INTERVIEW: Mike Degler, BradyGames

Dominic Sacco
INTERVIEW: Mike Degler, BradyGames

BradyGames is closing the gap on the UK’s No.1 guide publisher by grabbing the rights to big titles like Grand Theft Auto V. Global strategy guide publisher Mike Degler tells MCV more…

Tell us about the strategy guide business. What’s your share of the UK market?

It basically boils down to two or three of us. Prima is our biggest competitor and Future Press is part of the market too. Prima probably has a larger percentage of the market than we do in the UK. We’re probably in the 40 per cent range and I’d say Prima is in the 50 per cent range, with FuturePress in the ten to 15 per cent range.

Do you see yourselves becoming the No.1 publisher in the future?

Well, here’s how the whole percentage thing works. It’s funny. I have a core group of licensing partners I’ve worked with for a very long time and Prima has a core group of licensing partners they’ve worked with for a long time. Then there’s a handful of titles that come out each year that we both scramble after to try and get. During the years where my core group of partners have really big releases, my percentage is usually bigger than Prima’s. Then when Prima has bigger games out, its percentage is greater.

I have Grand Theft Auto V signed. So when it finally comes out I know I’m going to have a really good year just because I’m going to sell out of strategy guides for it.

What other guides are you working on over the next year?

We have Diablo III, Max Payne 3, Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2 and BioShock Infinite to name a few.  We just secured a deal with Disney to do the next Kingdom Hearts title for 3DS. We recently released the Street Fighter X Tekken guide which is a really great fighting game guide. We actually use tournament-level players to help with the book and it has some killer strategies in it.

With consumers buying fewer, bigger games, are you just concentrating on triple-A titles?

About five years ago we published around 100 titles in one year. This year we’re set to publish around 60. There are titles we published guides for five years ago that saw fairly slow sales. Consumers really weren’t wanting to go out and buy a guide on a B or C level title. We’ve started to focus on our licensing side and our publishing side to make sure we’re targeting A and B level titles.

What kind of digital initiatives do you have?

We have three iOS ‘map apps’ we published last year – one for L.A. Noire, one for Dead Island and our most successful one: for Batman Arkham City. The latter sold around 22,000 copies which was really successful for us. 

On iBooks our parent company Dorling Kindersley has been putting its products into that format. They’ve given us a really awesome toolset to work with. In the next few months we’ll be the first strategy guide firm to launch a book in that format on iBooks.

We have e-guides available on our website and have partners like Valve who sell some of our guides online as well. We’ll have a website for the UK and Europe pretty soon. 

What kind of sell-through do you see for your printed guides?

The really successful guides can get anywhere into the 250,000 to 300,000 unit range worldwide. We’re targeting some titles to hit around the 30,000 to 40,000 range. 

So how do these figures compare to your e-guides?

They’re definitely not to the same level. Digital guides probably sell ten to 15 per cent of what we typically achieve with our print guides. But those numbers have dramatically increased over the past couple of years, up from single digits.

My ultimate digital goal is to have a site that’s an avatar world with strategy content in it. If people get stuck in games and look for content, I want to be the one providing it.

So could you rival IGN, GameFAQs and other big websites that offer consumers strategy content?

I would love to. We consider ourselves experts at what we do. The content we put out there is really good. I can go to any other website and find content but not at the level of what we’re creating. What I want is to get to a point where we’re rivalling other sites and we have a similar offering but on a higher scale.

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Tags: GAME , games , interview , strategy , video , mike , books , bradygames , degler , brady , guides , dorling kindersly

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