You’ve been very honest in killing off 14 titles because of a perceived poor return on investment. How is being a ‘slimmer’ company in this respect going to work to your advantage in the market?
We want to be a leaner and fitter company in terms of what we do and what we release. In these situations you have to be honest, both internally and externally, and that is why we cancelled 14 titles. As a company we have been bringing out too many average games which are tying up resources. In today’s environment of lengthening development cycles and increasing costs, we need to be more ruthless and focus on our quality titles.
What does ‘studio-led’ mean on a day-to-day, operational basis and also in a wider sense. Is SCi now more comfortable thinking of itself as ‘a game developer’ rather than ‘a games publisher with development interests’?
‘Studio-led’ means that operationally we will be moving some of today’s key publishing responsibilities such as brand, PR and marketing, into our key development studios. This gives us a focused team based around our cornerstone franchises, working from the same office and seeing the same code at the same time.
‘Studio-led’ to me means highly focused with the ability to make every opportunity happen – in this way, our studios are not only working on high quality games, but on delivering a high quality game campaign as well, all under one roof.
Do we feel more comfortable thinking of ourselves as a game developer? To be honest ‘developer’ and ‘publisher’ are not always the most consistently understood of labels. We feel most comfortable thinking of ourselves as responsible for creating, managing and exploiting some of the world’s leading video game properties.
You’re taking advantage of the economic climate in Montreal by relocating QA and localisation – would you consider moving any more UK-based development operations there?
We will consider anything which makes business sense to the company. We’re a UK-based company with a great history in the country, but you have to remember that essentially we are an international business. Our decision to move certain functions out of the United Kingdom was driven by the sense it made for our business, underpinned by the economic advantages offered by the Montreal government.
Are you confident that Eidos can be truly world-leading again?
Absolutely. We have some rich franchises and we are making some incredible games and game technology. But now we need to focus on getting on track; we are taking the steps which I fully believe will make Eidos world-leading again.
Yours has been a relatively sudden ascent to CEO. Do you feel this helps give you a freshness for the role – because it ensures that you haven’t been too indoctrinated in the traditional way of thinking at SCi? Has this helped you be more ruthless in your job?
It’s true that I have been able to look at the company with fresh eyes, I have also benefitted from having an excellent team in the business to work with. I’m pleased that my vision for the business was shared so quickly and absolutely. There’s a promising future here.
In the wake of Jane Cavanagh’s departure, many of the nationals were all-too keen to pin it on a ‘misguided’ strategy regarding Nintendo’s Wii – mainly down to the fact that Eidos didn’t get in there early enough. How can you rectify this problem on such a high-performing system?
We have had good success with Tomb Raider Anniversary on the Wii and we have plenty of top quality Wii products coming so that isn’t a concern to me. But again it all comes back to quality. There is no point bringing out Wii titles which are average or below; we need to make sure that our offerings on Wii have good, solid and fun gameplay.
Are you concerned about the effect that the time between now and the release of your major franchises at Christmas will have on the confidence of some of your investors?
I’m not concerned. Investors in video games understand that the lifecycle and the development periods in between a successful title release. We need to make sure that our major franchises are fantastic entertainment. That’s our focus above all else at the moment.
Do you feel there is anything missing from Eidos’ new product portfolio? If so, how can you address this problem?
We have a full complement; we have fantastic franchises, next-gen titles, Wii and DS titles, casual and mobile games and we are developing some incredible game technology. That said, we are always on the lookout for great property, from casual to next-gen titles and for distribution titles for our territory distribution offices. If the property is right, we are ready to talk.