Bethesda boss happy to be the “Pixar of video games”

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 15 August 2013 02:25 GMT

Bethesda-published games may be very different in terms of genre and style, but PR and marketing vice president Pete Hines feels they’ve all got one important thing in common that clearly shows their origins.

Speaking to Polygon, Hines reiterated earlier messaging that the publisher is in no hurry to release squillions of games each year. He noted that although Bethesda is best known – as a developer – for first-person RPGs, its publishing catalogue is quite diverse.

“We don’t want to be defined by a genre. The Elder Scrolls is the crown jewel and probably always will be, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to evolve and grow in other areas with games that share common sensibilities. We’re very proud to be a company that does single-player when a lot of other folks won’t,” he said.

“We just want to be known for continuing to innovate, for focusing on a few key titles that are done really well, at a really high level from quality, and then go and do another one.”

The company aims for every title to have something in common, though – a common quality level or “premium feel” that marks it as “a Bethesda game”. Hines compared this to Pixar movies, which are very different but easily identified.

“Wanting to be the Pixar of video games is not a bad thing,” he said.

“Like, ‘Well, you made [Finding Nemo], and you made Wall-E, and those things are nothing alike.’ But at the same time, they’re still forms of entertainment that share some commonalities in terms of level of execution, story, characters and the kinds of things they do, like, ‘Yes, I love both of those things even though they’re very different, and it doesn’t feel weird that a movie about a robot set on an abandoned Earth came from the same studio that made a movie about fish under the ocean.’

“It’s just how those things were executed and told that made them both Pixar things. You look at both of them and say, ‘That’s a Pixar movie.’ I would like for people, long term, to think of Bethesda like that. When you play a Bethesda game, there’s just something about it that makes you feel like that’s a Bethesda game.”

Bethesda’s other aim it commercial success. Critical success is not enough, Hines warned.

“I don’t want to be Realms of the Haunting, which is one of my favorite games of all time that nobody’s played. Such a great game, but not nearly enough people played it,” he said.

“I don’t want to do that. The reason that Dishonored was a success wasn’t because it was a great game, it was a success because it was a great game that a lot of people played.

“There’s a big difference there. If you make something awesome and nobody plays it, what were the last three years about? How do you face those guys at Arkane and say, ‘Sorry you just poured four years of your life into it and I couldn’t get anyone to buy it.’ That’s not a conversation I want to have.”

Bethesda’s upcoming slate includes Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Evil Within, both of which will appear on next-gen consoles early in their lifecycles. Hines sees this as an opportunity for Bethesda to make those titles stick in the mind for years to come.

“[Wolfenstein: The New Order] is still able to take advantage of that opportunity, and potentially dig in that foothold – same for Evil Within – with this new generation, and to be one of those year one launch titles that we all remember. We’d definitely like to establish Wolfenstein in this new iteration and The Evil Within as hallmark things,” he said.

The full articvle on Polygon, available through the link above, contains much lengthier discussion of how Hines sees Bethesda as a company, how it chooses its partners, the new free-to-play and MMO movements, and his plans for the future.

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