You’ve been fairly quiet over the past year or so. What’s been happening at ZOO Digital?
I acquired ZOO Digital Publishing from ZOO Digital Group in April 2006 after almost five years with them. Further to that, Ian Stewart joined the company on November 1st 2006, with Adam Prichard making up the team in March this year. We also acquired most of the catalogue and some of the IPs at the time of the purchase.
Thankfully, in many ways the transition from being part of a Plc to a privately owned company has been totally seamless.
How does the ‘new’ ZOO Digital Publishing plan to tackle such a competitive marketplace?
As we always have done, we plan to continue to launch a wide selection of titles that cover most genres and SKUs, including many established brands. Coupled with the excellent margins that we are offering to retailers, we feel that we are in an excellent position to increase the company’s profile on the High Street.
What do you feel makes ZOO stand out from the rest of the UK publishing community?
Being one of the few privately-owned publishers in our industry makes us easy to work with; decisions are made quickly by the people you actually meet. We are able to offer a variety of titles and brands for all retail opportunities. For a small publishing house we have a high level of experience at a senior level who all understand the market and retail – even if we do now need zimmer frames to get to our meetings!
What is your product strategy? Do you have particular formats that you are concentrating your efforts on?
The strategy that we continue to support and follow is the Nintendo formats, first with GBA and now with DS and Wii. In our 2007-08 release schedule there are over 20 DS titles and eight Wii titles. Of course we also have titles on PS2, PC and PSP, but to a lesser degree. This is our focus for the moment and we do not envisage publishing on next generation formats in the near future.
Are you on the hunt for more product at the moment? Are you looking for licensed titles, or original IP?
We are always looking for titles to bolster the range and we are continually evaluating new products and opportunities that are presented to us – and this will not change. Something very exciting for ZOO is that we are looking to develop a number of our own IPs which will include the reintroduction of the Zool character from the ‘90s.
How many titles are you releasing this year, and will that figure grow next year?
As mentioned we have a really big line-up that takes us up to the end of March 2008. Included in this line-up is Premier Manager ‘08 on PS2 and PC which we believe will be even bigger than last year’s version. There have been a number of significant changes to the product and like last year’s version, we will be launching the title at the start of the football season and at a mid-price point.
What are the main challenges facing smaller publishers in an increasingly competitive market?
As always it is margin and shelf-space. We know we cannot compete with the larger publishers and so we have to find that niche market so we can get coverage at retail. We believe we have the products and genres that are commercially viable for the retailer and coupled with the margins we can – and have to – offer to retailers that we can continue to grow.
We just want to be given the chance with retail to prove this.