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Playing Dead

Playdead Studios' Dino Patti on life, Limbo and beyond

PlayDead's Limbo was one of the most memorable games of 2010, and one of XBLA's most successful. Now the game has been officially announced for PSN and PC, PlayDead CEO Dino Patti sat down with for a chat about the Nordic community, Playdead's position in it and what's next for the studio.

GamesIndustry.bizSo Limbo has now been officially announced for both PSN and PC, was there an exclusivity agreement in place with Microsoft or did the porting just take time?
Dino Patti

A bit of both. Making sure that everything is in good shape for a new platform takes time, and we have been focusing more on the new game.

GamesIndustry.bizDid the PSN crisis affect the process at all?
Dino Patti

We only had few things we couldn't test for some days, nothing which actually shifted our launch schedule. I think the problem for small developers is that you have to choose to go with either Xbox or PSN - it's hard for a small developer to get on both because you don't have the leverage to do it.

It's something that might change in the future but I think today, with the way those guys operate, it's really important for them to differentiate their platforms. That means that they'll always try to do exclusive things when they can. If you're with a big publisher then you have more chance of doing something because you can say you have a million dollars in marketing budget. We started with $100,000 in PR and marketing - so it wasn't much compared to the big guys.

GamesIndustry.bizAnd what's in the pipeline now?
Dino Patti

We have a new game in the works. We have a lot of things going on!

GamesIndustry.bizDo you think that the ethos behind Limbo will be one you carry through to other projects?
Dino Patti

Definitely. It's definitely a mark of Arnt, who was the game director for the project - he was the one who put his heart and soul into it, the goal for the studio is to set new standards. We would never just follow gold rushes and just do whatever everyone else is doing. We're doing out own stuff, and trying to optimise stuff like distribution, obviously. But we'll never compromise the good idea being the driver of the company.

GamesIndustry.bizYou were lauded as one of the biggest wins of the Nordic Game funding program - how important was that to your success?
Dino Patti

To be honest, the money was really small. But, at that stage not much money was available so it was really good for us. When we got the first money we were just two people, me and Arnt. That meant we could run the business for two years - instead of that we started slowly hiring. So at the begining that money was immensely important for us.

We don't see our neighbours as competitors. We live in a house with a load of other developers!

GamesIndustry.bizAnd that was a fairly long time before release?
Dino Patti

Yes, we got the first funding in 2006, so just around when Arnt and I met.

GamesIndustry.bizSpeaking to the organisers of Nordic Game in Malmo recently, they were very honest about the fact that the program is not looking in great shape at the moment for the future - funding is decreasing fast. Do you think that the placement of funding represents a sound investment for the Nordic governments?
Dino Patti

I don't know if you can talk about investments in that sense. It's more like support. It's not giving us investment, it's giving us support. I think the figures are okay. I think it's necessary for the games business in the Nordic region right now to have some sort of kickstarter. I'm not necesarilly that much into putting support into things which can't support themselves, but, especially in Denmark at the moment, the business is so low that it needs some kind of booster to get on the level of places like the UK.

It's justifiable as a cultural thing at least.

GamesIndustry.bizSo you'd see it as a cultural grant rather than business?
Dino Patti

Ideally it'd be best if it was seen as a bit of both.

GamesIndustry.bizDo you think that the program as a whole can continue with the reduced funding? I think it is predicted to drop by 75 per cent by 2015...
Dino Patti

I think it'll have a hard time. The grants will be lower, the Nordic Game conference, one of the only conferences we have in the Nordic region, will be smaller. I think it's the wrong direction.

GamesIndustry.bizIt's a real shame, because it seems like a really important thing for the local industry. There seems to be quite a collaborative attitude between studios in the region - is that a fair assessment?
Dino Patti

Yeah, I think it is. We don't see our neighbours as competitors. We live in a house with a load of other developers! We compete on a global scale, and for our game at least, it's not like we have any tricks that other people would just copy if they found them out. We do our products, they do theirs. They don't really overlap - maybe if they came out the same day and had stolen everything from the game, that wouldn't be good, but there's not that kind of community at all, it's really respectful.

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