The US arm of Japanese publisher D3 Publishing is spearheading its UK wing’s push into Europe by looking for games made by local teams to publish – and could even acquire studios in the area.

D3P on the hunt for Euro games

Founded in 1999 in Japan as a value publisher, D3P had carved itself a fairly big niche in Japan, boasting its own dedicated shelf space at retail.

Recently, however, the strategy to focus on premium games (and the overall tougher Japanese market, no doubt) has led it to the West, where it enlisted former THQ US execs Careen Yapp and Brian Christian as VPs for licensing and business development and to help build its American wing. Now Yapp and Christian are hunting out development partnerships across Europe.

Yapp told Develop: “We’re always looking for great development teams, anywhere from those starting up through to those who are established teams, to start building relationships with. We are working with a couple of newer development teams to create games for Live Arcade – I think that’s a great platform for launching original titles with innovative IP. Retail is tought at the moment, so we are looking at the online downloadable space, and we’re looking for a strategy that then leads into the casual gaming market, but really we’re working on everything from 360 Arcade through to next-gen.”

Already, D3P US has a fairly diverse portfolio, publishing SCEI’s PSP game WTF: Work Time Fun, Digital Extreme’s Dark Sector and Vicious Cycle’s Dead Head Fred, plus the movie tie-in for Dreamworks/Aardman’s Flushed Away. It’s a fairly clear indication of the type of games it hopes to pick up.

Added Christian: “We want to make things that are fun, entertaining and innovative. One thing we won’t do is we won’t own people’s IP. We feel that, well, it’s theirs – they created. We do like to have some control so that the name doesn’t get hurt outside of our space, but the rights will eventually revert back to them.

“We would like to be the Miramax of gaming – they were great partners with their filmmakers, and that’s what we’d like to do for studios in our space. It makes no sense to alienate a good developer that has decent IP – because it’s most likely not the only decent IP they’ll come up with.”

Added Yapp: “Really, it should all be about a form of collaboration, and we want to bring that to life.

“Coming to a small publisher from a large company means that now we can take a risk on those titles where the return on investment might not be so high. If there’s a good quality title that we feel should be in the marketplace then we’d like to help it get there.”

A testing ground for D3P’s relationships with European studios will come at the Leipzig Games Convention later this month, where the team hopes to meet new development partners.

Said Yapp: “There’s a lot of great talent – especially in that Sweden and Eastern Europe region. And, of course, there are a number of great teams in the UK, and we are in fact already talking to one team over there who we’d love to work with.”

And, while the focus is purely on working with independent studios, she explained to Develop that eventually the plan is to make sure D3P has its own in-house resource: “Right now we’re doing all external development. Eventually we will have in-house teams, probably by acquiring studios.”

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