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Tameem Antoniades

Ninja Theory's creative director on multi-platform games and the challenge of independence

GamesIndustry.biz So shockingly, we could be in a position where publishers are actually looking for something that gamers care about - which is game quality?
Tameem Antoniades

Yes... I do believe that the actual idea behind a game, the concept, is pretty irrelevant. It's the execution that matters more than anything else.

GamesIndustry.biz Was there no temptation once Heavenly Sword was finished to work on a sequel?
Tameem Antoniades

We did actually want to do a sequel, and we did pursue that - but we're not a first party studio, we're a third party studio, and we knew that over the next few years we've got to be releasing multi-platform games. It was more of a strategic decision that we have to be multi-platform.

The game Heavenly Sword didn't sell enough to have a confident sequel, so it would have put ourselves as a development studio in a very precarious situation.

GamesIndustry.biz It must have been hard to leave it behind, though - any chance that if Sony came knocking, it's something you'd look at?
Tameem Antoniades

I'd never say never - but we've kind of moved on now. Our focus is on Enslaved, and making that successful. If we build a franchise out of it there's a lot of potential in the action-adventure space that surprisingly isn't that common.

There are a lot of FPS games, or fighting, or sports - but not a lot of really good quality multi-platform action-adventures. Our focus is on that now - to an extent, you've got to not look back.

GamesIndustry.biz And are you excited about getting into the phase where you're able to talk about Enslaved?
Tameem Antoniades

Yes - that's my focus now, to help raise the visibility of the game. It's amazing the amount of work you do to make a game - and I think this is easily the best game we've ever made, and the team is proud of what it's achieved, it was a good, confident project.

So I don't think there will be too many issues about the quality of the game - but that's only half the equation. The rest is whether the publisher can get it out there, will it capture people's imagination, is it going to sell?

That's the weird, difficult, sad thing about games, isn't it? It doesn't matter if the game is good to an extent... actually it does matter, but even if the game is great, that doesn't guarantee success.

GamesIndustry.biz Finally - given the difficulty of getting into the console space, if you were starting out in the games business today (but with the experience you have) what would be your angle of attack?
Tameem Antoniades

It's so difficult - I think back to when started, and how tough it was to get off the ground, and I think about how the console business is now... the barriers to entry are so much higher now, which is a bit of a shame. I don't think I'd tackle the console business now - I think I'd target the online space.

If you look at Jagex, also Cambridge-based, those guys started off in a small room in the same building as us, and they've grown spectacularly - and good on them. I think in the online space there is that opportunity for amazing growth, that you can knock it out of the park. But the barriers to entry are so low that there's so much competition.

GamesIndustry.biz You have to play the long term game doing it that way - you can't demand success in the first six months or that's it.
Tameem Antoniades

Yes - and things like social gaming is a buzzword. People chase the money, and that's where it's going. But as a studio we've always been passionate about the creative aspects, and for me a lot of social games hold very little interest. It's just not where I want to be.

Tameem Antoniades is creative director and co-founder of Ninja Theory. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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Phil Elliott