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Keeping it Edgy

General manager Glen Schofield talks about the process of rebranding, mature content, and the challenge of launching new IP
GamesIndustry.biz Dead Space was hailed by the EA top brass as one of the stable of new IPs that the company was championing last year - but launching a new IP isn't easy, so how pleased were you with the way Dead Space turned out?
Glen Schofield

Well I'm really happy with the Metacritic score, the critical acclaim and the 75 awards we've won worldwide. I don't think I could ask for any more than that - I didn't think I'd be up there accepting a BAFTA award, or getting the DICE award for best action game. That just blew me away.

Do we wish the sales were better? Yeah, but we learned a lot. We launched in a really tough window, in an economic climate that wasn't that great. I think that Dead Space: Extraction is going to benefit a lot from the original, and we're already getting a tonne of publicity on that. If we ever make any Dead Space games they'll benefit from the fact that we had great critical acclaim.

Within EA it's the highest-rated internally-made game for the last year, and I think it's probably our highest-rated action game in the last five years.

GamesIndustry.biz That's always a nice statistic to be able to hold up in a board meeting... in hindsight do you think you'd have benefitted if you'd released the game early this year, for example?
Glen Schofield

Well, we did pull the game in two weeks early - it went through Sony and Microsoft test with flying colours. We didn't get bounced once, so we were able to release two weeks early. I think maybe part of it wasn't having online, but other than that... EA came back and I think learned a lot about how much to spend on new IP at launch. Maybe we underinvested in the beginning - it was a good investment, but maybe it needed more.

But the name is surely out there now, and the awards really helped. If you look back at the history of videogames, a lot of times it's been the second game that's benefitted from the first game's critical success.

GamesIndustry.biz Have you seen a long tail on sales of Dead Space as a result of that acclaim, so the word-of-mouth effect was getting around?
Glen Schofield

Yes, there was probably a longer, more consistent tail on it. What I mean by that is that each week it was selling the same amount of units for a long time. A lot of the time it will dip until it completely drops off, but even today it's still selling a pretty consistent amount of units per week.

GamesIndustry.biz Extraction is due later this year - there's been a fair amount of discussion about what the market is for mature content on the Wii platform, but I'd assume you're fairly confident?
Glen Schofield

I'm confident - it is an experiment, but there's going to be 50 million Wiis out there by the time the game comes out, so if you only hit 2 per cent of the installed base and you've got a huge number.

I don't know - there have been some already, Resident Evil and House of the Dead, that have done really well, so we're pushing for that 80-plus-rated game, and that'll put you in the top 5 per cent of all Wii games... because most do not have a great score.

GamesIndustry.biz Will marketing be the key for success?
Glen Schofield

Marketing's always the key. We're coming out a little bit earlier, so hopefully not in the middle of a whole bunch of other stuff, but also the gameplay - you haven't seen this kind of gameplay on the Wii. You've got zero G, and a lot of the mechanics that we had in Dead Space, and more, we've put into Extraction. It's a pretty robust game.

Glen Schofield is VP and general manager of Visceral Games. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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