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Bethesda reveals three-pronged European expansion plans

Mon 11 May 2009 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Business

Publisher seeks marketing teams, product and possible studio acquisitions; Splash Damage title a "genre-breaker," says MD

Bethesda Softworks

The Bethesda Softworks division, founded in 1986, has a long history of success as a developer and publisher...

bethsoft.com

Bethesda has revealed its long-term European expansion plans, as the company follows the success of Fallout 3 by reaching further into European markets, seeking out new relationships with independent developers and signs up titles for European-only release.

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, European managing director Sean Brennan revealed that the first title to prove it's new dedication to the market will be the first-person shooter from Splash Damage, set for a big E3 reveal next month, which the company is claiming will be a "genre-breaker".

"The next challenge is to expand our presence outside the UK," said Brennan, in the first part of an interview published today. "The traditional pattern for a publisher to get in to Europe is to establish a UK office and then move to France and Germany and sell direct in those markets. That's not our plan, we're not following that strategy."

He continued: "That's a huge overhead, and when you do that what tends to happen is you have a product release schedule, but product tends to slip, and quite frankly, shit happens, so you have this huge overhead that you have to cover. "You go out and you try and sell distribution deals, and you try and pick up titles, and that pick-up mentality is a kind of anathema to a large degree. We don't want to replicate that model, we want to have a direct control over our marketing and PR in all the major territories in Europe."

With marketing and PR teams across the key European regions, the publisher will use distribution partners to reach retail, working on building long-term relationships to replicate the success of Fallout 3, which has sold through close to two million units in Europe.

European-specific product is also on the cards, revealed Brennan, with a deal already in place for the release of an as-yet unannounced game in the region.

"We've been looking for product for Europe only. There's going to be one particular deal that we're going to be announcing soon on that side," said Brennan. "We don't need to pick up titles just to fill holes or fill gaps to generate revenues, because quite frankly we've got a load of money in the bank."

At a time when rival publishers are bringing development in-house to keep a closer eye on budgets, Bethesda is seeking new independent partners across Europe to create new titles, with the possibility of studio acquisitions if it will help the company gain a strategic advantage in the market.

"We're working more with external development, which historically we've not been as good at as internal development. We're looking in Europe, and whether that is just acquiring products or acquiring studios, it's about whatever makes sense and we'll look at all possibilities.

He added: "Certainly in the UK and Europe the next stage for us is that we've shown development how we can publish big global hits like Fallout, now we're in a situation where we want to develop relationships with key people and really expand the portfolio in that way."

And the first fruits of this new focus will be Bethesda's first title with the UK's Splash Damage, with the game set for a big reveal at next month's E3 show in Los Angeles.

"We're not announcing the name yet, but it's a first-person shooter. That's a product that we believe is a genre-breaker, it's a real killer app," offered Brennan.

"From a quality perspective we're pitching that along the same lines as Fallout 3. We've kept it under lock and key, there are so many innovative features in there we don't want to reveal them too soon. We've spent significant resources developing the title. And that's a great example of our European work," he concluded.

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