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Epic Win

Mike Capps on an immature business, the right time to make a Vita game and why he's scared to reveal new IP
GamesIndustry.biz You also seem open to new devices, is there ever a time you look at a device and think 'no'?
Mike Capps

Oh yeah, definitely. We've got a lot of different axis when we look at something like that, it's very exciting for us to be early on the platform with technology, so we were the first ever demo on PS3 for example, and that was really important to us because I'm still saying it six years later, so clearly I thought that was a really cool thing to do.

But that's very different from saying we're going to do a launch title, which would be huge support, but costly in terms of poor install base on the platform. Not that they did a bad job, it's just the first year is always bad, it's always hard, and so we just prefer to wait. And with Xbox we shipped a year after it came out and had a better install base. So it's kind of a question of showing up for the tech demos, do we get our engine up and running and do we ship a game and fully support that platform? It's a broad range of options.

For example we're not currently making a Vita game, I'm not sure how well it's going to be accepted in our Western market which is primarily where our games sell. It's a really cool platform, but I have a phone, and it's really hard to compete with that. So I'm not sure if it will be successful or not, I hope they are, it's good for the games industry, but we got our tech on it really early. We were, I think, one of the very first people to get one and work with it and we were on stage at the launch, because we have a lot of licensees who are curious about it and so we did the first part. But we can't really fully support that platform unless we're shipping our own games, that's how we know we know that platform, and it's really important for us to do that. And so with Vita we're not planning on shipping a game and so that means we're pretty honest with folks and say "you can have the Vita code we've got but this is not the same as us having shipped on Xbox or iPhone." It's the same business decision I think that anybody makes, is this a platform for me?

We're not currently making a Vita game, I'm not sure how well it's going to be accepted in our Western market which is primarily where our games sell

GamesIndustry.biz Ubisoft suggested that now for each new IP it has to have a game for every platform, is that the way to go?
Mike Capps

No. It's easy to do if you're 850 people on a title I guess. It's great to have that, I suppose if you're smart about it, having the potential is different than saying we're going to do it. When we think about our IP we care a lot about having the ability to make action figures, because it's a good way to tell, if there's no action figure then there's no character, there's no monsters that stand out, what's cool about this IP then? How could it be a movie? How could it be a comic book as well? But that doesn't mean we go and make action figures and comic books. But my god, if you make World Of Warcraft and you also have to have an Xbox version, you won't ship World Of Warcraft. And there's a lot of great entertainment that's a really good fit for the phone, but, Infinity Blade on the Xbox? Maybe it would be cool with Kinect, but I think it's great where it is.

And then you get port-itis, which really irritates the hell out of, well, you pick! PC gamers hate it, console gamers hate it.

GamesIndustry.biz You're showing a new IP at the VGAs on Saturday, can you tell me anything about it?
Mike Capps

It's something radically different for us. New IP, new game. We're not really talking much about platform or anything like that, but I mentioned at GDCE Europe and my keynote there that we were working on a lot of new projects, and it's been really refreshing to the team to try some new things. We love Gears, it was a great trilogy, we've gotten a lot of great compliments and a lot of great fans, and we're still supporting Gears 3 very strongly, but I've got guys that have been on it since 2001, and some of them need a break and to try something new.

So this is going to be one of those projects where we try something totally different, and it just went 'boom', because everyone had this pent up energy to do something new. And I can't wait for them to get back to something like Gears in the future, because it's sort of our bread and butter, and they're going to be more energised for it to.

GamesIndustry.biz So are those fans going to be freaked out or will they look at it and recognise it as an Epic product?
Mike Capps

We're scared to death of both. I'm so scared that people will just say "oh yeah, that looks like an Epic game, oh sure" because I want them to see it as a departure, but I don't want anyone to say "that doesn't look anything like an Epic game, forget it, I'm not interested." So we're actually nervous, we haven't been nervous like this for a while!

I'm nervous, this is something I pushed for a lot and I wrote some of the script for the trailer and if everyone hates it that's it, I'm out of games for a while. (Laughs)

We love Gears, it was a great trilogy, but I've got guys that have been on it since 2001, and some of them need a break

GamesIndustry.biz So what's happening for Epic in 2012? Are you expecting any big changes in the industry?
Mike Capps

Watching what happened to Zynga I think is going to be good for everyone. I feel sorry for the folks at Zynga who were looking for the $20 billion dollar IPO but are now down to $7 billion or something, and that was in a week, I think that's useful in that it's sort of burst the bubble already, which is great to bring you back to what's successful about Zynga as a business model and as a gaming company, and think about that rather than "rah rah, social!"

From Epic's perspective we'll have made some big announcements in technology, which will be exciting, at least one new IP that we'll be announcing, and I like to think we'll have shipped something new by this time next year as well. We'll see though.

Rachel Weber avatar

Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.