Campbell’s super

THQ’s former UK managing director has taken over the global marketing reigns at up-and-coming Polish games publisher City Interactive. Tim Ingham asks the questions…

What are the major differences between working for City Interactive and THQ?

Scale, really. The principles of business are the same for every publisher in this industry. If you manage to build the amount of inventory that you are capable of selling, invoice it at a good price and collect it all debt free, then you give yourself a fighting chance. I expect to be treated the same today as I was treated when I was at THQ; I’ve never asked for favours, just equality. That has been my mantra throughout my working life and remains true today. I do miss many of my colleagues at THQ but I do not miss the lunchtime walks in Woking avoiding the ‘extras’ from The Jeremy Kyle Show.

What formats are you currently focusing on – and why?

Our strength has been in budget/mid-price PC games, which are especially strong in Germany and Eastern Europe but we have now made our entry into the DS and Wii market too. We have high quality development talent for Nintendo and PC and feel that we have the right offering for today’s challenges in a very congested marketplace.

Will you be increasing your scope beyond PC and Nintendo platforms?

Yes. We hope to have some 360 titles out later this year and most certainly next year. We have some outstanding IP that is perfect for the 360.

Does being a smaller company make it easier or harder to survive the recession?
We are trading within our means and the aim is to have the correct people in place to exploit the market when we do come out the other end.

It’s never been about the number of staff you have, it’s about the quality of staff you have and that is our mission at all levels of the business.

What are your plans for expansion in the UK – both in terms of presence and physical site?
We have just signed a UK distribution deal with Trilogy, have a UK-based sales manager and I will probably look to employ a PR and marketing person to help us through our next phase.

So there’s no ivory tower, no fountains in reception and no Porches in the car park. We may look at another office down south but as I am spending much of my time on a plane, we have an office in Manchester, which I work from when in the UK. It does become difficult on a sunny day though with all that silverware at Old Trafford reflecting on my office window.

What kind of purchasing power does City Interactive have?

We are listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and are well funded. However, this does not mean that we are reckless in our spending and in the major decisions that we make. We are fortunate that the bourses in Poland and some Eastern European countries have proven to be more resilient to the current crisis than other countries. Perhaps Polish MPs do not submit duplicitous expense claims for Plasma TVs, the cleaning of their moat, or horse manure for the gardens of their second homes, and instead get down to prudent business practices.

Can you see the company acquiring studios, publishers and/or major licences over the next 12 months?
Even for a small publisher we are very much on the radar for major licence holders as they recognise that we have many employees with vast experience in handling major franchises.

Do you have any fear of the existing competition in the games space?
No publisher has a God given right to success in this industry and we should always be able to justify our proposition to retail and the consumer. We have to continually challenge our PR and marketing guys to give the sales team that edge when they see a retailer; that is the focus with City Interactive.

Can you become a world-leading publisher in the next few years?
Managing our expectations will keep our feet on the ground. We will grow sensibly and react to opportunities that will present themselves in the next few years. We have offices in Warsaw, Frankfurt, Manchester, Montpellier, Madrid and New York. With that infrastructure, plus our great distribution network, we have a global reach that satisfies our business needs for now.

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