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Scotland does social gaming

New publisher Outplay's Douglas Hare on a changed industry

Brothers Douglas and Richard Hare have been in the games industry for a quarter of century – with CVs boasting the likes of Virgin Interactive, The Collective and Foundation9. After a couple of decades in the US, they've now headed back to their homeland of Scotland to found social and mobile game publisher Outplay Entertainment.

With VC backing and the public support of the Scottish government, the firm hopes to eventually provide in the region of 150 jobs to the Dundee area. Just following the new firm's announcement, GamesIndustry.biz spoke to co-founder and CEO Douglas Hare about his plans for Outplay, the future of mobile/social and traditional games, and the current state of the British gaming industry.

GamesIndustry.bizYou've revealed you'll be focusing on mobile and social gaming, but can you share any sense of your long term plans?
Douglas Hare

I think product portfolio plan is really to try and not fixate particularly to begin with on any one particular model. That there's still, I believe, a lot left to understand. The story's as yet unwritten, really. There's things that are becoming popular but it's changing rapidly enough that there's still a lot of opportunity for experimental stuff. We're not hitching ourselves to any one particular monetistation strategy out of the gate –we're looking at a sort of hybrid model. I think that largely our content will be free, but as to how you pay for it, there's lots of different ways you can do that which are appropriate to the type of game.

There's a tendency for the monetisation to drive the design, to the point where it becomes hard to move outside a particular design constraint, and we think that there's opportunity to do other ways of monetisation that allows for different styles of product, and for them all to co-exist. We're not out to do this type of monetisation, this type of product and that's the one that's going to be successful – we think there's still room for experimentation.

GamesIndustry.bizYou're not planning on FarmVIlle and Angry Birds clones, then?
Douglas Hare

I think there's lots of room. There are types of products that have become successful and it'd be silly to not look at them and try and determine aspects to them that maybe you feel are cool and you're interested in recreating yourself, but in terms of just doing raw lists from other successful games... There's certainly quite a few Angry Birds rip-offs and there's millions of Farmville games as well. In terms of doing straightforward rip-offs of successful projects, we're not really interested. That's not our game plan. I think you can learn things from looking at those types of products but that doesn't mean you have to try and recreate them.

GamesIndustry.bizYou guys have been around the block with games, seeing the industry change an awful lot during that time – as you're moving into social and mobile, how much do you feel 'traditional' gaming is over?
Douglas Hare

If you actually think about what is happening to the games industry right now, we have more people playing games now than ever before. The fact is they're playing some types of games that maybe people having been making, so I think there's pain going on right now across the board. But in the long term, in 10 years' time, 20 years' time, absolutely everyone on the planet or at least a vast percentage will have games as part of their lives. That can only ultimately be positive. I think that traditional games, huge products, they're not going away – it don't think it's going to disappear I just think all we're doing is expanding the styles of offering, we're not shrinking it.

Part of our interest in doing is these games is because they're so rapid. Having started in the games industry during the early years, there's something really exciting about having small teams working on rapidly-created products. It's a very cool sort of indie vibe, but it doesn't have to be marginalised. Indie doesn't necessarily mean no success, it can be big. It can mean massively successful, and there's already examples of that. There's clearly an audience for lots of different type of product. I don't think it's the death knell for anything, I just think it's an expanding thing.

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Alec Meer


A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.