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Sega's Gary Dunn

The European development boss discusses new motion tech, the 2012 Olympics and Sega's "crack team" of fixers

As managing director of European development for Sega, Gary Dunn is responsible for all internal studios, including Sports Interactive and The Creative Assembly, as well as running external development with partners such as Rebellion and Sumo Digital.

In this exclusive interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Dunn talks about the publishers recent experiment with mature-rated titles for Nintendo's Wii, why he would personally love to work on a 2012 Olympics game, developing Sonic titles outside of Japan, and why he thinks Sega can get ahead of the competition on new motion control technology.

GamesIndustry.biz As well as your main studios – both internally and external partners – you also have a small specialised Technology Group, can you tell us what they do specifically?
Gary Dunn

They are six of the cleverest developers you'll find. They do all sorts and are our crack team. We have an art director in there, probably one of the best graphics programmers in the business, and some very good general game programmers. We use them as a crack team and they go all over. Their first job was to do the PlayStation 3 version of Viking: Battle for Asgard which they did in eight weeks.

GamesIndustry.biz So they're fixers, taking care of issues quickly. Are they just there for problem issues?
Gary Dunn

It's all supply and demand and they do have some quieter periods. They were all actually members of the racing studio before we closed it down. Six individuals that were so talented that we weren't going to let them go to Codemasters. They did Viking just before we sold the studio and it seemed to absolutely make sense to keep that talent.

They're worked on Sonic, they've worked on Bayonetta, their breadth is huge. They're a broad support team. We deploy them in two ways. One is as a crack team when there's a problem, but also when we want to guide and shape a project, and it allows us to get better results from the same game team we were working with.

GamesIndustry.biz What's the focus for overall Sega development in Europe and your internal studios?
Gary Dunn

Certainly in Europe our key focus is making the most of our own brands. With Total War we've done a whole road map and planned out the series with some exciting things which I can't talk about yet, but to evolve the franchise and monetise it better. With Football Manager, we've launched Football Manager Live, we're still doing PSP content, and again it's a case of making sure it's available on the appropriate devices. That was one of the reasons we stopped doing it on Xbox 360, we looked at sales and it wasn't an appropriate format. There are other devices where it's much better suited, and not just the main game.

GamesIndustry.biz Are you looking at different business models with those key franchises?
Gary Dunn

That's the sort of thing we're investigating at the moment, but it's just too early to be explicit what our plans are.

GamesIndustry.biz You've been one of the first publishers to release mature-rated content for the Wii, and others are following. But have you been disappointed with sales of House of the Dead: Overkill and MadWorld?
Gary Dunn

House of the Dead: Overkill was a profitable title for us. Whilst it had a rather sharp tail at full price, they do bubble away at a lower price point for a long time. You get your money back and a bit on full price, but over the years, if we do the final product return on investment, profits come from the lower price point. On that were were hoping for higher sales because the marketing was so in depth. It wasn't a bad performance, it was a great value for money proposition for us as a development exercise.

GamesIndustry.biz It was an experimental approach compared to the amount of cute product on the console. Do you still think there's a market for mature titles on the Wii?
Gary Dunn

We had some hints when we released Ghost Squad and House of the Dead: 2 & 3 Return on the Wii which sold really well, it was great business. So that was one of things that allowed us to have the confidence to want to experiment and push it further. And with MadWorld, which came out of our Platinum Games relationship, we wanted to get behind the products because we thought it was a really strong product. You have to push boundaries and explore. I think whilst MadWorld commercially didn't sell what we were expecting I wouldn't say it's game over for mature Wii titles from Sega. We need another few months of sales data and see where we have available resources and support.

We're taking a look at the resources we have now. We've got money to invest in development, we're just considering where to invest it next and the honest answer is we've not made a decision on that yet.

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Matt Martin

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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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