james brooksby, absolutely games

“Anyone who says they know what this industry will be like in 2-3 years… listen, but don’t bet on it.” – James Brooksby, Absolutely Games

Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month we talk to James Brooksby, CEO of Absolutely Games

Absolutely Games is your new studio, what can you tell us about your ambitions for it?

Absolutely Games will be a culmination of many years of learning in this great industry, not just from me, but from the team and partners I am forming. There will be a laser-sharp focus on making smart and great games and we will be reducing any roadblocks that prevent us from getting there, by simplifying elements like internal bureaucracy, office politics and any other invented distractions. Instead we will be putting our energies into building games in a great environment that remains fun. For this there will be a formed and agreed upon culture and values that will be a backbone as the company grows.

You’ve had a long career, with the usual acquisitions and spin-off ventures. Are things more stable today?

Hah! This industry is a rollercoaster, and it is still so young, but on average it has always been on-the-up. I am not sure I want it to be that sensible, and I am not sure it would do us good to be all grown up and sensible, like a aged bank – no, we should embrace and accept that we are a cutting edge entertainment medium at the whim of tastes and technology, where the future is very hard to predict, but also serves us very well. Anyone who says they know what this industry will be like in 2-3 years… listen, but don’t bet on it.

With the greatest respect to your current role, what is your dream job?

I can, hand-on-heart, say that I am doing it. I once wanted to be a pilot, then trained to be an electronic engineer, but I always remembered the fun of making and playing games with my brother in the 80’s and then at uni, I discovered I was good at 3D art. Today I have the privilege of working with great people, in the team and as friends, partners and contacts all over the industry. I am making games to allow players to be entertained and ultimately escape into and hopefully become their hobby – what else would I ever want?

What are the biggest challenges today in the industry?

One of the biggest is discoverability. It’s due to our own successes, but there are so many games and only so many platforms. With that many people making really good games, some are likely to have their dreams dashed as nobody sees their game. They may give up on something great, potentially even leaving the industry. I was very lucky to be early on with digital distribution on Steam, PSN, XBLA, Apple as Doublesix and Born Ready games, but things have changed a great deal since those early pioneering days. From a games publishing standpoint, I think we are likely to see a swing back to medium-to-large publishers who have more clout.

What did you learn from launching and running the free-to-play Fractured Space?

An incredible amount of things, far too many for this short space, and detail and context is required for all of them. One of the biggest, personally, was learning that live, free-to-play games are an incredible mixture of science, psychology and game design – every single day. I am very proud of what we did, not only did we have a very highly rated (maxed out at 91 per cent on Steam) game, and a loyal audience, but we built a fantastic team.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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