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Licensed IPs can be "very fertile ground" for creativity

Thu 08 Apr 2010 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Development

Boundaries are necessary in order to be both creative and productive, says Starbreeze CEO

Starbreeze Studios CEO Johan Kristiansson has said that there is plenty of scope for creativity when developing a licensed game, pointing out that boundaries are necessary in the development of all games, whether they're owned IPs or someone else's.

"I think [...] that licensed IPs can prove to be very fertile ground for creative achievements," Kristiansson told GamesIndustry.biz.

"Something like the Godfather movies, for example, they're based on books and are considered by some to be some of the best movies ever made. Or like the Batman Dark Knight movie and [Rocksteady's] Arkham Asylum game, excellent products based on a well exploited IP. There's certainly scope for talented people to do great work based on existing licences.

"It's important to understand that there are always boundaries for creative work whether you're working on your own IP or someone else's. Those boundaries are necessary in order for you to be creative AND productive."

Kristiansson confirmed that one of the two high profile EA-published titles the studio had been working on had been cancelled - speculation has pointed at it being a game based on Robert Ludlam's Bourne licence, leaving the studio with a second title known only as RedLime.

He was unable to elaborate which title it was however, but said that the cancellation had left the studio in a "pretty good position", which additional funds allocated to the remaining project.

"There seems to be a lot of speculation in the media on which of the two projects have been cancelled but I'm not able to comment on that at the moment," he said.

"I can say that although we've had one project cancelled we're actually in a pretty good position. We've had additional funds allocated to the other project and we have high hopes for that project. Also we've not had to release any staff since almost everyone will be busy with the other project for a while.

"Project cancellation can be pretty painful but with the situation we're in right now we're quite happy with how it's turned out. Also, I think that this is the way that the industry as a whole is going now, focusing on fewer projects but with bigger budgets."

On the subject of whether the studio would consider developing a game based on an original IP, Kristiansson said that licences had delivered better offers and bigger budgets over the years, but that it had a lot of ideas for new IPs.

"It does seem, however, that as you get later in to a console cycle it becomes increasingly difficult to convince publishers to take the risk on new IPs, especially with the general turmoil that the industry has experienced over the last year or so," he pointed out.

Kristiansson added that the Swedish studio received a great deal of support from consumers in the country. "There's a certain amount of consumer patriotism for Swedish studios in general," he said.

"Starbreeze is a well known company in Sweden and a couple of weeks back Starbreeze appeared 15th most attractive IT company to work for, on a list of hundreds of Sweden based IT companies.

"The likes of Microsoft, Google and Sony Eriksson were at the top and Starbreeze was the only company of its size to chart so highly. We value that very highly and we try to engage with the community by using some local testers and engaging the education community also."

You can read the full interview with Johan Kristiansson here.

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