We catch up with Dovetail Games CEO Paul Jackson and COO Jon Rissik to find out about its recent investment, its plans for the Dovetail Live platform and the state of the simulation market.
You recently secured a multi-million pound investment from UK finance house Alcuin Capital Partners. What do you plan to use this money for?
Jon Rissik (pictured, right), COO: We build simulation products but we think about them more in terms of hobbies than games. Our customers tend to stay with us for multi-year periods. They're deeply invested in what they do. They don't play other products; they're not playing Train Simulator one day and then Call of Duty the next. They tend to stick with what they know. We think about it as being quite different from games. We know we are in the games space, we know we are positioning ourselves alongside games in many environments, and that's something we're looking to change.
With the investment we have secured, we are looking to build something called Dovetail Live, which is going to be a digital centre for all things hobby.
Whether that's a place where you can access simulation, where you can customise content and share it. A place where you can gather tips and tricks, a place where you can support the journey from novice to expert.
It's going to deliver everything our consumers do inside and out of games. It'll be a place to access the software, but also the ancillary place where everything you do around the hobby that isn't directly playing the software sits.
What is your ambition for Dovetail Live?
Rissik: Our long term vision is to build an army of enthusiasts that we can service. We think about it as a platform that we can keep engaged. We know that core simulation experience is only the tip of the spear. It's one element of the hobby. Dovetail Live will help us facilitate the other elements of that.
How would you assess the state of the simulation market right now?
Paul Jackson (pictured, top far right), CEO: It's in an interesting place. There are a few titles, perhaps five to seven, that do it very well. Then there are a sea of other simulation titles in there somewhere.
By that I mean very much the sort of simulations that we do, like Flight Simulator and Train Simulator, and other things like EuroTruck Simulator. There are fabulous products out there.
Then there are a lot of other smaller products that fulfil an interesting niche, but can't get enough money spent on them, they're not big enough niches to be able to drive the quality that I'm sure they want. That may well change over the next few years. Simulation seems to be something that is attracting more money and interest. It's clearly the perfect partner for VR, where most games probably are not. Given all of that, the future of simulation is probably more exciting than the more traditional game space right now. Obviously I'd say that, but I genuinely think that's true.
Other companies in the sim space such as Excalibur have also said that there is a great potential for VR in the sector. What are your thoughts on VR?
Jackson: We have made significant investment into VR, but we're not in a position to talk about that right now.
More generally speaking, VR is very challenging for the traditional games industry. It's hard to see where some of the big blockbusters like FIFA will operate in that space. There's incredibly bright people [at EA], so I'm sure they'll fix that, but it's not obvious.
A lot of the violent first-person shooter games – all of that stuff doesn't operate how a human being does. You run sidewards very fast, you run around very fast. Those things will just make you sick in virtual reality, like they would in the real world.
But if you look at sim titles, especially peaceful simulations like ours, if you are flying a plane or driving a train or sat fishing or driving a truck or lorry, all of those things work with the underlying tenants of VR brilliantly well.