How significant is your new partnership with Reliance?
It is tremendous news for Codemasters. Any analysis you look at today talks about the growth economies in the world and point to markets such as India and China. And a partnership with a company as strong as Reliance gives us access to these markets, particularly India. I’d say we are better placed in emerging markets than companies far more substantial than ourselves.
We’ve been derided for having games such as Cricket, but it is the No.1 sport in the biggest market in the world. We have product that appeals worldwide, with Cricket, F1, Dance Factory and the back catalogue of Cannon Fodder, Megalomania and so forth.
On top of that, we believe that future content will be delivered digitally, so again our partnership with Reliance is a great opportunity. Reliance as a mobile network operator has 100 million subscribers, which we can make aware of our content. And through their subsideries Jump Games and Zapak, there’s a lot we can do.
So India is an important market for Codemasters?
If you measure it in terms of a console base, it’s not. But if you measure it in terms of online, then it absolutely is. We’ve been out there from an early stage, and have been in many emerging markets where we can compete.
Codemasters had a great end to 2009, but is it fair to say that things were still a little tough for you?
Not necessarily. When you are a company with a release schedule that focuses on five or six titles, you do tend to go through periods where you’re not as productive as you’d like. And when you are not prepared to compromise on quality you won’t publish titles prematurely. This is something we had to confront, and this partnership deals with that.
Video game stock doesn’t perform well in the financial markets and attracting investment is a challenge. It is no secret that we had to secure investment to sustain growth over the coming years.
So now that Codemasters is on safer financial footing, how are you looking to grow your business?
A traditional games publisher with a distribution infrastructure is no longer the model. It is the model of the dinosaurs.
We have done all the heavy lifting in that regard. We have positioned ourselves well for the future. We’ve focused on franchises that are proven. We have an online infrastructure that companies far bigger than ours haven’t got – which has been extremely beneficial in terms of the alignments with Reliance. And we are now addressing emerging markets.
I think all of those aspects are points other companies are yet to address.
Do you expect Reliance to take Codemasters properties, such as Cricket, and make them work in the mobile and casual spaces?
Yes, I do. When you entertain investment from external companies the discussion often centres on where the company goes in the future – so topics such as this have been touched on. Has it been tied down at this point? No it hasn’t. But I absolutely believe we will be working together in the mobile and online casual areas.
How else do you see Codemasters and Reliance working together?
Obviously we’ll work on growth, and growth has to be funded and I think they will be big supporters of that. I think they will open up emerging markets. They are intent on being a global player and we offer a turnkey operation in markets where they are looking for growth.
They are also a significant investor in Hollywood, particularly Dreamworks, so we are looking for collaboration within the whole group. This is a substantial company – the Reliance Group has a market capital of about $81 billion. So there are all sorts of opportunities in the mix, many of which I am probably completely unaware of at this stage.
How much of a say does Reliance Entertainment now have in the future of Codemasters?
They will have a big say because they own half the company. They are equal shareholding with Balderton Capital. Both of them will clearly have a say. One is a VC and the other is this conglomerate of activity around the world.
So this should make Codemasters a bigger worldwide force, too?
This secures the long-term future of the company. Staff of Codemasters can walk around with their heads held high, and no longer consider themselves this small unknown. Those that have sat in the fast lane to date, move over.