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Expanding Empire

Ben Parfitt
Expanding Empire
What have been the primary goals for the Empire team since the Silverstar deal?

From a company and corporate perspective, it’s really about delivering good results after the acquisition. It’s great that the market has responded favourably – our share price literally doubled on the day the announcement went out, which is pretty dramatic stuff. It will certainly help to drive the business forward.

It comes off the back of closing nine million dollars’ worth of fundraising to build the business through content, acquisition and the development of a product pipeline. The movement in the share price gives us extra strength to raise money in the future and acquire businesses going forward. That’s something we see very much as a platform to get out there and build the business upon.

Is there any particular business you have your eye on?

It could be a developer, it could be a publisher – if it’s a good fit in our organisation and it comes with a product pipeline then it’s either/or really. I think the way the market’s polarised there is a big gap between the smaller companies and the big boys and I think there’s an opportunity for us to fill that gap and make some progress in building the business. It depends really on who the company is and how it fits.

It is about looking at gaps in the marketplace and working out if there’s a space for that game. I think that was the case with FlatOut, as it brought strong physics to the genre. So if we can find something that brings something new to the market – it doesn’t have to be a particular genre, as long as it is unique.

Which titles do you feel are key to Empire’s success over the course of the next few months?

Off the back of FlatOut we are coming up to the Jackass launch which is shaping up very well for Christmas. We’ve got Animal Paradise on DS which is also shaping up to sell very well. So it’s really about building up pipeline for next year. We’ve got some new signings that we haven’t announced yet but we will be anouncing shortly. So it’s a good time for the business.

And what about your overall product strategy – are there any particular formats you are focusing on at the moment?

The main thing is to develop product and build franchises and obviously there’s a lot of new platforms out there – more than we’ve ever had before – so we’re really just looking to build franchises and take them across as many platforms as we can. We have our first DS and Wii titles coming through so we’re going to be on six platforms – it’s a broad base of product and that is something to build on.

Are you recruiting in order to raise your presence in the market?

We’re driving the sales side of things with people coming here in the UK and setting up the sales operation in the US, so we’re looking to drive the business both from a product and sales perspective. We will take people on where necessary but now that we’ve got the infrastructure there for bigger and better products it is solid ground to build on. It’s a case of upwards and onwards – it’s an excting time really.

The Jackass licence appears to be a new direction for Empire – are you looking to compete with other publisher for licensed product?

There are some very big companies out there and if they want to go in and acquire something then they go in and do it. For us it’s a question of finding areas that people haven’t looked at and bringing something to market that will resonate with gamers, whether it is from a techincal perspective or a licence perspective.

We’re certainly looking at some licences at the moment and we’ll be able to tell you about them very soon.

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