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Beefy Media's Adam Boyes

The former Capcom man on the challenges for the digital videogames sector

With an ever-increasing emphasis on the digital platforms there's an inevitable increase in interest for people who have experience of success in the area.

One of those people is Adam Boyes, who helped launch a range of titles in the console digital space while at Capcom - but now he's founded his own consultancy, Beefy Media. Here he explains more about his company, and how the genre is developing. Explain the thinking behind setting up Beefy Media, and what it's all about.
Adam Boyes

Well, I was at Capcom for about three years, and left there a few months ago to start my own company - Beefy Media. Basically what I saw in the industry is that... in Hollywood there's a production layer - a model that can grab the producer, director, and the concept and bring it to fruition. And we don't really have that in our industry.

What I kept seeing is that the way publishers function is that they have four different distinct groups - the mobile group, the online group, the digital group and the retail group, and there isn't a lot of cross-talk.

What's happening now is with the dilution of products, each product has to live in its own circle - but what's happening is that there are a lot of developers out there that have great ideas, they just can't get them out there, so they're not bringing them to all the screens they should be bringing them to.

So what I do with my company is that I work on the development side with great teams to help refine their pitches and help improve their chances of signing a deal; but at the same time try to bring together a multitude of partners - multiple different developers, art outsources, QA groups and so on, so we can be a group that stands alone and be agile.

The problem right now with the ebb and flow in publishers of funding - or no funding - is that you need stability. Being able to do the freelance model I think is a lot more fruitful nowadays - because you have all of these different groups, such as tech or design outsourcing. If you bring all those people together to create convergent games, that's really the goal of the company.

Adam previously worked at Capcom on the launch of a number of digital platform titles. And that vision is something that came to you based on your experience at Capcom?
Adam Boyes

It was talking to everybody in the industry. At Capcom we obviously had a very interesting strategy with global - the most successful downloadable games that we made were Capcom IPs. We had a couple that we tried, like Age of Booty and Flock which didn't perform as well as the ones with brands, but I still saw a lot of great products out there.

There are some great examples of guys we were talking to, like Limbo and Deathspank and Joe Danger - all those great developers - and I just kept seeing them have all these frustrations and challenges. I realised that the knowledge I'd built up through my 15-year career can be utilised for those developers.

I like to say it's taking that publisher knowledge and sprinkling it with developers so they can become more mature, and make sure that when they walk through the door they're speaking the same language as the publisher.

Because publishers and developers think in different ways, and there's no real bridge in-between the two - so that's where I see myself fitting in, building that bridge with them and helping them get what they want out of the publisher. There seems to be a feeling among third party publishers that success lies with existing brands, as you say - while original IP that works is almost all independent developer-led. Is that something you've seen?
Adam Boyes

Yes - basically the top-sellers are mostly things like we had with Street Fighter HD Remix, for example, or Bionic Commando Rearmed. Bringing those things back, giving them some wonderful polish and a new coat of paint, those things are going to sell gangbusters.

But then you have the Trials HD... well Trials has been a series for a while. But you have that, and Castle Crashers and Braid - they're coming from the independent world.

What you're seeing is that publishers aren't willing to go the whole hog into the digital space, when they can do it in retail - because they have the money to do it in retail, right? They're going to try to maximise their profit as much as possible, and while the small guys can dabble and try something new, that's where we see the synergy between the digital platform and independent, new IP games.

Because they can't afford to make a huge retail game, but publishers can - so when you see the Alan Wakes of the world, and the new IPs that get out there, it's because they can. We're just seeing it on a different scale which we never had before.

Back in the day it took two or four guys to make a game - but now that we've grown, people still want to make games with those small sizes, but they can only really express their strength with new IP on their own. So it's just not worth publishers' time and money to invest in new IP on those platforms?
Adam Boyes

You're right - it's a value proposition. It costs roughly 10 per cent of a game's development cost to manage that game. If you do that across a $30 million game versus a $300,000 game, the cost is relatively similar... but where you start getting into trouble is the headcount. If you're managing a hundred games for $300,000 - then you need a massive production staff to handle that. You'd need, like, forty producers or something, whereas for a big game you'll have a team of four or five producers.

So it becomes a numbers game - the potential is much higher for the 'big swing for the fence' $30 million project than it is for the small one. That's why I was so proud of what we did at Capcom - we said from day one that we were going to take the space seriously - that the guys in Osaka were going to keep making fantastic products, but what we would do was augment that by being on the cutting edge of technology with the digital platform... but spend the right amount of time.

Everyone else was dabbling, dipping a toe in the water, but we jumped in whole hog and that's why I was really proud of the early adoption.

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