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Bigpoint's Heiko Hubertz

The CEO on Panasonic's Jungle, IPTV, acquisitions and the future of free-to-play

Bigpoint has made a number of moves to step up its business in 2010, including establishing a studio in the US, securing a number of licenses to attach to its MMO development teams and refining its DevLounge self-publishing business.

All these moves have been in preparation for 2011, a year in which the company aims to prove it can be a global leader in the browser market, as the games business expands online with high quality free-to-play MMOs. Here, in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, CEO Heiko Hubertz discusses the short-term plans for next year, and looks further forward to the possible evolution of online gaming in a rapidly expanding tech environment.

GamesIndustry.biz What are Bigpoint's plans for the rest of the year?
Heiko Hubertz

What we're doing in the English speaking territories is we've announced our first game for those territories - Ruined Online. It's one of the games we're developing in Unity 3D, a first-person shooter with a comic book style, and we want to launch it next year. We've also just announced the closed beta for Battlestar Galactica which is really important for us. We're obviously aware of the time plan because we always said by the end of the year we want to launch this game.

GamesIndustry.biz What was the reaction to Ruined Online, because that's the first title from your new US studio, and aimed specifically at a US audience?
Heiko Hubertz

Feedback has been very positive about the quality of the game but we've only shown off two levels. In December we'll launch a demo version of the game for the public and we hope to receive broader feedback.

GamesIndustry.biz Do you find people are surprised by the high quality bar you're aiming for in a browser-based game?
Heiko Hubertz

Many people have tried to compare it to Quake Online because we're the first company trying to launch a browser-based shooter game. With Quake you have to install the Quake client. I think it surprised even Unity because we didn't tell them about the game we were working on, they were pleased enough to announce it on their site and say 'look what Bigpoint is doing with our engine'. Of course it's not just important that people are impressed with the quality, they have to pay for the game, so we'll see [smiles].

GamesIndustry.biz Do you think it can attract that dedicated, core audience already playing Quake Online?
Heiko Hubertz

We don't know. We're not only aiming at the small audience playing shooter games, we're aiming for users who are playing other browser-based games to show them what is possible, the kind of quality and the kind of gameplay we can offer. We want to target a broad and massive user base with these games. That's part of the reason why we chose a comic book style as well.

GamesIndustry.biz So what are the main objectives going in to 2011?
Heiko Hubertz

2011 will be a big year for us in the UK and America, the English speaking territories are very important to us. So far, we are successful in Europe and Eastern Europe but in the UK we are not that big at the moment. With Battlestar Galactica, Ruined Online and also The Mummy Online we want to focus on this market because the UK is one of biggest gaming markets in Europe and the US is the biggest in the world, so to be a global leader and a global company we have to be successful and one of the top players in these markets. That's our focus for next year. We've prepared everything, a new office in San Francisco, we've licensed the IP with Battlestar and The Mummy, and we've hired teams to develop the games. So next year hopefully we'll be successful. That's one of the goals.

The other thing we're doing it concentrating on casual gaming. We've seen the big successes around and the big Facebook games but we have a different approach. We've said we'll launch games outside of Facebook for our media partners. So we have a game called Farmarama which if you compare on Google Trends to FarmVille, you'll see that Farmarama is already bigger than FarmVille. That's because we're using our distribution network, all the media partners we have, the ISPs, the gaming portals, the TV stations - they all use this games as a white label solution to drive traffic. This game is so successful outside of Facebook. So next year we want to increase our distribution network and launch more casual games through those partners. So with the English speaking territories it's triple A quality and casual games, that's our two big things for 2011.

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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