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Gamecock spearheads European push with ego in check

As Gamecock establishes a solid European base, CEO Mike Wilson tells <i></i> that publishers should remember to keep their egos in check and listen to those who know games better — the dev teams.

As Gamecock establishes a solid European base, CEO Mike Wilson has told that the company intends to listen to its developers every step of the way, keeping its ego in check and allowing the developers to be included in all major decision making.

The publisher is already working with a healthy number of US and European development teams including Croteam, FireFly, TimeGate and Spark Unlimited, and says that the company philosophy revolves around using developers as talent spotters.

"We use our developers, the one's that are working with us currently and have worked with us in the past, as expert witnesses to help us cut through the clutter and the bullshit," said Wilson.

"The Gamecock team, we like to think we know a little bit more than your average publisher, but realistically we still defer to the guys that actually make games. We defer to them on helping us choose games, to some extent helping us produce the games and even up to marketing and PR stuff.

"Developers will sign off on everything we do that bears their name. It's a basic ego check at the door. We're a publisher — we think we're cooler than the other publishers — but what really counts is all these developers making the games," he said.

It's a philosophy that Wilson and partner Harry Miller tried before with the collective Gathering of Developers (GOD), where the studios creating the games kept the rights to their own IP. The seeds sown at GOD have grown, with old partnerships reforming following success for studios like FireFly and Remedy Entertainment.

"We worked with Gathering because we got a good deal with them, we got to keep our Stronghold IP," offered Simon Bradbury of FireFly Studios, who worked with Wilson on the original Stronghold at GOD and is now developing Dungeon Hero for Gamecock.

"As it turns out that was the perfect thing to do because now Stronghold has gone on to be a big 4 million-selling series and we own the rights to it

"It's like what goes around comes around, we're really happy to work with these guys again. With a lot of the bigger publishers it's a very different relationship where you end up with something similar to a book publishing deal — why on earth should a publisher have the rights to the authors' works? We want to have a good relationship, a mature conversation which is going to be good for both the publisher and the developer and at the end of the day, it's good for the public.

"A developer who is given time to mature and grow trust with a publisher is going to deliver better products for people to play," said Bradbury.

Wilson believes that just because publishers perceive themselves to have the power in the relationship, they shouldn't assume to know more than the developers.

"Even though Harry and I came from managing other developers we don't make games for a living. There may as well be a sign over our door because everyone in our building is forced to remember that everyday," he stated.

"No matter how wise we think we may be as gamers or whatever, the reason we have a pretty consistent level of quality is because we use developers to help us choose the games. Even in terms of marketing — the developer knows the audience, so it baffles me that because publishers can have the power and money to make these decisions, it doesn't necessarily mean they should use that power and money," he said.

Gamecock has at least seven titles planned of Europe this year, including Renegade Kid's well-received Dementium for the DS this April and first-person shooter Legendary: The Box (main image) in June, from Call of Duty: Finest Hour developer Spark Unlimited.

Wilson also revealed to that previously announced WWII action title Sabotage has now been renamed as Velvet Assassin, because developer Replay Studios wanted to avoid any clash with Electronic Arts over Pandemic's forthcoming Saboteur game.

"Both games have similar timings and a similar genre. Even though Replay had registered their name first, they just didn't want to have any fight. This new name gives a little bit more of a hint of what the game is about. It's a more descriptive thing, the game has a female lead character based on a real WWII female saboteur," he detailed.

It's not just boxed retail games in the portfolio either, with the publisher keen to make the most of the growing downloadable market for home consoles.

"Everyone who's into independent games is pretty excited by Xbox Live, we've got one title for that due in February (the Blazing Lizard developed Pirates vs Ninja Dodgeball) and it will be the best-looking title on the service. It might take off bigger than a lot of these boxed games have done.

"When a team can knock out a game in six months you can really take a chance on something," added Wilson, revealing that although Sony's PSN service isn't quite as established, the format holder has been knocking on Gamecock's door inquiring about content.

"The market's not there yet but it will be and it's nice that you don't have this 150MB limitation. It will be interesting to see how it emerges as a market.

"Sony really wants this Pirates vs Ninjas game we're doing for Xbox Live and we're platform agnostic so if we're investing in a title let's give it a chance wherever there is one," he said.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: 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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