Summary: Remember Gathering of Developers? Mike Wilson, former head of the company, is founding a new publisher and talks with us all about it!
FiringSquad: First, you two co-founded the now legendary Gathering of Developers.
Mike Wilson: Actually, it's worth noting that Rick Stults, our CFO/COO at Gamecock was also a founding member of G.O.D. He was the responsible one then, too. :)
FiringSquad: Your new Gamecock Media web site has a note from Mike where he gives his thoughts on what happened with G.O.D. Do you really feel that if Max Payne had been released a year earlier that G.O.D. would still be around?
Mike Wilson: Well, who knows what would have happened, but the amount of money generated by these hit games that came too late for us would have floated a company our size for a looong time. :) Of course, the console versions sold much more than the PC version (even tho it was WAY better on PC) and our hands were tied to PC with our Take Two deal, even before they bought us. Eventually, this would have been a major problem for us anyway... it wasn't nice bringing all these properties to the table and then having to hand them to another label. :)
FiringSquad: It's been a few years since the shutdown of G.O.D. Was it always your intention to get back to publishing video and PC games?
Mike Wilson: No, when we left we really didn't think we'd be returning... it was a very emotional time for us, losing our best friend and partner Doug Myres right at the same time as we could feel our company being stripped away from us. We really felt like we had failed in our great crusade and I honestly didn't even look at anything videogames related for a couple of years.
FiringSquad: Your web site states that Gamecock is currently being financed by some secret partners. Why do the financial partners not want their identities known?
Mike Wilson: Well, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense... they are 2 super high net worth individuals basically, and they gain nothing by 'advertising' their participation except a million phone calls from people looking for money. The main investor runs several other media companies of his own as well, and some of those might not jive well with what we are doing. Plus, they want it to be clear that this is our show... they are not from games and do not pretend to be experts in it, unlike just about every other source of funding we could have found. :)
Mike Wilson: Absolutely. The basic issue is IP ownership. We think the artists should have it, and that a publisher owning creative control of a game (or any artistic endeavor) is a recipe for disaster. Especially for public companies... they just have too many artificial incentives to make poor creative decisions... quarterly demands, pressure for growth, pressure to own everything.
FiringSquad: You have already announced five games that are coming from Gamecock. How hard was it to get all these developers to sign up with your start up company?
Mike Wilson: Really easy, actually... in fact several of these teams waited a long time for us to finish our funding deal. Wideload in particular could have signed any number of deals back before E3 and chose to wait it out and fund the game on their own in hopes we'd get our deal done, which we did. I mean, we're letting them make the games they want to make, we're branding them over us, paying great royalties if the game is a hit, and we have alot of money to spend. Pretty easy sell. :)
FiringSquad: Gamecock looks like it will have the great sense of humor that G.O.D. did in marketing and promoting its games. Will we see events like the G.O.D. E3 tent to promote the label and its games?
Mike Wilson: Absolutely. It kills me that this industry is so friggin stale and boring. Why? We make GAMES... we have a total license to be wacky and fun. Let the accountants and insurance people of the world be boring... I mean I know that Doug Lowenstein wants us all to grow up, but I tell you that's a HUGE mistake. We need to grow DOWN if anything. We're bringin stupid back, baby.
FiringSquad: The games industry seems to be shifting slowly towards digital downloads as a way to distribute games. How does Gamecock intent to use this trend and do you feel it is good or bad for the industry?
Mike Wilson: That shift has been a long and slow one that folks have been talking about for as long as I've been in the business (remember Quake encryped shareware?) :) Glaciers have melted since we started talking about this. Seriously, the digital downloads market has gotten a great kick in the pants in the past year and I'm all for it... anything that opens up the channels for gamers to get exposed to more games. But 95% of the business is still about shipping boxes to stores, and I doubt that'll change too rapidly... but it wouldn't be a bad thing. I personally would love to not own any more discs for any media... but then I also wear a chicken mask, cape, and boxing gloves in public on a regular basis. Not sure I'm a representative sample.
FiringSquad: The next gen console race is in full bloom now. What is Gamecock's position on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii and which do you think will be more popular with the masses?
Mike Wilson: Our position is that we're going to make great original games for whatever platforms make the most sense for the product and the team's expertise. Everyone is thrilled that the Wii livened things up so much... what a ballsy and genius move by Nintendo. But it's certainly a marathon, not a sprint, so only time will tell. It's a fun race to watch, but I certainly wouldn't want to be running in it. :)
Mike Wilson: PC Gaming is starting to rock again! It's about time. We certainly will always have a soft spot for PC games, since they are definitely still the most rich experience for those willing to deal with the bugs and patches and playing at your desk versus the living room. Not sure that'll ever be a bigger group than the console market... its kind of like the amount of people willing to read a great book versus the amount who will just wait for the crappy movie version. Alot more people like crappy movies, sadly. :) I definitely do enjoy certain aspects of console gaming more, such as turning it on and knowing it'll work, and playing with people in more of a social setting (living room). Of course, I guess our living rooms will be all PC-run soon enough... that might really suck come to think of it.
FiringSquad: What other video and PC game development trends do you see Gamecock taking advantage of?
Mike Wilson: We're taking advantage of the developers having been beated down creatively to within an inch of their lives ... our souls at least. GREAT developers are dying to work on something original that they can own and control and get the credit for. Our initial lineup is awesome, but you can bet you'll be seeing some more big announcements in the coming months.
FiringSquad: How do game developers contact you to pitch their game projects to Gamecock?
Mike Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org ... it's on our website... pretty straightforward. We're still a very small team now, and we are getting buried in submissions already, so patience is appreciated.
FiringSquad: The initial line-up of games is certainly varied and contains a number of games that perhaps larger game publishers might shy away from. Is it your intention to look at more electic projects over games that might be well produced but are more standard in theme and tone?
Mike Wilson: We want to work with awesome teams on the games they are dying to make. Some of those games will be really out there, and some will probably be derivitive... as long as the team is stoked to be making the game and we're excited about marketing it.
FiringSquad: The web site has one box hidden among the announced games as "Coming Soon". Can you give us any hints at all about that title?
Mike Wilson: hmmmm... well, several developers made an awful lot of money with Gathering ... those that made hits for us made great royalties and owned their IP. So you might see some of them eager to work with us again... don't ya think? :) FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about your plans for Gamecock Media? Mike Wilson: Yes, I want to remind everyone out there that we should all be in this for fun... otherwise what are we doing? ... just sayin.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about your plans for Gamecock Media?
Mike Wilson: Yes, I want to remind everyone out there that we should all be in this for fun... otherwise what are we doing? ... just sayin.
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