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OPINION: Fresh blood for big media

Ben Parfitt
OPINION: Fresh blood for big media

MTV Games has until now been a  confusing games firm.
It’s not quite a fully-fledged publisher. EA looks after its distribution and sales.

But it’s not ‘just’ a developer. While its biggest games gesture has been to pay almost $200m for US studio Harmonix, MTV Games’ tendrils dig deep into entertainment parent Viacom’s marketing muscle.

News that it plans to open a UK-based sales office for Europe prove once and for all that it wants to be taken seriously as a publishing force.

And MTV Games understands that to do so it doesn’t just have to address the challenging ‘razor and blades’ model its music game heartland is built upon. No, it first and foremost needs a local team to oversee its interests – hence the appointment of Roy Campbell as VP for international.

MTV Games’ boss Guthrie is right to say the UK is the world’s toughest software market. It’s hard not to disagree after the middling success of dad-pleaser The Beatles: Rock Band. If you can’t succeed when relying on one of GB’s biggest exports, then clearly you’re doing it wrong. Our market here needs the right treatment, or you just shouldn’t bother.

It’s clear that while the games industry might be attracting the attentions of global media giants like MTV, there’s still no substitute for local talent.

The same thing is going on at IGN UK, which we revealed today has signed up digital guru Ian Chambers as its new MD.

He should help bring strong leadership to a clutch of diverse interests – from editorial to digital distribution and middleware – that are sick of being seen as ‘just a media company’.

You can hardly blame them. To many, ‘IGN’ just means screenshot galleries and 8/10 reviews. But in fact IGN Entertainment’s offer includes a set of niche and territory-specific editorial sites plus things like Direct2Drive (digital distribution), FilePlanet (free downloads) and GameSpy (multiplayer middleware).

Although grown together over time via acquisition and expansion, it’s an impressive array of services that touches most parts of the games industry, from consumer to developer.

Say what you want about corporate daddy Murdoch – the evil Gepetto behind some mass-media assumptions that last week’s election would be easily won – but the NewsCorps-owned games properties are a formidable bunch.

Pushing a message out to remind people of that makes sense. And it’ll be interesting to hear how the otherwise online-heavy IGN plans to make itself known at retail level.

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Tags: games , mcv , ign , video , mtv , campbell , chambers

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