Star Quality

Ben Parfitt
Star Quality

As a relatively new company in the UK market, how do you feel you have progressed since the company was formed in 2004?

I think we’ve reached the point of maturity – we’ve now got a regular flow of decent products, which get decent marks and they are selling well and in Harvest Moon’s case selling unbelievably well.

In the last year to eight months Codemasters has represented us in the UK as a distributor to go into retail and sell. We use Codemasters because of the their considerable expertise and knowledge of the UK market and they’ve been really good at it, but we’ve reached a certain point in our evolution where we have to start punching at a certain weight, and we’ve got the catalogue, resources and experience to do that.

There is a point where we have to do our own thing – we are looking at a different approach to the UK market.

The biggest news to come out of Rising Star of late is the Hudson Soft deal – just how significant is this deal for the company?

What’s really pleasing is that they’ve looked at what we’ve done so far and decided to join us based on that. We’ve got fifteen titles from Hudson across DS, PSP and Wii – the Hudson deal is great news for us. A partnership like this takes us to another level. Now we have to step up to that level and I really think we can do it.

Does the deal mean you are looking to further expand your operations and product portfolio?

We’re looking to take on three more people quite quckly, with another sales person and producer in Autumn. We’ll be at 12 to 15 people fairly quickly, and expand our offices as well. We are also looking to acquire more products and we have been offered a lot more products from Japan because of what we’ve set up – suddenly Japanese developers and publishers see that there’s a route to the European market. I think the ideology of the company remains that we publish Japanese and Japanese-style products for the moment.

That’s key to the DNA of the company, that we’re known for bringing the best Japanese games over to European markets.

Which formats are you looking to concentrate upon for your forthcoming products?

We’re Nintendo fans all the way through the company because of the Bergsala connection, and in Japan Marvelous are very close to Nintendo. Rising Star is supported a lot by Nintendo of Europe – so we are primarily DS and Wii alongside some PSP product. We also have next-gen in development, so in Autumn 2008 we will have a PS3 title which will be shown at the Tokyo Game Show.

What do you feel are the main challenges that face smaller publishers trying to compete against giants like EA?

We are small company in size here, but we are part of a far larger operation. There are 300 people sitting in Japan in research and development and all the affiliated companies. If you could put it all together in one place it’d be a vast company.

But the fact of life for smaller publishers is that it is difficult to get noticed among the big players – the week we broke into the charts with Harvest Moon it was us and 505 Games up against these other huge companies. It is hard for a publisher to get going in this business – I’ve seen some small companies get big or get acquired in the past but the scale of investment and the business practices of today make it difficult.

But we’re lean and mean, and we can move our business model quickly and upscale to deal with new partnerships.

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