In the first of a series of features looking at the victors of this year’s Develop Awards, we’re throwing the spotlight on Publishing Hero 2007 award-winner Sega, with an exclusive roundtable talking to the studio heads of the company’s Sports Interactive, Creative Assembly and Secret Level teams.
All three studios – which are allowed to be run with "independent spirit" according the execs we spoke to – were acquired in the past two years as Sega has looked to grow its slate of Western development resource, and Develop got to speak to them during an internal development conference held earlier this year.
Getting the senior staff together hasn’t just given us good copy, either – the studios, charged with helping push the Sega brand out using well known franchises like Football Manager, Total War or Sega’s own IP, are looking at closer ways to share technology and reinforce their place on the global stage.
"One of the most exciting benefits of joining the Sega family is the ability to freely collaborate with a group of other like-minded studios, each with their own identity, culture and expertise," Secret Level’s Jeremy Gordon told us. "To date, we have taken advantage of the other studios in sharing ideas, approaches to common problems as well as code. It’s my hope and plan to increase this collaboration in the near future to include sharing larger technology components such as in-house developed user interface tools and the like."
Added Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson: "One of the points of the dev conference is to turn the discussions all the studios have been having together into action. The tech demos at the conference have been eye opening, with lots of discussions amongst the various studios about how it could be used in their games, and it’s something that will start happening more and more as a result of the conference, alongside a plan for a studio wide knowledge base."
Sega is busy behind the scenes making sure its acquired studios haven’t been damaged by any integration process, explained reps from Creative Assembly, which was bought in March 2005.
Studio head Mike Simpson describes Sega as a company "that didn’t want to ‘break’ what it was acquiring, and would leave us as much as possible as an independent entity."
Indeed, added his Australian counterpart George Fidler, the acquisition let the independent studio ramp up its plans to develop its own title: "Prior to the acquisition we were a small satellite studio. The acquisition meant we now had the liquidity and publisher support to quadruple the size of the studio to 50 people, and take on a substantial project of our own. The result was Medieval II: Total War. We would not have had this opportunity without the acquisition."
Part one of the full interview can be read here – part two will be available to read next week.