Distribution and publishing firm looks to grow stable of studios and projects

Deep Silver set for acquisition spree

European games giant Koch Media plans to seriously grow and ‘strengthen’ its development resource through new acquisitions.

Speaking exclusively to Develop, Dr. Klemens Kundratitz – CEO of the developer-distributor-publisher which runs the Deep Silver label – said he wants to “strengthen Deep Silver’s line-up of brands”.

Dr. Kundratitz told us that development deals will help the firm ride out the industry shift into digital distribution and casual gaming that has otherwise forced many publishers to reconsider their current business models.

Deep Silver and its parent Koch Media hopes to use both its global physical distribution business and digital distribution platforms as it signs new games and potentially buys studios.

“Our objective is to create great games that sell worldwide. We strive to achieve this by working closely with a vast network of like-minded development partners,” Dr. Kundretitz said.

“We have published and distributed over a hundred titles this way since 2003, including S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, the X series, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel and recently Risen, the new RPG from Piranha Bytes.”

Deep Silver has provided a mixture of publishing, distributing and PR in various combinations for those titles from external developers, said Kundratitz.

“We think that combining all of these aspects leaves us a lot of freedom,” he stated.

“With this setup we are on one side able to cooperate with partners in different degrees but also to publish our own titles. With distribution we have an international expertise in every local European market for more than 10 years – we know how to bring a product to the customer.”

Looking to the future, he added: “We plan to strengthen our publishing business with our own brands. We have started that already with titles like Risen and Cursed Mountain, but will expand these activities in the future.

“Having our own brands allows us to compete as an independent publisher in the games market where the distribution is declining due to the growing online business,” he said.

Kundratitz said the fast changing relationships between publishers and developers were forcing many companies used to handling physical distribution of games to rethink their studio relations.

“While in past years it was possible to allow for errors on both sides, today it is absolutely important to stay in budget, in time and within the expected quality,” he said.

“With budgets for multi-platform titles growing ever bigger and game development growing ever more complex, a publisher has to keep a very sharp eye if the developers stays within the given and agreed timeframe.”

But Kundratitz said views on both sides need to be kept in check as developers start thinking more like publishers and publishers become more sensitive to developers’ needs.

“For instance during development these days, marketing will have a much bigger influence on the creation of a game to assure its marketability,” he said.

“Having a fair relationship with developers is very important to us. Only if both sides have the feeling that this is a mutually beneficial relationship can a quality product be conveyed to the customer.”

With the burgeoning online and social gaming markets and increasing consumer access to digital distribution, Dr. Kundratitz also said the firm is looking towards download-only and games with added DLC.

“These developments are nothing to get nervous about. Rather they are a natural development with ever growing broadband capacities available today. DLCs can extend the life span of a product with keeping the interest of customers, media and potential buyers in a game,” he said.

“Free or paid DLCs, as Bioware shows with Mass Effect 2, can be used to bind buyers to a product for a longer time period. We should face these developments and see how we can use them for our own business. It’s necessary to be prepared in time.”

In all, Deep Silver wants to work with developers in order to take advantage of the expanding market for casual, online and triple-A video games.

“While in the 90s gaming was limited to a selected few, nowadays everyone can play everywhere, anytime. The appeal and acceptance of games as a leisure activity has grown in the general public,” said Kundratitz.

“Be it at home on the desktop PC, through the use of consoles in the living room, on the go through portable consoles or the iPhone our through apps on Facebook – everyone can find their own way of playing games.”

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