Interview with Matrix Games
2008.04.20. 00:00 | szerző: Lacko | Interjú
Matrix Games is mainly focusing on games for hardcore wargamers, and their portfolio is constantly growing with titles that may not offer the best visual experience, yet gives fantastic gameplay to gamers. Our questions were answered by a variety of members of the Matrix Games staff: Sean Drummy (PR and Marketing Director), Erik Rutins (Director of Product Development and Business Relations), and David Heath (Director of Operations, Business Development and Acquisitions).
PC Dome: How did the story of Matrix Games begin? Who started the company and what was the initial goal?
David Heath: We founded Matrix Games from our own funds because we as gamers felt that our market was not being as well-served as it could be by the publishers that were then in existence. Matrix Games has been in business for well over seven years now, and each year we grow as a company and as gamers. The most important philosophy of our company is we love what we make. We’re gamers first and then we take our love of games and put them into our products. The result, we believe, has been a tremendous success. Our company goal is to reignite a passion for strategy games and wargames. We feel that every day we are in business and are helping gamers revisit great strategy games of the past or getting new gamers into the fantastic genre of wargaming that we are accomplishing our goal.
PC Dome: Do you remember where did the name of the company come from?
David Heath: The word “Matrix” in Matrix Games actually comes from some of the concepts found in the movie of the same name. I liked the idea that there was computer code in everything around you in the “matrix.” If you look at the Matrix Games introduction video found at the beginning of every title release by Matrix, you will see that our company logo is surrounded by computer code. This somewhat copies the computer code idea from the movie.
PC Dome: How did you decide that you'll focus on the smaller audience of hardcore, demanding gamers who prefer strategy/tactical and similar titles?
David Heath: Matrix Games has always been committed to bringing back the glory of wargaming and hardcore strategy gaming. The fact that we have grown substantially for each year we’ve been around is proof that there is a large community of gamers who do enjoy the very specific focus we take on the titles we publish and we’re more than happy to bring them the types of games they want to play. Everyone who works for Matrix Games has a strong background in wargaming both in board games and on the PC. If you combine the years that just the top three members of the company (Erik Rutins, David Heath, and Marc Schwanebeck [Director of Art & Production, Webmaster]) have been playing wargames you would have over a century worth of experience!
When I made the decision to publish to a “hardcore” audience, it wasn’t a marketing decision that I carefully arrived at by trying to find the best way to make money. I just knew that I wanted to make and publish the types of hardcore strategy games that I love and I knew that my passion for what I do would make the rest happen. And I’m very happy to say years later that I was right.
PC Dome: How does it feel to be a smaller, independent publishing company, and what do you think of the battle of the big ones like EA, Ubisoft, etc., while they are also purchasing smaller companies? What do you think of the current gaming market, and of your position in it?
Sean Drummy: Our size relative to the industry giants doesn’t really affect us in any way. We’re concentrated on a very specific group of gamers within a gigantic mega group of people that play video games. We very rarely publish a product that comes even close to the target demographic of EA, Ubisoft, or the like. So while technically we’re in the same business with the publishing giants, in practice we operate in completely different circles. Obviously the market for hardcore strategy and war games is not nearly as large as the market that plays games like Guitar Hero. But that’s OK for us. We are very successful at marketing to the specific group of people we publish games for and that’s all we’re interested in doing.
PC Dome: Most of your developers are small teams of enthusiastic gamers, do you think they could manage to stay alive with their works?
Sean Drummy: Absolutely, I think that while the market for our type of strategy games may not be as large as the market for Halo 3, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t enough fans of our genre to sustain it. Our very success and existence proves that the wargaming and strategy genre is substantial in size and is growing every day. We work tirelessly to maximize the number of people who are introduced to and interested in wargaming and strategy gaming and our success in building a strong community of such gamers makes it easier for developers to find an audience. Although in some cases this is a “second job” for developers, in many cases this is their primary work and that percentage is increasing.
PC Dome: Who do you consider your actual competitors? (e.g. Battlefront.com, Strategy First?) What's your relation to them?
David Heath: We tend to spend all our time focusing on making our releases as good as possible rather than worrying about the competition. We think it’s healthy for wargamers and strategy gamers to have several publishers to go to, but we also feel that at this point our selection of war and hard core strategy games is the most comprehensive of any current publisher.
PC Dome: What are your plans for the near future?
Sean Drummy: Matrix is starting to get fired up for our summer traveling schedule. Every summer we travel to a variety of conventions and shows to spread the word about our products and to give gamers a chance to meet both Matrix staff and several developer teams in person.
As for the titles we have on the launch pad for the near future, I can’t say much about what exactly will be coming out this summer but rest assured that the main convention we attend, Origins in Columbus, Ohio, USA, will be anything but dull. In addition to the highly anticipated War in the Pacific – Admiral’s Edition, we have a few other special titles on the way out too… :-)
PC Dome: Could you tell us something about the new product classification system, with the new game editions? Why did you choose to start this?
Erik Rutins: I’m glad you asked that! Because we have been in business for several years and have gone through some changes in our production processes, the Matrix Games Store has a variety of physical game packages and the goal of this system is to make it easy for the customer to know what they are getting. With the roll-out of printed manuals in early 2007 for new releases and some old releases, customer feedback requested more information on which titles now have printed manuals and which do not. The new Edition Logos are an effort to make it easier for customers to inform themselves regarding what each game box contains.
The new system breaks the physical game packages into three distinct editions. Each game only has one edition. The editions are as follows: Digital Express Edition (a game which comes with a color electronic PDF manual only), Standard Edition (a game which comes with both a printed black and white manual and a color electronic PDF manual), Collector’s Edition (the same as a Standard Edition with the exception that the printed manual is in color rather than black and white). The Collector’s Edition will be the least common and will be rolled out later in the year for two new releases and perhaps one or two titles in the existing catalog. It is designed to give some of our higher priced titles a little something extra.
PC Dome: Matrix Games is the publisher for a Hungarian developer team, Hussar Games. What do you think of them, do you like their games?
David Heath: Well if we didn’t love Hussar’s work then we wouldn’t be publishing them! Matrix Games only publishes games they believe are true works of passion for gaming. Hussar’s titles are no exception to this rule. Since its release late last year, Napoleon in Italy has been well received by both critics and gamers, especially those who have an interest in Napoleonic history.
Erik Rutins: It’s been a real pleasure working with Bulcsu and his team to make Napoleon in Italy the best that it could be. We think they have a very historical and very fun system that has been flexible enough to model three separate conflicts to date.
PC Dome: Thanks for the replies.
Sean, Erik, and Dave: Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you! ■