Industry Figure: Blazej Krakowiak
Job Title: International Brand Manager
Best Known For: Dead Island, Call of Juarez series
Considering the critical acclaim of titles such as The Walking Dead and Journey in 2012, is digital now the real viable means of getting games in gamers' homes?
Those games made the headlines in 2012 and they deserve praise but I think that being a viable distribution channel is more about the numbers. With that in mind, games like Trials and Trials Evolution already provided the proof. Minecraft on XBLA is also a brand on its own.
The economic downturn hit the ‘mid-level’ games hard: the mid-price segment which used to be sustainable on the business side, especially on the PC, is now almost gone. Smaller games, even great ones, need to ‘grow’ an entire set of mandatory features like extensive competitive multiplayer or dozens of hours of gameplay in order to graduate, so to speak, to the retail box. That isn’t always the ideal solution.
Digital distribution, more accessible for developers and publishers and with much greater flexibility when it comes to pricing, is a perfect market for great gameplay experience without any tacked-on features.
What are the biggest and most exciting challenges you're looking forward to in the next year?
2013 is going to be another busy year for Techland. One of our announced titles, Call of Juarez Gunslinger, ties directly into your previous question: it’s a digital-only game which we want to be the best entry in the series. It’s beautiful, stylish and it tells a classic Western story. The reaction we’re getting “is this really an XBLA game?” shows that quality wise, we’re on the right track.
Another unusual game we have in the works is Project Hell, something born from an employee’s fascination with modding Dead Island. It’s being developed by a small team, almost like an internal indie title so it’s another new one for us.
We’re also working on unannounced games and our Warsaw studio is finishing Riptide, a follow-up to 2011’s hit Dead Island. The real challenge is reaching the unprecedented install base of current console generation while preparing for the next.
What are the benefits to you and to gamers of the new console generation after Xbox 360 and PS3?
Let’s face it: the current generation, the longest in the history of our industry, makes current consoles obsolete compared to top of the line gaming PCs. And the ‘arms race’ in the PC space is already much slower than it used to be. Gamers want new, shiny graphics, better integration with mobile and cross-platform functionality, something designed from the ground up as a part of our modern digital life.
Probably every studio with proprietary engine technology, like our Chrome Engine, has some tricks up its sleeve which are simply too demanding for this generation. Unleashing the full potential of all that tech will be a sight to see but that’s just one side of the coin: higher definition assets will, in the long run, mean higher costs for developers. The industry will have to adapt and adjust to that.
It’s not all about the shiny & new though. Let’s not forget that two years ago the venerable PlayStation 2 was still a serious moneymaker for publishers. Total sales of PS3 and X360 are estimated at close to 150 million, that’s a LOT of hardware. I expect to see excellent releases for them for quite a while.
Thanks to Blazej for his time. Check out SPOnG's recent industry insights below.
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