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BGS' Roy Meredith

The studio's general manager on the ChampMan brand values, challenges and opportunities

Earlier this year Beautiful Game Studios announced that it's annual Championship Manager boxed PC title was taking a break; more recently, following an iPhone edition of the game, the company announced a link-up with Shanda Games in China to work on a CM title for that region.

Here the GM of BGS, Roy Meredith, explains the changes that have been taking place and looks ahead to the future - what's important for the ChampMan brand, and what the biggest challenges and opportunities are going forwards. It's been a bit quiet from BGS recently, with the announcement earlier in the year that the PC edition of Championship Manager was being held back - but now you've unveiled a link-up with Shanda to release a game in China. How significant is that?
Roy Meredith

Well, China's a big place, and they like football - I guess really it's that straightforward. It's a big, new market as well. You know how big Shanda is, and how big other companies over there are, and we've been talking to them for 18 months or so now - long discussions about what we could do.

It's really exciting for us, but it's really early days as well. It was a natural move - we've been so totally focused in the past on the PC boxed version of the game, and that wasn't right for us by itself, so we needed to branch out. As we were thinking about what we needed to do that, it became obvious to look at other territories and formats.

Roy Meredith has been the general manager at BGS since 2007. Was Shanda the only company you spoke to? How did the deal come about?
Roy Meredith

We've got an office over in Shanghai, a small studio that does outsourcing. We went over to talk to them - quite a while ago - about whether we should outsource some work to China. In the course of those discussions, what kept coming across to us was just how popular ChampMan was as a brand there... so it came about out of that.

The only company we've spoken to was Shanda - and right from the word go they've been very enthusiastic. What I particularly like about the guys there is their knowledge of football, which is brilliant. And what's the potential in that market?
Roy Meredith

I can't really speak in numbers, but we know how big China is as a country - just huge potential. There's a great quote about football, something like that of all the people that have ever lived (before South Africa) about five per cent of them watched the last World Cup final.

That gives you an idea of how big football is around the world. And China's a relatively untapped market on the football management side of things.
Roy Meredith

It's all exciting stuff, and the numbers are a bit mind-boggling when you let your imagination run wild - but it's going to be interesting. It's very early days. When will you be able to look back and properly evaluate success or failure? Is it 12 months, two years, five years?
Roy Meredith

Oh yes, it's longer term as a deal - and I'd like to think it's something that evolves. Is the business model a bit experimental for BGS as a company, as opposed to the selling of traditional boxed products? How different will it be?
Roy Meredith

I think very different for us, in as much as with the PC boxed game, traditionally in a sports environment, we're a bit fixated on those annual iterations. We did take a break from that, and put the PC game on hold, but in general terms you're talking annual iterations.

With something like this, with regard to business models, it has to be something very different. Everything about it is a learning curve, because although we're not announcing what it is, everybody knows what Shana's strengths are and where their business lies.

So this is a state of permanence out there in front of consumers, and therefore all the business model is different for us. That's something we're very reliant on Shanda for - not only in reaching out to that audience, but their expertise in doing it with that business model.

Our expertise is in football, and football management games. It's exciting, but it's quite daunting as well in that respect, and there's a lot of learning - every time we go over there. They're a great partner, and super-nice people.

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