By James Brightman
At the recent Game Developers Conference, IndustryGamers had the pleasure of chatting with Phil Harrison, the former Sony Worldwide Studios boss and Atari executive who went on to co-found London Venture Partners (which is supporting iPhone, location-based gaming developer Grey Area). We asked Harrison point blank if traditional publishers will now have to completely reinvent themselves for the mobile and social world or go extinct.
Here’s his candid answer.
“It’s probably the most important question the industry is wrestling with right now. If this conference was called ‘Game Publishers Conference,’ I think everyone would be in the bar crying into their beer and being just miserable.
“But because it’s Game Developers Conference, I see a strong sense of innovation and passion for the change, and excitement for all of these new business models. The developers almost felt their wings were being clipped in the past, and now they’ve been empowered to do all these things that they’ve been dreaming about for years – to take control and with control comes responsibility. They have to figure out a whole number of new skills that previously a publisher provided for them.
“Without naming names, if I was a chief executive at one of the major traditional publishers, I’d be really challenging my leadership team as to how to change the company. But I don’t know of a company that has successfully reinvented itself from being packaged goods, product centric to being network service centric. I don’t know of an example, and if you can find one, I’d love to know about it. I don’t know of a company that’s successfully changed its culture – in any industry, not just in the computer gaming business.
“The chances are that the leaders of social and mobile are not going to be from traditional packaged goods game companies.”
We’ll have more from our interview with Harrison in the near future.