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INTERVIEW: Popcorn Arcade

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: Popcorn Arcade
How successful would you say your initial releases on Wii have been?

We have surprised ourselves at how popular they are. On the Monday after a recent release I called Koch for some copies for reviewers and was surprised and delighted to be told that we were out of stock. We had to re-order after just three days.

Europe is taking all we can supply, and keen for more titles. We have now increased our sales forecast to 180 per cent of our initial forecasts, and we are pushing to get more titles out sooner to supply the demand.

Nintendo needs a variety of third-party titles on Wii to succeed – and we’re providing more than anyone else. Over the pond in America it’s a similar story with our publishing partners Destineer who have doubled their forecast. It’s great to be part of the success of the Wii and it looks like Champagne and Popcorn for us this Christmas.

Are you confident that this business model will last?

It is hard to think of a reason why not. We are offering proven game concepts – racing genres, arcade adventure and sports games – in a wide variety of multi-play options. These are family friendly titles, which is ideal for the Wii market and available at an affordable price which pleases everyone – retail and customers alike. Having the range enables satisfied customers to come back for more. This will be a long term steady seller, backed up with in-store displays and TV advertising, with new titles available throughout 2008. It is very sustainable.

The Popcorn Arcade range seems to be the first label to spot the ‘republishing/redeveloping’ potential of Wii. Would you agree?

Firstly I want to clarify the ‘re-developed’ status, unlike a few games coming from other publishers which are quick straight ports to the Wii. Our games really use the Wii hardware. The Nunchuck and Wii controllers are fully used. From sword swipes to throwing bombs, lifting to jumping and pointing to targets, these are definitely Wii products. Most of the titles were never released in the UK, but compared to our PS2 versions, the Wii titles have four times the texture detail, additional levels, more animations and more graphical effects. They contain significantly better content and quality.

We’ve had your first spate of games through. Are you now looking to sign more licences?

Just today we heard that our ninth Wii title had been approved, so we are well on track with our current titles. But a lot of my time has been spent arranging the 15 new Wii titles planned in the Popcorn Arcade range for release in 2008. With more competition expected next year these will mostly be licensed titles, well known children’s brands, with a few original titles we have created especially for the Wii.

Does Wii perhaps offer a market that cares less about whether a game comes from a ‘mega-publisher’ than its rivals?

I think the Wii market is quite different to the 360 or PS3. It is more suited to the casual gamer, rather than the hardcore players, and so the usual ‘mega-publisher’ brand is not as important to these customers. A couple of years ago when the mega-publishers used 100-man development teams that took taking five years on a title, we thought the opposite. After waiting – and saving up – for five years, casual gamers wanted quick, casual and fun games that everyone could afford. So while others made the mistake of neglecting the Wii, we chose to concentrate on it. Their loss was our gain.

Do you have plans to publish under the Popcorn Arcade label on different formats?

No. The Popcorn arcade brand is specific to the fast, friendly, affordable Wii.

Do you have any plans to launch further labels that can work alongside Popcorn Arcade?

The reason we can reliably produce this quantity of games is down to many years of work designing our GODS engine. This can be used to develop cross platform – and other formats will be coming.

In fact, our Wii development studio is already working on a couple of bigger projects. These will be full priced titles, and aimed at a different market.

These titles will go out under our Data Design Interactive name in the future. But at the moment Popcorn Arcade is instant pick-up-and-play fun at an affordable price – and  only for the Wii.

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