Q&As// Scott Brown, President of NetDevil

The Gazillion dollar brain...

Posted 20 Mar 2009 17:55 by
A couple of days ago a hitherto-unknown publisher, Gazillion, sprang onto the MMO scene. A new company looking to get into the MMO market isn't much of a surprise, but just how fully-formed Gazillion already is proved impressive.

As well as having secured the rights to do a couple of Marvel Comics MMOs, Gazillion already had veteran MMO developer, NetDevil under its umbrella.

NetDevil has been making MMOs for pretty much as long as people have been playing them - most notably having created the Jumpgate franchise.

SPOnG caught up with Scott Brown, president of NetDevil, to discuss how the acquisition came about and what it means for the company in the future.

SPOnG: First off, for our readers not familiar with NetDevil, can you give us some background on the company?

Scott Brown: NetDevil was started in 1997 to create online games. Currently we are developing LEGO Universe, Jumpgate Evolution and a yet to be announced title.

SPOnG: So, how did the Gazillion acquisition come about?

Scott Brown: I met Rob Hutter, the CEO of Gazillion, while on a trip to China of all places. We started to talk about our companies and from there began to meet from time to time to share ideas about various topics.

As I realized that we needed help to really keep things growing we came to the conclusion that together we would be better. We found a path to this and Gazillion acquired NetDevil.

SPOnG: How long ago was it completed? I know Gazillion has been operating under the radar for a while.

Scott Brown: NetDevil was acquired in June 2008.

SPOnG: How has the acquisition affected the studios?

Scott Brown: It has really made us better in some many different ways. Gazillion has stepped in filled the holes in NetDevil and since then we have grown the company almost 50%. Additionally they have given us the support to make sure we have the time to make our games great.

SPOnG Did you have any reservations about working with a new company?

Scott Brown: Sure, there are always reservations but we have been with them so long now, so it feels like business as usual. I think the merging of the companies has gone very well so far.

SPOnG The acquisition of NetDevil by Gazillion is just the latest in a long line of buyouts and mergers in the games industry. Why do you think consolidation is a growing trend?

Scott Brown: I can't speak to the trend, and I am not sure our acquisition is for the same reasons. For us, I was honestly not the guy to run the company and also raise money to keep us growing. With Gazillion, we have so much support in so many areas: finance, operations, publishing and more then what we could have done on our own.

SPOnG: Does the need for the additional support from Gazillion reflect difficulties in operating in the increasingly crowded MMO market?

Scott Brown: Maybe. Just running an MMO is so much more than a standard PC title. You have billing, operations, support, as well as making the game itself. It's building a service in addition to launching a game, which takes a lot of manpower. We have never really built games similar to others on the market so we have never really be influenced by what the "competition" is doing.

SPOnG: Last time we saw Jumpgate Evolution was at Connect 2008, when Codemasters was publishing the game. Is that still the case, or will Gazillion be dealing with it?

Scott Brown: Absolutely, our relationship with Codemasters is better than ever. They will be distributing the game in both Europe and North America, and will run the service in Europe while we will run the service in North America.

SPOnG: The game Gazillion was pushing in its announcement was the more casual, kid-friendly Super Hero Squad. You guys are working on the LEGO MMO, which is in the same vein. Will casual MMOs be NetDevil's primary focus in the future?

Scott Brown: No, our focus will remain the same which is making great online game experiences outside of the realm of what has been done before. We've always been interested in making games we feel passionate about, be they casual, kid-friendly, IP based or independent.

SPOnG: Do you see casual MMOs as the way forward in a market crowded by Blizzard?

Scott Brown: I don't think its just casual. FPS, RTS, etc are other examples of underexplored MMO possibilities as well.

SPOnG: Thanks for your time.

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