Dave Cox, former longterm Studio Head at Konami, has moved into the fish in a bottle studio with a big ambition. We get into Dave’s head and discover his plans to take on the world of core games.
Dave Cox: a man with a plan to take on the world of core games
Q: Dave, please introduce yourself in a sentence.
“I’m Dave Cox, I’ve spent over twenty five years working in the games industry, most recently for Konami Digital Entertainment leading their European game development studio.”
Q: What’s your role at fish in a bottle?
“I’m responsible for the work fish in a bottle does with core games publishers and developers. It’s all about adding value to existing AAA properties by extending them into new areas, such as companion apps – basically helping publishers and developers maximise the spread of their brands”
Q: For anyone not familiar with those terms, what are AAA core games?
“Core games are what people would think of as traditional games, mostly on game consoles like the Xbox and Playstation. The dividing line isn’t clear, but core games are the opposite of casual games like Candy Crush Saga. AAA just means the upper end of quality, scale and production budget – the blockbusters!”
Q: What attracted you to fish in a bottle?
“What I see in fish in a bottle is an ambitious studio doing impressive things at the periphery of the core games market. The lines that have divided gaming are really blurred now and players aren’t tied to just one device anymore. Also, the assumption that core gamers just want core game experiences is wrong. It’s not that exclusive, gamers want different kinds of experiences at different times. They can be casual gamers too, and they want to play at home, on the go, wherever they happen to be really. The team here sees that as the big opportunity to extend core game brands.”
Q: Where are those opportunities?
“Look at the recent success of Hitman Go and Fallout Shelter to understand how core games and apps are converging. This type of content is no longer an afterthought but a great way to extend your brand and create compelling content. I’m also interested in looking at bringing traditional toys and games to digital where I think you can reach audiences you could never reach with physical games alone. I’m impressed by the success of digital collectible trading card games like Hearthstone right now.”
Q: What can fish in a bottle bring to core games?
“There’s this incredible history and client list here; Disney, Activision and Codemasters right through to the BBC, Nickelodeon and Viacom. There are long term relationships here, built on trust and quality for well over a decade. The people here have unique insight into how so many different forms of entertainment work – not just games but TV and toys too. They understand how people interact. I don’t think there are many studios out there that can make that claim to such an extent.”
Q: What previous achievements have set you up for your new role?
“I was responsible for the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series of games which was an award winning and very successful reboot of the legendary Castlevania brand. Konami’s long running series had been going for well over thirty years but had seen a decline in recent times. My team took the original concept and idea and re-imagined it for today’s audience and it went on to become one of Konami’s biggest titles in recent years.”
Q: What’s your brief?
“I want to bring what’s unique about fish in a bottle’s offering into the core games market. For years the teams here have been quietly working with huge entertainment IP like Starwars and SpongeBob SquarePants to build and extend those properties using casual games and apps. With most AAA games those things are an afterthought. Publishers and developers can trust their brands with us and know we bring a huge amount of experience to their products.
Q: What will you be producing?
“Much of what we’re doing will be recognisable as games; for example a companion app that bridges a AAA game product so players can carry on the game experience away from their console. We’ve hardly scratched the surface of what’s possible with companion games where engagement and access to IP is concerned. With other projects we’re looking at pushing into things like interactive video and using social channels to build better connections between players. And as I mentioned before, I’m looking at bridging physical products and digital games because there’s still a lot of untapped potential there with things like board games and toys.”
Q: What’s exciting at fish in a bottle right now?
“It has to be the diversity of the work that’s going on here. At the moment I’m sat in our studio and around me are people working on what you would identify as games, things like a mobile game for Blaze and the Monster Machines toys. Then there’s a team working out how to make a primetime BBC One TV show playable – literally defining the future of television. Next to them people are working out how indoor positioning systems like iBeacon can turn museums into location based games. The game credentials here make fish in a bottle as good as the best independent games studios, but with this amazing breadth of understanding of interactivity across TV, toys and physical locations. The wealth of experience and the new digital world converge here and I’m very eager to explore that!”