Interviews

Interviews
Gamecock's Mike Wilson Chimes In

Joe Blancato | 15 Aug 2007 20:07
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We were able to fire off a few questions to Gamecock's Grand Champeen and CEO, Mike Wilson, about Gamecock's role as a publisher, as well as its image in the industry. What happens if they get as big as EA? Read on to find out.

The Escapist: Who are we talking to? What's your role at Gamecock? What's a normal day for you like?

Mike Wilson: Mike Wilson, Grand Champeen and CEO. Normal days rarely exist for a start-up with nine people and nine games in production. Things really get weird now that we have a couple about to ship in [October] (Fury and Dementium: The Ward).

I oversee our PR/marketing efforts mostly in addition to general creative direction and management. Harry Miller and Rick Stults, my partners at GodGames and again now, oversee development and finance, respectively.

But again, with a small crew (the way we like it) everyone gets to learn everyone's job at some point, which is great I think when you're trying to work as a team rather than some forced bureaucracy or hierarchy.

TE: Gamecock is born from the ashes of GodGames. What do you think the team has learned from their God experience?

MW: To be clear, our "ashes" weren't quite as tragic as people seem to recall. We built a worldwide brand in two years that resulted in eight games that sold over 1 million units on the PC. The only tragic part really was that it was mostly for [Take-Two's] benefit, not ours, and that we weren't able to stay independent as we had set out to. This was due to the fact that we never really got fully funded and that all of our money to operated came from TTWO through various deals with a ridiculous amount of strings attached, preventing us from raising additional capital elsewhere. Still, we built a company that took $25 million in and spit $400 million out three years later, and everyone involved made money, including all the developers who made hit games for us and got to own their IP.

So we basically learned two things:
1) Our business model works, and our system of green lighting projects resulted in a much higher "hit ratio" than any other publisher in our business
2) We needed a lot more capital to execute this business plan and be able to keep our principles intact.

So that's where we are now. Same principles, much better funding without the strings of being funded by a competitor or a Wall Street-driven company.

TE: God was criticized a lot for pushing the sexual envelope. Obviously, given Gamecock's name, some of their penchant for innuendo seems to have carried over to the new company. Does the new company draw the line differently than the old one?

MW: I honestly don't recall a lot of criticism for pushing any sexual envelope, except maybe the last year of the Promised Lot when we had the pole dancers (who did not strip [by the way]). But that was really all about our "farewell E3," once we knew we were leaving the industry for awhile and were just pulling out all the stops to show ourselves and our industry friends one last good time.

Both companies were/are about having a good time and not taking ourselves too seriously, while being very serious about the developers we work with and the games they are making.

TE: Gamecock is publishing a bunch of different games. For example, Fury is an MMOG, whereas Hail to the Chimp is a console party game. Is there some strategy here, or do you guys just go after games and teams you like?

MW: The only real strategy is to work with great independent teams on original projects, and the only unifying thread other than that is that we only want teams working on the projects that they really want to do, not what they think we want them to do or what seems to makes the most sense given last year's sales charts. Artistic innovation isn't driven by focus groups, committee or apparent industry trends. Decisions made using those metrics just result in self fulfilling prophecies and the constant churn of homogenized "big-ness." Top 40 radio, Big Hollywood, etc.

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