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The I-Play Perspective

David Gosen speaks to <i>GamesIndustry.biz</i> about recent company restructuring and the way forward

Following the news that I-Play has made redundancies in order to better restructure the business to meet oncoming challenges, GamesIndustry.biz spoke exclusively to the company's CEO, David Gosen, to find out more.


First of all, what is the story regarding redundancies at I-Play?

Well, I-Play is a division of Oberon, and I think it's important that I just set the context for some of the events that have happened.

From an Oberon corporate perspective, the company has just concluded a round of significant financing led by - amongst others - Goldman Sachs and Oak Investment Partners to really enable us a substantial cash position for the overall group of companies, to execute the vision and plan over the coming years.

What happened yesterday is a function of the desire for the group to continue to lead the casual games industry. What's quite interesting is that Oberon, in the past ten months, has completed five acquisitions. And what we're seeing really is a function of post-acquisition integration to a large extent across a number of the business which isn't uncommon when this sort of event takes place.

The other thing that's important is that as I-Play and Oberon have moved into Eastern Europe, what we have is a foundation for scaling the casual games business - that both businesses are involved in - and that foundation creates a very good base for us to grow the business over the coming years.

That's the context within which we're having this discussion - it's a function of integration, and it's a function of an off-shoring programme to drive efficiency and really give us the best platform to scale the mobile, online and iTV businesses over the coming years.

Are you able to give us any specific details on the redundancies at this time?

Well, from an I-Play-specific viewpoint, to make clear where we are as a business - we are a top five mobile games publisher in the Europe and US, more than ten of our portfolio titles are million-dollar sellers, we have the best-rated titles in that portfolio with over nine million downloads for the Fast and the Furious, and we have games, such as our Pool franchise, which is over a million, and the Jewel Quest franchise which is over three million, as well as original IP such as My Dog well on the way to a million.

So we have a great and proven business, an established portfolio of games, some of the best technology in the marketplace and a reputation for quality that I think is probably not beaten by anybody.

But again, it's a similar position, because as we look at the business, the overall acquisition, there are opportunities and synergies for us to really find a way to look at the costs of the business, and as we continue to drive the top lines through new licenses, we have to look at the cost base of the business - and the acquisition by Oberon does provide us with integration opportunities.

So we have made some redundancies across the business, but also we driving our own off-shoring programme. We have a very successful and established studio out in Bucharest - we've had that nearly a year now. And as we look at the industry, I think there's an industry challenge here.

The cost of developing is increasing, the number of devices that we have to cover increases, the demands of the carrier continue to increase, and as a successful business in order to scale and grow we have to truly ensure that we have the solid foundation for that future growth, in a way that we continue to be successful as a business.

So it means that we're looking at accelerating our offshore development and relocating a number of our core functions from the UK to Bucharest in Romania.

According to our sources there are a number of redundancies between the Dunfermline and the US, is that accurate?

I can't give you any specific numbers, we don't publicise any of our commercial numbers. This is really a matter between us and the individuals concerned.

But no management positions are to be cut, we understand?

Again, I can't comment on the specific numbers or the specific positions. But again - this is about creating the framework for the business to continue to be successful over the coming years.

Both the Oberon group of companies, and I-Play within that, do see the future in terms of mobile, online, iTV - ultimately the triple play which brings great entertainment on three screens - as being a truly compelling opportunity.

We believe that these actions will put us at the forefront of that cross-platform play and both companies remain incredibly excited about the prospects for not only the industry, but of course for our individual businesses as well.

David Gosen is the CEO of I-Play. Interview by Phil Elliott.

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