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'No Bullshit': The Management Style Behind Deus Ex: HR's Success
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'No Bullshit': The Management Style Behind Deus Ex: HR's Success

April 9, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

Are you worried about creative stagnation in triple-A games as people become more risk-averse?

SD: That's a good point. I think that three, four years ago, everybody was saying "Are the consumers going to always buy sequels?" It's something they know of, and they extremely trust, and we were starting to be afraid of seeing the stagnation of ideas and new IPs. And the buzzword I remember at EA three, four years, is a "we need to spit out three new IPs per year" kind of thing. It was a buzzword.

I think people now understand... In our case, maybe we haven't produced new IPs, but a major relaunch of a title like Deus Ex and Thief, we considered it almost like a new IP, certainly in the effort. So we bring back something from the cult classics.

This is maybe not considered new IP, but it brings a new flavor. Games are more and more sophisticated; it's less based on one or two mechanics. I think this replaces the necessity of having new IPs. The buzzword of "new IP, new IP, new IP," I have heard less, because the sequels are selling so well these days. Last year I think was the year of the threes: Deus Ex 3, Gears 3...

Modern Warfare 3.

SD: Modern Warfare 3, and Mass Effect 3, and Assassin's [Creed] III and Far Cry 3. So that's a good question, I think. Innovation and ideas are important, but if you're able to bring forward an existing IP to bring new types of experiences, I think people will buy them, because they know they can relate to a franchise they've played before.

And they say, "Well, if they bring something a little bit good and new," it's a little bit easier for them to cross this bridge. But obviously to have a regular new IP within a group of publishers is always important, but it's tough.

And new IP isn't the only way to introduce new ideas into franchises, either. I think that's what you were trying to do with Deus Ex, to some extent.

SD: Yep.

Is that where you look for creative opportunities?

SD: Yeah. Well, especially, if we concentrate on our two first games, we need to bring these classics into a new light, so people can be attracted to try them again. And it's certainly quite a challenge. So yes -- more of the same, I think people will hit a wall, if they do that. More of the same in any industry might seem attractive, because you reduce costs, and you just have a lower breakeven, but that is a short-term vision, and Square, I must say, has a very long-term vision for management of IPs.

Does the Square management and vision come from Tokyo? Does it come from Europe?

SD: People are really curious to see. The question that is often asked [is] "Have you seen a change since Square Enix [acquired Eidos]?" The honest truth of that is they realize that by taking us under their wing, they knew that we were doing a lot of good stuff, so they fully respected [that]. It's a partnership, more than a father and a son kind of relationship, so they let us really do our stuff. They don't intervene at a micro level, and I report directly to Phil Rogers, who's the CEO of Square Enix Europe.

I would say my day-to-day relationship between both headquarters is maybe 90 percent with Phil, and sometimes with Tokyo. But Phil really takes care of the interface of the information of the studios back to Tokyo. It's a good way to do things, because regular feedback comes through the same person. And Phil totally understands our reality, so for me, it makes my job a little bit easier. Maybe a little bit more reporting, but that's expected.

So they really respected us, and in the first year, just to show you how courteous they were, I think every month we had visitors from Tokyo coming to see an exchange on the tech side, HR, IT, creative, so at least they were really sincere in sharing, and to learn more, [rather] than "You do this, you do that."

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