INTERVIEW: Nordic Games

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: Nordic Games

Why has Nordic Games chosen to focus on Wii?

We chose Wii because there was clearly a gap for its very own SingStar, and that’s what we’ve provided. Another consideration was the cost to produce a genuinely good quality game using only start-up money. Two years ago that wasn’t possible for PS3 or Xbox 360 – they already had their own first-party singing games.

Wii sales have been on the slide recently, do you expect the price cut to stimulate the console? And in-turn boost your titles?

It will help because Nintendo is placing more focus on the format within retail and inevitably there will be new Wii users to sell to. What the format really needs though is a little more belief – outside of Nintendo – that it’s far from dead. PS2 was a great lesson in how to manage the tail-end of a format but it seems that in some places the sexton has already been called-in, which is incredible.

Seeing as Wii now has such a mass-market price, are you anticipating a sales surge for music titles?

The explosion of singing and dancing games happened in 2008; now we’re seeing the mid-life of singing games. We anticipate the genre to comfortably last another 18 to 24 months or so. On Wii the dance genre reached much grander highs than singing so there will be some significant sales this year, but only for the very best or well-established dance titles such as our upcoming We Dance and Ubisoft’s Just Dance respectively.

Just how successful is the We Sing brand and what’s been key to this success?

We had a close run at the beginning with U-Sing, and both titles sold similar numbers and both were successful. Our success has come from our integrity, the continuing support of distribution across PAL and the ability to hold prices at a level which consumers are happy to pay.

Product is king and not just the licence, as we’ve learned. We also have the right people around us to keep the machine oiled. We’re a very tight team and even when you count all our production, development, PR and licensing partners, what I’d call the core team consists of less than 30 people. We Sing is now unquestionably the biggest product in its category and rightly so.

So what’s next for We Sing?

We Sing Deutsch Hits was released on May 26th – it’s a big deal in Germany so we’ll see how that has performed very soon. There are five more We Sing games which we expect to release over the next nine months. There will be a massive retail push from the beginning of Q4 which will incorporate past and future We Sing titles. We also intend to bring them out on a future platform.

Why wait until now to release games on formats other than the Wii?

Wii will be around for longer than most people think and we’re not afraid to stay with the format during its twilight years. Nintendo UK, Germany and Europe have all been very supportive of our efforts on their format so there’s every reason we should feel confident that whatever they do to promote Wii, Nordic Games will be involved. Naturally we have to think beyond one format and of course we are doing so.

What are your thoughts on digital downloads and DLC? Is this an area you would consider embracing?

It depends what formats you publish on and what consumer you’re aiming for. In our home country of Sweden broadband internet is now 120MB, whilst in parts of Europe you’re lucky if you can get dial up when it’s raining. That fact alone has significant implications.

To some people, DLC means essential game add-ons, to others it means free or stolen music. Right now we’re only asking ourselves: ‘Can we make any money from it?’ We will announce our first DLC initiative in a few weeks.

How has Nordic changed and progressed since it was established in 2008?

We’ve grown from two to six employees, our turnover has more than doubled, we’ve published localised versions of We Sing, signed a major UK music artist at his peak and established partnerships with major distributors throughout all of Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

So what is the next step for Nordic Games and your music brands? Is there an interest to make a move globally?

We want to take We Sing to new heights in PAL territories, to continue to be profitable and have fun doing so. Later this summer we’re opening our US office in New York.

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