Stefan Berger, head of business development at UIG, tells MCV about the state of the simulation genre, the company’s shift from PC to consoles and its distribution partnership with Austrian publisher Toplitz Productions.
Can you tell us a bit more about UIG for those who are unfamiliar with your work?
United Independent Entertainment (UIG) is a German-based distributor, publisher and developer founded in 2005. After a long time successfully publishing and developing PC games, we decided to start creating our own games for multiplatform release. For more than a year now we’ve been releasing games for console and PC and are happy to say that our new distribution strategy works out very well.
UIG owns many successful brands like the internationally beloved Giant brand, most recently seen in Industry Giant 2, as well as Realms of Arkania, which is very well known since the 90s.
We are also specialised in releasing simulator games to the worldwide market – Professional Farmer, or the Agricultural Simulator, sold more than 500,000 units just on PC alone. The key for us is to develop good quality games and release them for a fair price, on all platforms.
You’ve been focusing more and more on multiplatform releases – what was the thinking behind this shift in strategy?
There are a lot of gamers around the world who are looking for new good content for various genres. We are aware that we are focusing on a niche market when developing our simulation games for consoles but there is still a market for those games.
They are very family friendly, non-violent and offer good quality gameplay and graphics. The fair price point strategy, combined with the niche topics, sold very successfully. Now that we’ve gained experience in releasing games on console, we are planning to release games in other genres too.
"Professional Farmer, or the Agricultural Simulator, sold more than 500,000 units just on PC alone. The key for us is to develop good quality games and release them for a fair price, on all platforms"
Would you say that PC games are still UIG’s main activity?
We deliver on all platforms. PC is still part of our strategy but our focus lies for sure on the various console platforms. So I would say we still work on our solid PC business but are extending the console business every day. So in the next few months a lot of new console games will hit stores.
How would you assess the current state of the simulation genre?
This market is still a strong niche yet it offers a huge potential to us as a publisher to meet the growing expectations of the community. Simulator fans are very loyal and they are a very active community. If they like your games, they will stay with you and play as long as their expectations are satisfied. There are such a lot of different topics we are working on for sims on PC and console currently. So we offer new settings, topics and gameplay to our fans.
But next to the standard simulation games we are more than proud to be the distributor for our new partner Toplitz Productions. They are working on an amazing and unique mix of driving simulation and life simulation with Farmer’s Dynasty (pictured left). It offers a totally new gaming experience.
The player takes over the role of a young man who inherits a farm from his grandpa in a very poor shape. It’s his challenge to build it up, repair things, build up social connections to the neighbours, find a wife and start a family life and, of course, take care of the fields, animals and crops to earn money. An amazing concept, which offers more than any other simulation.
Can you tell us a bit more about how this partnership with Toplitz came to be and what we can expect from it?
Toplitz Productions is a new publisher based in Austria, in Irdning. It focuses on the creation of games with “heart and soul” and are working on some amazing products such as Farmer’s Dynasty and a family game called My little Riding Champion as well as an amazing simulation series called City Patrol, in which the player takes on the role of a police officer and has to banish crime from the city streets. High quality graphics and long-term fun promise a huge success for this brand as well. We are very proud to be their exclusive retail partner and are convinced that these unique products will do very well in worldwide retail stores.
What are your expectations for Q4 and Christmas?
Well, this is the first Christmas period in which we have a lot of console products out in stores, so it’s very exciting for us to see the products on the shelves of international retailers. In some territories we are placing our products directly into stores, in others we are working with very experienced partners like CentreSoft in the UK. This cooperation makes us certain that our products are placed perfectly and will be noticed by the target group. We expect a strong Q4 at retail and are convinced that our quality/price policy will work out very well worldwide.
What are your ambitions in the long run?
We are enforcing our multiplatform strategy for PS4 and Xbox One and will start on games for Switch. There are a lot of new concepts coming up, which we are working on currently, and we are convinced about the success of our strategy. We will definitely focus on the simulation genre but plan to develop and publish different games and different genres. The key for us is to keep an attractive price point, which makes our brands and games unique in the console market.