Mike DeLaet, co-founder and CEO at DOD Media Group. He has 17 years of experience in business development, publishing, marketing, games, digital, mobile, licensing, hardware, strategic partnerships and telecommunications.
1: Have you ever worked on a turd of a project and at what point did you realise it just wasn’t very good?
Absolutely. If you’ve worked in the games industry at all during your career, you are highly likely to have gone through this scenario.
Did you try and turn it around or just get it out of the door?
Unfortunately the main issue publishers face is the investment put into the project to date and something a majority of companies cannot afford to walk away from, in the rare case that everyone at the company is wrong and the title has legs. Therefore we are put in a scenario to where we have to do our best to improve the game and ultimately launch the game at some point in the future.
2: When starting out a project, do you plan to hit as many platforms as possible or how do you narrow it down?
Ultimately every team goes through a cost benefit analysis to where they look at how much time and money will it cost to bring a particular game to a platform and how much money do we forecast the game will make. On mobile, most developers focus on the App Store and Google Play, as they own a vast majority of the market. The same can be said about consoles to where PS4 and Xbox One own the market at the moment.
3: Where do you think cloud-based gaming is going?
This is something that has been around for 10+ years now and ultimately it has never taken off due to issues with lag, network connectivity, rendering horsepower of a remote server vs local device, etc… I don’t see this is a real viable long-term platform for gaming outside of enhancing multiplayer experiences by rendering AI and other elements in the cloud.
4: What was the worst review or gamer post you read about one of your projects?
I obviously don’t want to single out any one project here for obvious reasons, but through my career we’ve had some amazing games and some not so good games. Regardless of how much money these games ultimately made, almost all of them had decent reviews when they launched. There are always some naysayers who will tell you that your game is complete garbage, but for every one of those, there are generally 5-10 positive reviews as well.
How do you react to that?
It’s important to take everyone’s feedback to heart and ultimately try to improve the game so that it is a better user experience for all players. That is the nice thing about games as a service.
5: What has been the biggest difficulty you have faced during a project? Publisher demands, team meetings, an attempt at perfection, anything else?
This generally applies to most games in development from my experience. Most development teams tend to be overly optimistic about their dates to executives and take several months longer than those dates to actually launch the product. This then leads to folks in various publishing organizations scrambling to change marketing plans, store placement schedules, art assets, etc…and causes a lot of turmoil as you lead up to launching your product.
6: Micro-transactions or other ways of getting money, what’s been the biggest bust or success?
Microtransactions appear to be here to stay for quite some time. Some publishers have found a very good way at making this work in their games and making a lot of money in the process. The next up and coming method is subscriptions. These have been around for years, but only recently has this opened up to mobile games on the App Store and I’m sure developers will find new and exciting ways to leverage this.
7: What are your thoughts on game cheats? Worth bothering with PunkBuster or other systems to combat cheating?
Cheating is definitely rampant in the space at the moment. I do think finding ways via online games or other methods to keep cheaters at bay is very important to the overall ecosystem of the gaming environment. Nothing is more upsetting to a player who has played countless hours to achieve some goal; only to find a cheater who unlocked that same item by cheating. It literally destroys the entire user experience of the game if this isn’t actively addressed.
Thanks Mike, for a great Q&A and your insight into publishing in the industry!
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