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Industry is "crap" at exploring new levels of interactivity - Monte Cristo CEO

Self-centred business failing to take inspiration from successful internet models

The games business is too self-centred and obsessed with creating blockbuster titles, according to Jerome Gastaldi, CEO of Monte Cristo.

Developers and publishers are failing to take inspiration from advances in interactivity and business models that are currently helping the internet go from strength to strength, said the French developer.

"The fact is there is real real schism in the industry, I think that the next gen has really created such a dependence on huge, multi-million-dollar productions," said Gastaldi, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz.

"But I think that the internet has so many possibilities, there is a whole new level of interactivity that we can be exploring. Honestly, as an industry, I think we're pretty crap at it – look at the web, look at browser based games, look at social networking, there's an awful lot we can learn.

"I think that we in the games industry are a little bit self-centred about what we do; we have to open our eyes a bit and take influence from elsewhere," he added.

Monte Cristo is currently working on the simulation and MMO hybrid Cities XL, with the studio adopting multiple business practices inspired by the growth of the web.

"We looked a lot at Web 2.0, user created content and user interaction on the web, and we thought it would be cool to create a game that could start a community and can depend on and expand through the web as well as the game itself," detailed Gastaldi.

"With Cities XL, player interaction is not limited to the game; it can also be expressed on the web, through the player community website. That's where we're coming from. It's a pretty innovative concept overall, but really we think of it as a combination of several recipes that have already proven successful."

The title is self-financed, will feature multiple payment and subscription options, and will be self-published by Monte Cristo – a move the CEO admits is a bit "mad".

"You need to be a little bit mad to start a project like this. You need to have a strong level of belief. You know how big productions work – it's like a committee. You have to go through the classic process of telling the publisher how your game is like previous games, and if you want to do something that's never been done before, the chances of getting green-lit are pretty low."

Without an established publisher on board, the company is willing to trade the opinion and influence of one producer with the thousands of players involved in the community.

"You have to completely switch your mentality; you have to accept that you are in direct contact with the people who are actually going to play the game.

"To be honest it is a totally refreshing process," admitted Gastaldi. "You exchange one producer at a big publisher for ten thousand guys that actually want to play the game you're making, and give you advice and feedback. Although I'm not one hundred per cent certain who's more likely to be right."

The full interview with Jerome Gastaldi, where he discusses Cities XL in detail, payment methods for the game and the success of French development teams, can be read here.

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