Games industry to follow Hollywood model
4J's Chris van der Kuyl looks ahead to the production company structure
President of 4J Studios, Chris van der Kuyl, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes the videogames industry will follow the Hollywood model of studios and production companies - and that production work will move around the world, dependent on cost.
"I feel that in the UK, especially with the dollar being where it is at the moment, it's pretty difficult to understand the model of building a large-scale work-for-hire studio - because then you're competing on price," he said. "Yes, if you're really high quality, people will want you because of that, but still...the big publishers that commission games are certainly looking at the bottom line, and if they can do something for half the price elsewhere there's a pretty good chance they will.
"There's absolutely no question, being cognizant of the challenges that face us in terms of cost base, outsourcing, and so on - it's one of the reasons for keeping ourselves as lean as we possibly can.
"But if you look at the flipside of that, which is moving towards Hollywood... I've been an advocate ever since I got into the industry of the movie studio model, which is a real hardcore of talent who are the production company - the technical leads, the animation, art, design leads, the people who can really put the game together and drive the vision - and then the production will either just get put together for a short time, from anywhere in the world, it doesn't really matter. And that will move around, wherever the talent is at the right cost.
"That's definitely the model we're going down, and the model we see being positive moving forward. And hey, is The Simpsons [cartoon] made in Korea, or is it made in Hollywood? Look at the credits.... but where is the real creative talent? It sits in the US, writing it, directing the scripts and originally developing the characters. I think games are going to go exactly the same way," he added.
He also believes that Dundee can produce a real world-beating studio in time, because of the local talent that is being developed - providing the resources are there to fund it.
"My take on the situation is that we're the second generation of companies now, and I think there'll be good successes in this generation - Realtime have got as good a shot as anybody, with a big pile of cash in the bank, going for it on the global stage, and we all want them absolutely to succeed," he said.
"Plus I think we've got a great opportunity at the moment, with experience, and so on - so this generation could turn out a mega-company, it could do. But the next generation after this is where Dundee will generate a big, global player in this sector.
"People will make a good amount of money out of this generation, that's fine - but the next generation, reinvesting that cash, you've got an opportunity to do something majorly substantial. I won't make any daft predictions as to actual size, but given how the commercial market has changed - as long as you've got the cash to do it - it's possible."
The full GamesIndustry.biz interview with Chris van der Kuyl is available now.
This article is part of Scotland Week on GamesIndustry.biz, sponsored by Dundee City Council and Realtime Worlds.