the end of this year, there's 18 million units out there, of which I don't know how many will be Xbox Live Arcade-ready. So maybe it will be a standout hit.
We'll hit harder because it will be more noise, but I think to reach a level where a game can be successful, both in terms of reaching a big audience and making money will be more and more achievable as people buy these consoles.
Now, the PlayStation Network is still a little bit nascent. But it's viable, too, and Street Fighter is going to both networks. How do you view the rise of that as well?
JG: It's great. From our standpoint, we don't like to pick horses, and the more viable platforms there are, that plays into our business. Remember, we're a broad-based developer that does everything from handheld to next-gen.
We still do last-gen stuff, PC stuff, little kids' stuff, and mature stuff. So that's something we welcome, particularly with the changing revenue model with Xbox. It's exciting for us when there's a viable PSN or a viable WiiWare. We like that.
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