Could you give us a brief history on Foreign Media Games? What successes have you had in the past?
Founded back in 2001 as Easy Interactive, we started out as a re-publishing partner for the likes of Codemasters, Eidos, THQ, Vivendi, Activision and Take-Two. Within a very short span of time, we became the market leader in the Benelux region for budget price PC products.
In 2006, the company was sold to the Foreign Media Group, a group of media companies that were active in DVD, film, book and music publishing.
In 2008, we registered with Nintendo as a publisher on the DS platform and we closed a deal for two local licences. One title sold over 34,000 copies and ended up as one of the top three best-selling titles in Benelux. The other also did very well and was in the Top 10. These products were the first to be launched under the Foreign Media Games brand.
By the end of last year, FMG’s DS market share in the Benelux region ranged from between 13 and 17 per cent from August through October.
How will you attempt to recreate these triumphs in the UK?
The key to the success in any market is to have a good product portfolio, and to build and maintain that over a long timeframe.
In the Benelux market, FMG proved it could achieve a market share of over 15 per cent in less than a year of operating. Naturally, this was also due to our superb relationship with the key retailers that we have been working with for many years.
We feel that we have a strong portfolio that would work very well in the UK, so it is now paramount for us to establish good working relationships with the key retailers in the UK market.
We will support the retailers – just as in our home market – with highly creative marketing campaigns in order to generate long-term sales that will keep the products on the shelves for a longer period of time.
Also, should one of our titles not perform as well as we anticipated, we will take our responsibility and work towards a satisfactory solution with our retail partners.
Why did you choose the UK as your first direct-to-retail market outside of your home territory?
FMG always strives for close collaboration with retail. For that to work well, retail must be properly organised and in that sense, the Benelux and UK markets are very alike.
Furthermore, we need a sustainable casual market for our products. Again, the UK is very similar to our home market in that context.
What differences are there between the two markets?
There are two major differences between the Benelux and UK markets.
The most important one is that fact that the UK market is six to eight times larger. This means bigger investments and thus bigger risks in terms of stock numbers, marketing spends and so on.
Another difference is the fact that many supermarkets in the UK have non-food departments where games sell well. This is not so much the case in Benelux.
What challenges do you face in general as a new UK publisher?
Getting access and establishing good contacts with UK retailers is considered key to our success and is a top priority.
If we can prove that our products are great and that we are a good partner in every sense, we are confident that the retailers will embrace us.
Another challenge is to get the right marketing in place. Marketing easily eats away your communication budget and we owe it to ourselves as well as our partners that we make sure this money is spent effectively.
FMG is a major publisher on the Nintendo formats in Benelux. Will you still be aiming for this market in the UK, and if so why?
In the past year we have seen many of the bigger publishers reduce focus on the Nintendo platforms, especially DS.
Apparently the bigger firms have problems being successful on that platform.
We consider ourselves much more flexible due to our size and the way we are organised. And that may not be key, but will be part of our success.
And this also leads to more room on the market. There will be less products for us to compete against and the better quality products will be able to stand out more.
As far as the Wii is concerned, we are slightly more conservative. The numbers that we are able to sell for the Wii are not significantly higher than for DS, but the investment required is larger.
We will also be releasing more casual products on PC, allowing us to look into digital distribution and more.
Foreign Media Games has the ambition to achieve nothing less than what we did in our home market. We’re ambitious, but we are very serious about our plans and understand the challenges involved.
Some of our targets for the UK market are to become a Top 10 publisher for the DS, to have a DS and a Wii title in the top five of their respective charts, and to have five titles in Top 10 of GfK Chart-Track’s All Formats Charts.