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Blackley: 'Playing It Conservatively Isn't The Way To Succeed In Hit-Driven Entertainment'

Matt Gardner
Innovative Leisure, Mobile games, New IP, Saints Row 3, Seamus Blackley, THQ

Blackley: 'Playing It Conservatively Isn't The Way To Succeed In Hit-Driven Entertainment'

THQ have been going through the mire a little bit in the past few months, but one person who still fervently believes in them is Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley, who's partnering with the ailing publisher to help release mobile games produced by his superteam of old-school Atari devs at Innovative Leisure.

Explaining the reasons for signing with THQ in the first place, Blackley says that it was the company's open approach to the digital non-traditional platforms that attracted him to the publisher to begin with.

"THQ didn't really have a digital strategy and I thought that was good," he explains, speaking with Eurogamer. "The one thing that's true about these new platforms is that if you think you know what you're talking about you're just completely wrong. Anybody who says 'this is how it's going to work' is completely wrong, because the target is moving so fast. And the target is defined by whatever is coolest to play.

"However you happen to pay for whatever is currently coolest to play is the darling business model of the moment, but trying to chase that from a business standpoint is really dumb. You chase it from a gameplay standpoint. And Danny [Bilson, THQ games boss] totally got that."

But with the financial trouble that the company has been in, not to mention reports of waning confidence in the men at the top, is there reason to be cautious and does Blackley think THQ will pull through? He rather puts the furore down to the nature of twenty-four hour media coverage, noting that this isn't the first time events like this have shaped up, and that the process is rather cyclical.

"The instantaneous 24/7 media we have now causes things that would just have been blips in the past to become firestorms," he states.

"I think that several publishers have been through this before. A couple of years ago EA was going to go out of business, and before that it was Vivendi in the toilet. It's all cyclical. This is particularly bad for THQ for reasons that I don't entirely understand but the idea that the management have of backing games is the right one."

It really is all about the games and Blackley goes on to elaborate, suggesting that companies have to be willing to take risks to find the really good games that can be turned into profitable franchises.

"Focussing on really good games is the only long-term strategy. It's only when you have a really good game that's doing really well that you employ more traditional business techniques to exploit that. Until you have that game, playing it conservatively isn't the way that you win in any hit-driven entertainment medium. Play conservatively and you slowly slide into the grave.

"It's a miserable situation to be in but the guys who come out of these things are the guys who just keep fighting through and that's what THQ are doing, and I love them for it."

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