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A Coalition Of Developers


March 17, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next
 

Something you said a minute ago -- you guys do a lot of work for hire, or you take on external projects for publishers; later you talked about how you do a variety of projects. Some are big, some are small, some are kids, and some are core gamer. Are your studios formulated that they have core competencies, and the studio will get projects of similar scope and platforms, and other things?

JG: Absolutely. Our studio in Boston, for example, is the place where we do an entertainment title, a value title... those two things. They would not work on a mature, core title. Of course, talented teams evolve over time, but we don't just shove things willy-nilly. It's very important as well to understand that we don't shove anything anywhere.

The studios have to accept something, so the corporate side of things can queue up opportunities. We can help them close opportunities, but the studio has to grab it and say, "I want to work on this." The team has to be interested in it.

Interestingly, what John Riccitiello talked about today has been our philosophy from the beginning. I think it's telling that it takes a long time for a big publisher to figure that out, but we were all developers ourselves, so as we acquired studios, we knew that intuitively that what studios want is autonomy, voice, and in many cases, may need help running business, giving me a chart, running finance, and doing those sorts of things.

But why would we buy them to change them? The reason we would buy somebody is because there's something there that we like, and that just seems very self-evident to me.

Well, some acquisitions that you've made are kind of special. A lot of people feel strongly about Sumo Digital, because of their work with Sega and the great job they've done revitalizing that classic Sega feel... they've kind of done Sega's job for them, in a certain sense, keeping the spirit alive. There's an interesting mix of studios.

JG: There definitely is. If you're saying gingerly that some studios are very self-sufficient, that's true. Some studios may need help in different areas. One of the goals is to help them, but not to force them to do something. For example, if there was a prospective team where we thought, "Well, this is just so broken that we'd really have to fix everything," we'd probably steer clear of that.

Konami's upcoming Silent Hill V

You'll have to forgive me if I misspeak myself here, but I would say that Foundation 9 has up to now been known, or more famous with gamers, with some of the online game work, as well as games like Death Jr. But it hasn't been known for big, ambitious games like Silent Hill V. Do you think that's changing? Is that something that you're moving into more?

JG: Well, we've got a few big-name game projects in-house, so this isn't a day-and-date, but it is a big project. I think that it's easier for us to do that now, because we've been able to consolidate some technology and put together bigger teams and some oversight processes like the quality initiative, and some other things going on that allow us to reliably deliver on those kinds of projects. And Silent Hill V [in development at F9-owned studio The Collective] looks great. The team down there is really making a beautiful product, and it sounds nice and spooky and it's eerie-looking.

So I guess to get to your original question, there will be some of that, but we don't have any self-loathing about some of the other projects we've worked on as well. One of the keys to Foundation 9 is a portfolio. We've got a portfolio of projects from big to little.

Some would be sexy to core gamers, and some wouldn't, but some are really exciting to mass-market players, and some aren't. That's kind of our ethos. Where people are playing, we'd like to be active, and we've got enough studios and talent with interest in those different areas to make games for them.

One thing that John Riccitiello was saying this morning was that ten years ago, you really only had to ship games on three platforms: the PS1, the N64, and the PC. Now they ship on 12, plus mobile. How are you guys struggling with it? Or rather, I don't want to put words in your mouth -- I'm not saying you're struggling with it.

JG: We're not. We haven't done mobile in a while, because as the budgets on even the smallest platforms grew, doing a couple hundred thousand mobile deal just didn't make sense. But on every other platform, we're not struggling at all, and as I mentioned, that's one of the core strategies, is through size, being able to handle that in a way that we couldn't do when we were all smaller.

It's important for people to remember that, again, we were all developers. This isn't some financial scheme that guys who were in the video game industry pulled together and started roping in some developers. These are people who were developers who realized that yeah, through size and scale, there's strength, security, and ability to invest in the future.

As that plays out on all these platforms, it means that we've got great DS technology, great PSP technology, and a couple of different great next-gen engines. We've got good rendering and good toolsets that we can bring to bear games that people are playing.

As long as there are enough units out there... there are tons of DSes out there, right? Okay. We're happy that market exists, and it looks like there's a little uptake in PSP. That's great, and we're happy about that. That's all good, from our standpoint.

 


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