FreeStyle is working on new IP, will play “big part” in Acti-Bliz Euro Guitar Hero strategy

By Patrick Garratt, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 11:48 GMT

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In the wake of selling to Activision, FreeStyleGames boss Chris Lee has told VG247 that the English developer is currently working on a brand new IP for the publisher, and that the studio is to play a major role in the expansion of Guitar Hero throughout Europe.

“A big part of Activision’s growth strategy for [Guitar Hero] in Europe is to work with more local developers and to create more localized song content that resonates with the European market,” he said.

“Our studio will play a big part in that strategy. It’s been great fun to be able to work on this content and we continue to grow the team that’s working on this. We’re also working on an original intellectual property, which we’re very excited about and itching to say more about this when the time comes.”

FSG has already completed much Guitar Hero III DLC work for Activision, and is now focused on Guitar Hero World Tour, said the exec.

The move into Activision appears to have been a painless one: Lee confirmed there had been no job losses as a result.

“Yes,” he said when asked is all staff would remain employed.

“All current management have signed long terms contracts with FreeStyleGames. All the teams and projects continue as normal. Nothing will change within the studio, other than an increased support network within Activision and a little more financial muscle to continue our recruitment drive and deliver world class games.”

Read our full interview with Chris after the break.

You must be thrilled to be partnering with such a major player. What did Activision specifically bring to the table that made a good fit for FSG?

We’re delighted that Activision respects what we’ve achieved at FreeStyleGames. They not only see a fit for our team, projects and culture within their studio organisation, but they also share our ambition for the future and are already showing huge support for the work we’re doing.

The main reason we see Activision as such a great fit is the people and culture throughout the company. Their success is based on an independent studio model where each studio is able to retain it’s culture, identity and ambition. We’ve seen this first hand with time spent at Neversoft, Bizarre Creations, Red Octane and others. Activision also brings a world class sales and marketing teams to our titles. We also have a great relationship with the senior team at Activision and couldn’t imagine working with a more talented, experienced and ambitious group of people.

Was selling a necessity? Would you have been able to carry on for the foreseeable future without this type of deal?

It certainly wasn’t a necessity. We’ve had approaches in the past, which simply didn’t fit with our ambition and the direction of the studio, so we moved on ourselves. The opportunity with Activision was such a perfect fit for our teams and projects, that we wanted to fully explore it, which obviously led to the decision. It’s the right fit for FreeStyleGames and gives us the support and expertise to expand our journey.

It’s been confirmed you’re going to be working on Guitar Hero content, but will you be involved in other projects as well? As a percentage, how much of your time will be spent on Guitar Hero?

We’re working on Guitar Hero DLC at the moment. We’ve done a large amount of DLC already on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock are hard at work on Guitar Hero World Tour. A big part of Activision’s growth strategy for the franchise in Europe is to work with more local developers and to create more localized song content that resonates with the European market.

Our studio will play a big part in that strategy. It’s been great fun to be able to work on this content and we continue to grow the team that’s working on this. We’re also working on an original intellectual property, which we’re very excited about and itching to say more about this when the time comes.

How hard is it to remain independent in the current climate? Assuming the answer is “very,” do you see conditions easing for developer siun the coming years, or getting generally more challenging?

I think it’s a great time to be independent. It’s also great being an internal studio. I’ve always felt that the commercial conditions of the industry can be overcome with a talented group of people who are passionate about what they do. This has been proven time and time again. There are a huge amount of excellent independent studios enjoying great periods of success and I can see that continuing for a long time to come. This partnership was simply the right move for FreeStyleGames, and with the backing of Activision, we can take our studio farther than we could have on our own.

Will all the current staff remain actively involved in the company following the deal?

Yes. All current management have signed long terms contracts with FreeStyleGames. All the teams and projects continue as normal. Nothing will change within the studio, other than an increased support network within Activision and a little more financial muscle to continue our recruitment drive and deliver world class games.

Finally, is this the future you envisaged for FSG? Was the plan always to sell to a larger firm?

The future we envisaged for FSG was to make critically and commercially successful games with a talented and ambitious group of people, who enjoyed the process. We didn’t have a grand plan that this would always be as an independent studio, or ultimately as part of a larger publishing organization. We believe the Activision partnership allows us focus on what we do best – making great games and that is a really exciting thing.

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