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Koch Media rebrands as Plaion to "acknowledge who we truly are"

Managing director Klemens Kundratitz emphasises firm will remain "first and foremost a games company"

As of today, Koch Media is no more. Instead, the company will now go by a new moniker: Plaion.

The 28-year-old games publisher unveiled its new logo today, and GamesIndustry.biz spoke to managing director Klemens Kundratitz about the motivations and implications of the overhaul. For starters, he tells us the process originally began as a visual upgrade to modernise Koch's look.

"But the more we thought about it, the more we wanted to go all the way," he told us. "It's more impactful, it's got an external statement but it's also an internal statement to our people. We're opening this new chapter, they're part of this, we're a modern, growing, ambitious, global company, and it's energising people internally.

"Obviously, we want to avoid people seeing this as window dressing. The signal we're sending is that we're on a journey and it's good to give this journey a new name, new visual appearance. New is always exciting."

Kundratitz also hopes the new identity will make more of an impact internationally than Koch did.

The signal we're sending is that we're on a journey and it's good to give this journey a new name, new visual appearance

"We have made such an enormous transformation since we joined the Embracer Group," he said. "Our name for so many years was associated with physical distribution, perhaps with us being more of a central European company – although including the UK because that was among the first three countries where we launched. But we're perhaps not seen as a global company. And it's sometimes difficult for some people to pronounce."

For those wondering, the 'ch' in Koch is not pronounced the way you would think. Plaion, meanwhile, is pronounced exactly as you would expect: like 'Play on,' a phrase Kundratitz hopes to evoke for both the company's games and film business. The logo has even been designed around the universally recognised triangular symbol for 'play' with the 'io' styled to resemble a one and zero – a little binary Easter egg to emphasise the company's digital operations.

That said, for all the film and TV connotations associated with the 'play' symbol, Kundratitz emphasised that Plaion is "first and foremost a games company."

"It's nine-to-one compared to the size of the film business," he explained.

"We're not mutating into a different company, we're just following a path that we've already been on since becoming part of Embracer Group. We're growing in all areas. It's certainly not a departure from physical distribution. Our mantra is we want to offer games wherever and however people want to play them: physical, digital, collector's editions. Whatever way people want to consume our content, we're there. We're long-term committed in the physical space, but equally we need to reinvent ourselves all the time."

He continued: "We're a very transformed company and we have an ambition on a global scale to continue to grow, both on the content creation side and the sales side, as well as diversifying into different forms of entertainment. We're ready to give ourselves a new look, a new style, and open a new chapter."

The rebooted Saints Row will be the first major release after the Plaion rebrand

Kundratitz isn't exaggerating when he says the company has gone through an enormous transformation since Embracer (then THQ Nordic) acquired Koch Media for $150 million. The MD says his firm is now three times the size it was when purchased – over 2,300 staff, including 1,600 developers. That's thanks in part to a number of its own acquisitions, such as VR publisher Vertigo Games, Kingdom Come Deliverance developer Warhorse Studios, Polish studio Flying Wild Hog and Timesplitters creator Free Radical Design.

During this time, it has also enjoyed smash hits like Metro Exodus, as well as further releases for popular properties like Saints Row, Wasteland and Shenmue, and formed a brand new publishing label Prime Matter.

Koch has always been a B2B brand and it will continue to be. All our publishing labels, like Deep Silver and Prime Matter, will stay the same

The new brand will also apply to Koch Film, which is now Plaion Pictures, although the various games publishing labels remain unchanged. This at least mitigates some of the need to re-educate consumers as to who is producing the games they buy.

"Koch has always been a B2B brand and it will continue to be," Kundratitz said. "All our consumer-facing publishing labels – Deep Silver, Prime Matter, Ravenscourt, Milestone and Vertigo Games – will stay the same. I think it's easier to transition from Koch to Plaion in a B2B environment."

So why transition now? Kundratitz said the timing is especially good as it comes just ahead of Gamescom, where Plaion will have a big presence and new announcements to cement the rebrand in people's minds. He also added that Plaion is far from the only company dramatically reinventing its image.

"If Mark Zuckerberg can do it, we can do it," he laughed. "There is no particular event that is forcing us to change anything, I think it's just overdue to do it."

Facebook's rebrand to Meta was a statement of intent, a sign of how much stock the company is putting in a future built around the notion of the metaverse. With Plaion, it's different, according to Kundratitz. It's a statement about the success the company has had, and hopes to continue.

"It's the moment where we want to acknowledge who we truly are and what our ambitions are for the future. It's not a breakpoint, cutting off what we've done and doing something new – I mean, Facebook is also continuing to be Facebook, so it's not that different."