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I enjoyed ending up in familiar gaming leaders at Gamescom and Devcom in Germany. One of these was Chris Kassulke, who started the mobile game pubisher HandyGames along with his brother Markus and Udo Bausewein in 2000.
Kassulke is definitely a fan of checking out new things, from the initial smartphones in the times prior to the iPhone to virtual reality. He was an early on believer in the Nintendo Switch and free-to-play games.
Some of these things exercised well, plus some didnt. But HandyGames found a method to last for many years and obtain downloads in the vast sums. So that it was interesting to listen to Kassulke say he wasnt thinking about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) after studying it closely.
Kassulke hasnt seen reasonable for game developers to look at NFTs, nor does he observe how its best for consumers. Instead, he could be centered on making indie games that deliver good gameplay, just like the recently launched Endling: Extinction is forever, that is a moving game concerning the last of the foxes.
Handy Games has a lot more than 100 people and its own hiring. Its now section of Embracer Group, as THQ Nordic acquired Handy Games on 2018.
Heres an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: Did you find out pretty in early stages that youre no NFT guy?
Chris Kassulke: WHEN I mentioned, its really concerning the value that people dont see for the buyer. I view it when attempting to finance something for another product, things like that. But Im uncertain in case a character from Game A, it is possible to move easily to Game B, because i quickly cant tell the precise story. It may be interesting for guns or something similar to that in specific games. Also, when youre moving it in one platform to another, its already highly complex, if its in the mobile space, from iOS to Google Play and a Samsung device. Thats quite complex. Should you choose that from PlayStation to Xbox to change and to PCor say youre attempting to go from an Epic game to 1 youve downloaded on Steam, thats another big topic. The thing is real.
If someone can show me one good example where it brings value to the buyer, and not simply by letting you know is it possible to sell it for additional money in the futurethats only a Ponzi scheme. Thats not what you want to do. You want to develop great games. You want to tell stories with this games. As you can plainly see, Endling tells an extended story. Where may i sell an NFT for the reason that? It doesnt feel great. Thats what I believe.
GamesBeat: I talked to other folks like Will Wright. He didnt have a vociferous defense of NFTs, but he did believe that because theyre very centered on user-generated content, thats a location where having the ability to properly identify who created what and providing them with some type of ownership stake matters.
Kassulke: But when you can copy it again and sell it again? Thats my problem that I’ve there. Everyone could make whatever nice apes or whatever on the market. Wheres the uniqueness?
GamesBeat: They watched how people ripped one another off with The Sims. The Sims content was made again and again, and then it had been also stolen again and again. That they had no solution for that.
Kassulke: I see lots of issues with the authorities all over the world. Indirectly, easily buy something for five dollars or whatever and sell it for $5,000, thats profit. Whichever government really wants to take a large amount of that. You haven’t any solution. You may have a marketplace or whatever, but all the best with that. Youre a developer. You need to care for that by the end of your day, and I wish you luck. I see no solution there. You can find way too many challenges. I love challenges. We execute a large amount of prototyping. We execute a large amount of new technology. We did the initial mobile games on the market, the initial free-to-play games. However they went in a direction we dont desire to go.
GamesBeat: Has that affected your view of the metaverse aswell? Do you have the same way about this?
Kassulke: I dont likeeveryone is hunting the metaverse, but I doubt theres one right now. Yes, lots of investments are likely to the metaverse. Many people are saying, This is actually the metaverse. No. We’ve games where we say, This may grow right into a metaverse if it has enough users behind it. But is that where I would like to go, like Second Life? I havent seen anything like this. When I saw the posts from Mark Zuckerberg, hes advertising the metaverse now like this? Youre destroying stuff there.
Will there be a Minecraft or Roblox or whatever that may evolve into that? Maybe. But might it be something evolving where one company holds it? I doubt that. Its dangerous. Specific markets around the world arent allowing Facebook or allowing Google. If you wish to have a genuine metaverse you have to be atlanta divorce attorneys country all over the world. Thats not what I see right now. Those will be the challenges we have to overcome with that. Maybe there could be a metaverse, but I dont like what I see right now.
GamesBeat: Back again to the usual games, then.
Kassulke: Single-player games. I’ve no issue with that. We’ve multiplayer games. Thats no problem. I think many people are focusing on NFTs. Im quite happy I didnt spend money on NFTs, because I’d have less overall than easily put it in the currency markets, that is also a little crazy right now. Lets see where it goes. But currently what we see is that the users just like the premium model again, even yet in the mobile game space, because of guys like Netflix plus some other guys that are doing subscription services again. You’d things such as Jamster and Jamba within Germany back your day, where that they had subscription services happening. Now many people are heading back to subscription services, like Amazon Prime. We see Luna approaching there. Many people are discussing Netflix and their next moves. Lets see where that goes. But also for that, free-to-play games arent what theyre searching for. Theyre searching for premium games. They would like to tell stories. Thats where we result from. We’ve consumer goods experience with games.
Once you play Endlingyou can have a look at most of the media thats on the market. You see players crying by the end of the overall game, and through the game aswell. They have the largest emotions theyve had in games for a long period. Thats not at all something lots of guys can perform. Its something you want to do. You may call it an artistic sort of game. But when you have a tale behind there, a casino game that goes beyond the normal shootingits not just a huge game. It is possible to finish it in 4 or 5 hours. Nonetheless it touches you. Its as with certain movies. You see it. It doesnt just go from your head. Thats what we produce.
We cant do this just with NFTs. NFTs are about business. When I see what happened in the Philippines, people going bankrupt now since they were told they may be rich should they could spend money on gamesthey spent real cash to get their way right into a game, since they hoped it might get bigger down the road. Im uncertain if we are in need of that. It’ll hurt the complete game industry. Also, in the discussion concerning the metaversea large amount of end individuals are discussing NFTs and blockchain and metaverse all in exactly the same breath, because its something they dont understand, really. Were talking more about games and what the experiences could be there. We have to get back to trust, to the emotions of games. Thats what you want to do. Few games are developing single-player games anymore nowadays. Im not necessarily unhappy there.
Today we released, for instance, ARE YOU CURRENTLY Smarter When compared to a Fifth Grader? Its not the largest IP ever, but again, youre playing something together with your family. It is possible to play around eight players using one device, since it brings the household together. When can you play a quiz game? Its not usually online, since it isnt that much fun. You play it when youre round the Christmas tree, playing a casino game together. Whether its on the Switch or on a PC or on a TV. Thats what you want to have. Its an excellent feeling, once you play a casino game like this. Im not considering shit I have to pay for over and over. I dont have to buy three more creatures to mix and obtain rich. Thats not what I’d like. Its not why I wish to make games.
Everyone that joins the games industry, they love games. Its a passion. I dont start to see the passion around NFTs for myself. Thats why we say no. If theres someone on the market who says, Yeah, I wish to do it now, take action. Get rich. Burn some capital raising. I dont really care. Its another thing. But also for me, dont destroy the games market with something similar to that. Thats not nice.
GamesBeat: How may be the Embracer life going? They will have so many studios alongside one another.
Kassulke: Yes, but its working. They are able to produce their games, what they think makes most sense for his or her studios. I love the freedom we’ve there. Im not afraid that someone can be creating a similar game. Its exactly the same family. In the event that you feel the halls, its quite interesting to see precisely what now is one of the Embracer Group, but Im not afraid of, whatever, Coffee Stain. We are able to learn from one another. Theyre doing stuff differently. Im not afraid at all.
GamesBeat: Are you currently guys sort of making games with out a dependence on milestones to persuade the publisher that youre making progress?
Kassulke: Were the publisher and developer. Were dealing with our developers on milestones needless to say, because thats section of that. But I believe COVID changed a whole lot. We see lots of studios, and not just within Handy Games, that people work withthey got hit heavily. Working at home wasnt helping. It affected everyone. Everyone considered how remote work could be integrated over time. But we see in the complete games industry that its not necessarily helping.
Its a team effort to build up this type of huge game. Were back from three guys creating a game. Its about 20 guys, 50 guys, 100 guys and much more creating a game. That should be an excellent experience. Thats an enormous challenge now, returning together to make a game. Thats another challenge for everybody thats developing bigger games right now. Thats why so many games around the world are delayed, I believe. The quality needs to be there, when everything fits together again.
GamesBeat: I talked to 1 company that has been getting funding from Netease. They said they didnt require milestones. They said, We trust you.
Kassulke: Im sorry. Ive experienced the for such a long time. There have to be some type of milestones. Needless to say it could be very flexible. Things appear continuously, whether its a fresh Unity version, a fresh Unreal version, whatever. New platforms might arrive. A game ought to be developed for all your platforms on the market, whether its PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, Stadia, Luna, even mobile. Even though its premium. But thats what you want to push further, step-by-step. We showcased Wreckfest now on mobile. Were showcasing that at the booth. Thats possible on a mobile device now.
If you need to try out another things, thats where you need to possess a game. The IP gets stronger. With every new platform you reach new consumers. Plus, youre perhaps reaching somebody who played on PS4 previously, and now they would like to play on mobile because theyre away from home. Theyve changed their behavior. Thats a large topic. You should to push out a game on each and every platform on the market, whether itstake Stadia for instance. I believe thats the next phase. Why not? I love it. I love the pushes we see, whether its from Amazon or other colleagues, as well as from Samsung, where theyre incorporating with various other partners. Lets view it.
If youd explained 20 years back, when monochrome phones were still aroundwed just released our first racing game on monochrome devices, with ringtones and things like that. It had been 64K. Now you have Wreckfest. Were discussing a six gigabyte game on a mobile device, also it plays smoothly. Thats fantastic. Its just 20 years. Were discussing evolution there. If we look at where in fact the devices ‘re going, we are able to play on our TVs without the consoles. Id do not have considered that.
GamesBeat: Just how many people are you experiencing now?
Kassulke: We’ve a lot more than 100 within Handy Games. We’ve a studio near Cologne. They developed Fifth Grader. Im going there tonight for the release party. We also utilize a large amount of external developers, whether they result from Spain, Denmark, or Sweden. We dont care. It just must fit. In addition they need to just like the premium model. If its free-to-play, thats a very important thing. Within the Embracer Group we’ve Easybrain or CrazyLabs. We are able to always point you in the proper direction if youre a developer.
If youre an indie game and you also desire to release it in a box, arrived at us. Thats a good story for developers, because releasing something at retail isnt so common anymore. Now, because of another Embracer buyout with the people from Limited Run, its no issue. The core gamers that still want to possess a box, I believe lots of guys remain really missing out there. If someone really wants to buy it online, they are able to still take action. Offer your game to as many folks as possible. In the event that you look at a casino game like Endling, I believe we’ve 24 different languages supported, something similar to that. You should offer everything you have to as many folks as possible on the market.
GamesBeat: Whats probably the most successful Handy Games release up to now?
Kassulke: It certainly depends. Townsmen continues to be among our biggest IPs. I believe its a lot more than 20 yrs . old now. Its still a building strategy game like Settlers via PC, via mobile. Then our latest successes are, for instance, things such as Endling, like Chicken Police. Theres some quite dark humor there. Perhaps a tiny bit too dark for a few Americans. But thats just what consumers want. They need something new. They would like to go back and become reminded of the days of the past enabling you to still make some jokes.
With Endling, its a gamewe never saw so many YouTubers and influencers really crying in a casino game. You obtain those emotions back. Maybe it had been bad timing, because Stray premiered on a single day, and Stray sucked up everything. But thats fine. This game is really a long-term seller. Its successful. Its 96 percent on Steam. Same with Chicken Police at 93 percent. I cant complain. WHEN I mentioned, an indie game differs from the double-A or perhaps a triple-A game. Its always concerning the long haul. I tell our developers that its not just a sprint. Its always a marathon. You have to focus on the long term with each and every game, and in addition release on each and every platform on the market. Thats the main element.
I see no problems with that. EASILY desire to make fast money I could rip off someone for NFT money somewhere. Build-up any game and put NFTs inside it. Per year or two ago that has been the big topic. Everyone asked whenever we were doing something with NFTs and blockchain. Not right now. Give us that. Maybe we see a thing that is practical. We see plenty of developers and their pitches. Nobody would like to develop that.
GamesBeat: Do you consider thats dying out right now?
Kassulke: Some individuals are employing their brains now. Lets put it this way. Theyre considering what they are able to develop. Wheres the profit for the finish consumer? Its not about coloring my gun. Thats been done in Counter-Strike without NFTs. You can purchase whatever and sell it. Thats the next phase. Show the buyer the worthiness of NFTs. Thats the more realistic way, going step-by-step. Not just attempting to hunt for a lot of money now. EASILY lose my password everything is fully gone. I would have invested lots of money.
Ive invested considerable time in games. Just how many hours do I’ve in Counter-Strike? Holy shit. I dont desire to tell my partner. But its about this. There are various games on the market where you invest lots of time and passion, whether its Counter-Strike, if its Call of Duty, if its PUBG, whatever. Yes, you invest time. However when youre investing moneya large amount of gamers invested lots of money in Wow aswell.
GamesBeat: Just how many hours is it possible to put into something similar to Wreckfest?
Kassulke: Unlimited. The mobile game is strictly exactly the same version that you could play on the PlayStation. It is possible to tune in precisely what you have. You have all of the courses within. The one thing we didnt implement was from the Kickstarter backers back the day, the precise cars they promised those individuals, because we couldnt control that. But were going the premium way again. Consumers can purchase the game, nearly the same as on Switch and things like that. You’ve got a premium title available, not just a free-to-play game thats filled with advertising. Even yet in a racing game you can normally expect that.
Im interested in how that performs versus the rest of the games on the market. Individuals are currently crying a whole lot about premium. Theyre a little sick and tired of advertising in games. Weve seen changes in the advertising space from iOS. Consumers have to understand that in the event that you dont like advertisements, in the event that you dont like in-app purchases or microtransactions, then maybe investing in a game for a one-time fee is another option. Thats what weve been targeting for a long time. Its an educational thing. Im quite happy that THQ Nordic why don’t we take action, because thats our mission. Its about returning to premium games on mobile. Its quite unique.
GamesBeat: Whats the German industry like at this time?
Kassulke: We see lots of new fundings. The German industry gets plenty of support now from the German government. We didnt receive anything for a while. We now have it. And today we have to prove from the side that the amount of money they invested into these businesses has been translated into good games, and good games are translating into good sales. Thats the next phase.
Again, its not just a sprint. If the politicians desire to see releases inside a year, thats extremely hard. Thats not the way the games industry works. The politicians should try to learn from the games industry. Thats why events such as this are a positive thing. It requires time. We note that even individuals responsible for the funding are speaking with us as publishers. Development is one topic. Choosing the best publisher that may then have a product they cross-financed and distribute the title, thats the next phase.
Its an easy task to to push out a game on Steam, on iOS or Android. Rendering it a success, as well as just getting any profit from it, its not so easy anymore. A decade ago it might be easier. Nowadays you have to release on every platform. You should release bigger titles as a boxed product, perhaps. Theres an enormous collector market on the market that buys each and every Switch release. We saw that today. I saw a post in which a guy said his 1400th release he collected was ARE YOU CURRENTLY Smarter When compared to a Fifth Grader. Holy shit! Where can you put 1400 of these boxes? If theyre crying for games, crying out they need it something, you will want to give it in their mind?
The German market had not been that big in the PC and console business for a while. The Swedish guys were the big guys. There is too little publishers. Nowadays theres no insufficient publishers anymore. We have to increase developers within Germany 20 guys, 40 guys. Those will be the ones developing another double-A games, the triple-I games once we call them, the very best indie games. You dont do this with two or four guys anymore. Yes, Coffee Stain did among those games recently, where they achieved it with 4 or 5 guys, but thats really rare.
If youre hunting, as a publisher, for another indie game, you would like to note that its a well balanced team of guys which are already working together, where one can invest money into them and build-up something together. It is possible to go directly to the next thing and say, We have to build-up the graphics. We are in need of better UI, better sound. Thats where we are able to help as a publisher, because we’ve everything in-house. QA is missing at plenty of smaller studios. Theyre totally living to make the title. Marketing isnt there. You cant do this as a little developer. Thats not what youre a specialist in. Theyre limited within their resources. Thats why the publisher will there be. Thats what they understand. Thats also why the government-funded institutions are educating the developers.
I wouldnt discuss an indie apocalypse, just like a large amount of guys have discussed within the last couple of years. But when you have an excellent game, when you have high ratings, its still no automatic success. You have to put it before everyones eyes nowadays. The press has changed a whole lot, too, especially over COVID within Europe. Whos printing anything anymore? Streamers arrived, new streamers. When I observe how many streamers and influencers we speak to nowadaysits not just a matter of just hitting one guy and its own successful. Now you will need to contact everybody.
You should plan your release. Releasing a casino game simultaneously on all platforms, thats what the initial parties want. Otherwise they state, Well, I dont wish to be the last someone to obtain the release. Thats challenging. Financing is really a big issue there. Once you have a look at what an opening day costs, for indie developers, thats impossible. You will need muscles. In the event that you dont have the muscles, you must have lots of brains. Otherwise, your game is released, but its one out of, whatever, 20 each day?
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