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  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by FW
    I do not believe in DRM as a method of fighting piracy. Our way of fighting piracy is trying to give more value to people who actually bought the game.


    Right now Paradox seems to be divided between its historical game in-house design team and it's rapidly growing publishing arm. Where do you think future growth will come from for Paradox? Do you see any future growth of in-house publishing, or will that team stay small and focused on strategy?

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacehusky View Post


    Right now Paradox seems to be divided between its historical game in-house design team and it's rapidly growing publishing arm. Where do you think future growth will come from for Paradox? Do you see any future growth of in-house publishing, or will that team stay small and focused on strategy?
    Both. Publishing is a big arm for Paradox, and is definitely an area for large growth potential. However, their core backbone is the grand strategy games, and with the money coming in from publishing, Paradox could end up buying other studios in the future, expanding it's base. Maybe not, who knows really, but the potential is quite large.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen.Schuermann View Post
    With all the social networking, do you see yourself releasing something like a Hoi-lite or something for Facebook/etc.?

    Or a CK-lite with all the scheming, etc.?
    You steal the idea I posted in the OT forum.

    But yes, has Paradox considered getting into the rapidly growing mobile gaming market?

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elecwaves View Post
    Both. Publishing is a big arm for Paradox, and is definitely an area for large growth potential. However, their core backbone is the grand strategy games, and with the money coming in from publishing, Paradox could end up buying other studios in the future, expanding it's base. Maybe not, who knows really, but the potential is quite large.
    Correct. We are looking for different kinds of growth opportunities, but the grand strategy games remain our core.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen.Schuermann View Post
    Hmmm the more i think about it the more interesting it becomes.
    Problem is the game have to be free of charge i guess, but then you could always go the Farmville route with ads and ingame cash to be bought with real cash. Plus the free PR for your other games you offer, like "if you like CK lite, maybe you'd also enjoy the real deal?"

    Quick, Johan, Fredrik, or whoever, start brainstorming!
    They should also make a version for the smarthphone market. There Paradox can get money.
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  6. #26
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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrik II View Post
    Very good! I wish I had thought of that title.

    Did you do that through email or was that a skype or telephone interview?

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qikdraw View Post
    Very good! I wish I had thought of that title.

    Did you do that through email or was that a skype or telephone interview?
    Yes, I really liked the name; I think, if I ever start a blog, that will be the name of it.

    It was an interview at this years GDC.
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  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrik II View Post
    They seriously expects me to register just so I can read an interview...

    The other one was interesting, though I'm worried about the lack of denunciation of DRMs like the one ubisoft invented (really, I need an active connection for every single second I play lest the game fakes a crash, great idéa!).
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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrik II View Post
    Yes, I really liked the name; I think, if I ever start a blog, that will be the name of it.


    It was an interview at this years GDC.
    One day I hope to go.

    Did you attend any of the panels or talks? If so which ones? Do you like the GDC better than E3?

  11. #31
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    Can someone copy/paste the interview? I don't want to register.
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  12. #32
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    The Wester Front

    Paradox Interactive has quietly gone about building up quite a reputation in the videogames industry, growing from a developer of high strategy PC games to a publisher for a range of titles, as well as spilling out into digital distribution platform Gamersgate - now a separate company.

    Here, company CEO Fredrik Wester talks about the business in the past year, the forthcoming expansion from PC-only onto downloadable console platforms, and offers his thoughts on how social media might play a part in future games.

    Q: So how's business been in the past year or so?

    Fredrik Wester: From the perspective of the number of units sold, we've never sold more on the PC than we did in 2009, so you could say that the rumours of the death of the PC are greatly exaggerated. Digital download has really come in as a big commercial thing for us - 2010 will be the first year where we earn more money on digital download then we do in retail revenue, which is huge for us. It was around 40 per cent in 2009, so this year we're going even more towards digital.

    Q: So what does that tell you about the PC market? The trend towards online business isn't likely to reverse?

    Fredrik Wester: I think the reason for the growth on the PC market, that's happening on traditional PC games, is because a lot of pirates are being converted into paying users. If you take services like Steam and Gamersgate (that I was a part of founding in 2006), there's better accessibility, it's easier to download, there are services connected to the legitimate purchases - and that's led to less piracy.

    I don't think there's a revival for PC gaming, or that the number of users are actually increasing - but that's how I see it, at least.

    Q: Paradox has built itself up from a specific focus on high strategy - whether it's word of mouth, or more people looking online, but over time more people know exactly where to go to get those kinds of games.

    Fredrik Wester: That's right - we've come from a niche. But there are a few games we're publishing this year that are a step away from the types of games we've traditionally published - however, in our niche we're pretty much the only company left, so we're able to dominate the map-based strategy genre. It's kind of small, but we're doing good business on it.

    The recent purchase of AGEOD, the French company that basically make the same games we do, was strategically very important for both companies. They didn't want to engage too much in the publishing - and Paradox as an umbrella for niche strategy games is growing as well.

    Q: There's a degree of challenge involved with branching out from that initial niche - how do you approach that, in terms of bringing them to market?

    Fredrik Wester: It's like taking baby steps - we're not launching big triple-A console titles, where we print Xbox games and ship them to stores. We're starting with download platforms - PlayStation Network and hopefully XBLA as well - and that way we're reducing risk.

    'Best in class' is a term that I want to use - so a game has to deliver something great. We can't ever go into the Elder Scrolls territory, because we'd need a budget of about $50 million to try, and we don't have that kind of money. So we're looking for games that have an edge - some sort of attitude - and that can be delivered right to gamers.

    Q: And how much do those console download platforms rely on relationships? They're not open platforms, unlike the PC. Has that been relatively straightforward, because there are a lot of people trying to break into that space.

    Fredrik Wester: That's right - PlayStation has been very positive and open about the games we're looking to publish. XBLA has been around for longer, and they have a longer queue of titles wanting to get in, so it's been harder to get hold of Microsoft to get everything into place, and get into that line.

    We're yet to get approval for our first XBLA game, but we're developing for consoles - you just can't really mention which ones you're on. Microsoft has been cautiously positive.

    Q: At the end of the day, Microsoft is keen to protect its platform... Is there much appetite when you have those conversations for exclusives to their platforms?

    Fredrik Wester: The exclusives discussion is always there - the first question you always get when you're coming up with a game is: "Can we have this as an exclusive?" Of course we want to sell to as many platforms as possible, that's no secret to any publisher, but with the right contract and the right terms we could do an exclusive - it's just that at the moment we're struggling to get a game out there on consoles, so that's our first focus.

    In that discussion, I think PlayStation needs to be more aggressive because XBLA has more content as of today. So PSN is more positive towards new content and new publishers, such as Paradox.

    Q: You had your convention earlier this year - can you see an increase in interest with each passing event?

    Fredrik Wester: Yes, I think so - it's the third time we've done it, and by far the biggest event we've had, and it was a very positive response. It wasn't just a media thing, but we also had our partners come along as well, including digital distribution partners. Both Steam and Direct2Drive were there, and of course Gamersgate... they're in the same office as us anyway...

    Q: Interesting - technically, Stardock, Steam and the rest are all competitors with Gamersgate [a Paradox sister company] so is that generally a more collaborative space?

    Fredrik Wester: Well, I'm not operationally involved in Gamersgate now - we're really only sharing offices. But I do think the PC gaming market is really friendly overall. You have coffee or drink beer together, shake hands and have a good time.

    What I really liked was that the guys from Steam that came over were very relaxed - they're by far the dominating player in the download business, and everyone knows it. So we don't need to compare ourselves, or try to pretend we're bigger.

    Q: One of the titles you announced at the convention was Magna Mundi - a new title that started life as a popular mod for one your key games, Europa Universalis III. How did that deal come about?

    Fredrik Wester: I look a lot at what others are doing in this business, and I'm impressed by a couple of other development and publishing companies. Among them is Steam - Valve is a great company, and they've done business for a long time. When you see how their product portfolio evolved and they got a dominating niche in their space - which is far bigger than ours - they got help from mod teams as well.

    Look at Left4Dead, Counter-Strike - all the big games that originally come from Half-Life - so we started asking what we could do along those lines with the Europa Universalis franchise. We looked at the different mods, contacted some teams - Magna Mundi is by far the most popular mod, and from our perspective it's quite a different game from EUIII.

    A lot of the mods are just extra stuff, or graphical improvements or whatever, but MM has something to offer to the gamers that EUIII can't do. So we asked Carlos, who's the brain behind MM if he could actually make a game that was good enough to put in a box and ship to stores. Of course, he said yes...

    Then we asked him for a game design - if we gave him a budget that was x hundred thousand Euros, what would he do with it? That's how it started, and we discussed it for 3-4 months - then development started in October last year. We hope to have it some time next year - we'll see, it's a new team, a new thing for us, but a very interesting opportunity, because our engine is just as moddable as, for example, the Valve Source engine.

    Q: What sort of message does that send to the community?

    Fredrik Wester: I hope it sends positive signals - if you do some good things you could have your game published by Paradox. We're looking to dominate the niche even further, and have quite a range of games within that genre, to fulfil the needs of all the military history nerds! [smiles]

    Q: Any thoughts on Europa Universalis IV?

    Fredrik Wester: People always ask that - I give the same fuzzy replies. First we need to think about how much we can really add to EUIII and it's three add-ons. If you ask me, I don't think we're finished with EUIII yet - I want to make another add-on, and there's lots of discussion we're having constantly, like what kind of DLC we can do, where we can put our time, and so on.

    Look at Heir to the Throne [the latest add-on] - the original game was released over three years ago, and Heir just gave it a big boost, and we're selling loads of it online. So the game is still very much alive.

    Q: So with add-ons and mods, and mods becoming full games - is that a more suitable direction for the franchise in your mind?

    Fredrik Wester: I think there will be an EU4 eventually - we just need to know how revolutionary that game can be, compared to EU3. What will it add that the game doesn't already have? I look at Civilization V, and one of the selling points is that it's hex-based... which I think is a bit weak. The intro movie was great, but I couldn't really see why I should play that instead of Civilization IV - and for EU4 I want that to be obvious to the players.

    Q: So while we're on the subject of Civilization - what about EU on Facebook, then?

    Fredrik Wester: Well... we were having some discussions about Hearts of Iron on Facebook, where your nationality actually adds to the gameplay - so if you're German, you'll play as Germany... but Facebook is a new animal to us. It's a new gold rush for gaming companies - two years ago it was the Nintendo DS that was going to save the world; then it was the iPhone; now it's Facebook.

    It has the same rules as everything else for whether a brand will sell. So if we launch Europa or Hearts of Iron on Facebook, it just needs to be a good game - because if it is, we'll make money. If you look like a game like Mafia Wars, it's not a good game, it's not co-operative... although it fakes that co-operation between players. I played it myself for a few days, and realised I wasn't playing with anyone - it looks like it, but it's a marketing method.

    I think as the quality increases and the consciousness of the users also increases - when you see who's playing the games, it's people who don't normally play games. They have 50 million users, but as they grow more quality-conscious the games will get better - and the brands will sell, because people know titles like Civilization, for example.

    But Facebook is very interesting - I think what we're going to do is tie our current games more into Facebook. So if you play Hearts of Iron III and invade Poland, you'll get a pop-up asking you if you want to tell your friends about that. You can have automatic Facebook or Twitter connections to your games - that's more how we see social media, rather than anything else. But it's certainly changed the landscape of games, that's for sure.

    Fredrik Wester is CEO of Paradox Interactive. Interview by Phil Elliott.

    There ya go. A VERY good interview.

  13. #33
    Arnoldson Fnordgren Demi Moderator RedRalphWiggum's Avatar

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    If you ask me, I don't think we're finished with EUIII yet -

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRalphWiggum View Post
    Indeed!

    Come on folks, it's already the best game on the market!
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  15. #35
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    Q: So how's business been in the past year or so?

    Fredrik Wester: From the perspective of the number of units sold, we've never sold more on the PC than we did in 2009, so you could say that the rumours of the death of the PC are greatly exaggerated. Digital download has really come in as a big commercial thing for us - 2010 will be the first year where we earn more money on digital download then we do in retail revenue, which is huge for us. It was around 40 per cent in 2009, so this year we're going even more towards digital....
    It's hardly surprising that digital download sales have made more money than retail sales when the only way to obtain the most recent titles is via digital download. I purchased retail boxed versions of Hearts of Iron III, Europa Universalis III, as well as the entire Hearts of Iron II series and I can't buy the latest expansions for any of them except via digital download. Somehow that just doesn't seem right.
    Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. --Calvin Coolidge

  16. #36
    High Priestess of Paradox Susana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greybriar View Post
    It's hardly surprising that digital download sales have made more money than retail sales when the only way to obtain the most recent titles is via digital download. I purchased retail boxed versions of Hearts of Iron III, Europa Universalis III, as well as the entire Hearts of Iron II series and I can't buy the latest expansions for any of them except via digital download. Somehow that just doesn't seem right.
    The reason is the difficulty to get placement on store shelf and the costs of printing boxed expansion. It just does not make financial sense unless you are a publishing giant. You can choose to look at it this way - since most expansion eventually make it into printed boxes (Collections etc) you can wait and get your boxed expansion from retail or get it immediately via digital retail. Now that's freedom of choice in my book

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    East vs West developer DvD-IT's Avatar
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    So if you play Hearts of Iron III and invade Poland, you'll get a pop-up asking you if you want to tell your friends about that. You can have automatic Facebook or Twitter connections to your games
    I might be a Facebook hater, but the mere thought of this idea makes me shudder.

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susana View Post
    ....You can choose to look at it this way - since most expansion eventually make it into printed boxes (Collections etc) you can wait and get your boxed expansion from retail....
    That is pretty much what I have been doing, and I don't know off the top of my head just how many duplicates of each game I have acquired by doing so. When I buy the compilation packs and think I have the *complete* collection of a particular game (Europa Universalis III Complete, e.g.), along comes an expansion. Sometimes they are even released several years later, like Arsenal of Democracy and For the Glory.

    I just prefer the retail boxed version with a manual, map, and whatever other "goodies" are included with it.

    Thank you for your response, Susana. I do appreciate it.
    Last edited by Greybriar; 20-04-2010 at 23:27.
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  19. #39
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    I felt that I was actually getting enlightened in how Paradox is run. You spoke straight from the guts during the interview, and didn't just use an opportunity for free PR. I'd especially like to applaud the honesty in the statements "Lead & Gold was a shortcut for us into the console realm and that was a major reason for signing it" and "[Stalin vs Martians] didn’t turn out great, and I am the one to blame for signing it. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

    In other words, great interview.

    Follow-up question: Currently, Paradox Interactive is both a development studio and a game publisher. As the publishing part grows ever larger, how will that affect the corporate structure and the joint infrastructure with Paradox's internal development studio?

    Oh, and:

    FW: I am unaware of other CEOs making this type of bet. When this happens, we will of course share it with the fans.
    Does this mean you're now a believer in Vicky 2's profitability?
    Last edited by Sebastian Jarl; 21-04-2010 at 15:04. Reason: Clarity

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastian Jarl View Post
    I'd especially like to applaud the honesty in the statements "Lead & Gold was a shortcut for us into the console realm and that was a major reason for signing it" and "The game didn’t turn out great, and I am the one to blame for signing it. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
    I agree with your sentiment, but the second comment was about Stalin vs. Martians, not about Lead & Gold, I think you'll find.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastian Jarl View Post
    Does this mean you're now a believer in Vicky 2's profitability?
    Heh - good spot!
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