On January 30, the Bigben Group introduced its plan to place all its gaming actions beneath the Nacon banner and take the subsidiary public. Nacon was an already established model in gaming, recognized for its peripherals such because the Revolution line of controllers.

Bigben’s technique behind this transfer is to make it a frontrunner within the double-A gaming. These are usually video games with smaller budgets which are focusing on particular market niches. They additionally embody video games that main publishers of triple-A video games similar to Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft don’t produce as a result of they don’t have that mass-market attain.

I spoke with Benoit Clerc, who’s now Nacon’s head of publishing after working in an identical function on the Bigben Interactive facet since 2012. He’s been with Bigben for almost 17 years, so he’s witnessed the corporate’s progress, from publishing video games similar to Space Invaders: Invasion Day in 2003 to the acquisition of studios similar to Eko, Kylotonn, and Spiders over the previous couple of years.

In our interview, we mentioned why Bigben is doing this now, why it’s bringing Nacon public, some concepts it has for the funds raised by means of an IPO, the peripheral recreation, and what the double-A phase is all about.

This is an edited transcript of our interview.

Nacon’s Benoit Clerc: Becoming a double-A gaming force

GamesBeat: Why go public now with Bigben/Nacon? Why is the timing good for this?

Benoit Clerc: This is a conjunction of a number of parameters. First, an inner one: We as an organization, as a publishing enterprise unit, and an adjunct enterprise unit — I’ll elaborate on that half in a while — however Nacon is gathering these two actions for causes that I’ll clarify. We have the workforce, the information, the place, the studios now, every part we want, the muscle tissue, if I’ll say so, and the mind additionally, to gasoline an ambition that we’ve voiced publicly, which is to change into one of many main midsize publishers in our business within the three-to-five years to come back.

And the opposite purpose, possibly, to say a very powerful ones, is exterior. We assume that with the subsequent technology of consoles that’s prepared to come back out, with the cloud, which can also be the subsequent large step technologically and industrially and business-wise for our business, and the digitalization, which I’m not instructing you something — that we’re main as an business now, this was the appropriate time for us additionally to go greater, with the intention to occupy a place at this important second in our market historical past.

GamesBeat: The acquisitions you made in 2018 and 2019, was that the ramp resulting in this?

Clerc: We purchased 5 corporations. But they signify eight studios. One of the businesses, RaceWard in Italy, now we have a stake within the firm that we might increase within the months and years to come back to have a majority. All of the studios have an identification and a few specificities in terms of the video games that they’re in a position and prepared to develop. Those are eight groups with some ardour and a few experience in some fields.

I’ll provide the firm names and studios they’ve. The first firm is KT Racing, Kylotonn. They’re based mostly in Paris and Lyon. They’re specialised in racing. They’re doing off-road racing with WRC (World Championship Rally), and so they’re doing two-wheel racing with Isle of Man TT. They’re presently engaged on our greatest venture by far, which is the subsequent Test Drive Unlimited recreation.

Nacon’s Benoit Clerc: Becoming a double-A gaming force

Above: Big Bad Wolf is engaged on a Vampire: The Masquerade narrative RPG.

Image Credit: Big Bad Wolf

Then now we have Cyanide. This is three studios: one in Paris, one in Bordeaux, Big Bad Wolf, which is specializing in role-playing narrative titles. They did The Council, and so they’re engaged on Vampire the Masquerade, a brand new recreation that may unfold one other chapter in that world to create this very particular new style that they name the narrative RPG. And Rock Factory in Montreal, so three studios. They’re doing motion and turn-based titles. Then now we have Spiders in Paris. Then now we have Eko in Paris. Spiders, RPG and motion video games, Eko, sports activities video games and top-down action-RPG video games. They developed Warhammer Chaosbane for us, a Diablo-like, and so they additionally did How to Survive for an additional writer.

The final studio I discussed is RaceWard, in Milan. RaceWard isn’t owned by us. We have a minority stake, which is roughly 40 % or one thing. We have 4 corporations that 100 % belong to BigBen, improvement corporations, and so they signify seven studios, after which one studio, RaceWard, which now we have robust hyperlinks there. They’re working completely for us.

GamesBeat: All these corporations and studios, they’ll be shifting beneath the Nacon model, and that’s the half that’s going to be now the subsequent transfer, making all that public?

Clerc: Absolutely. Bigben as an organization is public already. We’re listed on the inventory trade in Paris. That was in 1999, fairly a very long time in the past. It was mandatory, with the intention to obtain the ambition that I discussed earlier, to regroup the power of the pure gaming individuals contained in the group in a single single physique. This is the case with Nacon, which might be a 100 % subsidiary of Bigben. We’ll keep inside the Bigben group, however a part of the shares of Bigben in Nacon will go public on the inventory trade within the weeks to come back, to ensure that us to boost cash to speed up towards our ambitions.

GamesBeat: When you’re speaking to the sport business, do individuals acknowledge the identify Nacon greater than the identify Bigben?

Clerc: For me, it could be tough to say, working for Bigben for 17 years. I’m nonetheless choosing up the telephone and answering as Bigben Benoit. But this identify was conveying an identification that the was the unique enterprise of the group, based in 1981 by its present CEO, once we had been promoting watches and clocks. The identify Bigben wasn’t conveying one thing associated to gaming. Nacon, which we created 5 – 6 years in the past to create a premium model of equipment, amongst which now the flagship is the Revolution controller for PS4 — we’re among the many few third-party equipment producers with an official seal of approval from Sony, an official license.

The Revolution controller is likely one of the greatest, if not the most effective, professional esports premium names on this planet. It’s not me saying that. It’s the press saying that. This controller is among the many greatest on this planet. We wished to leverage the identification of this model to say, now, as a brand new gaming specialist firm, Nacon will place itself as an professional, specialist, premium, excessive degree, top quality group. That’s what we need to do. What has been conveyed by the Nacon Revolution controller, to make a tool that’s excessive finish, absolutely devoted to specialist professional players, that’s what we need to do for different equipment sooner or later, and for our video games. We need to tackle the specialists. We need to discuss to followers of racing, followers of RPGs, and so forth.

GB: You’re speaking about hitting the passionate fan, the engaged fan. That’s the function of the double-A studio today, isn’t it? Going after individuals who actually like a sure kind of recreation, and never focusing on the broader market.

Clerc: You’re fully proper. This is identical evaluation we’ve made on our personal. We assume that there are numerous locations available in the market, many niches, though I don’t very very like that phrase, as a result of it conveys the concept you’re speaking to a tiny portion: a small chunk of players, which isn’t all the time the case. Sometimes you’re speaking to lots of people. But there are certainly a number of segments of players which are very captivated with one or two genres or recreation mechanics or simulations or themes or no matter in our business. They have a degree of expectation that’s extraordinarily excessive, as any passionate specialist of something. Sometimes they signify not sufficient individuals with the intention to have an interest for the large ones, for the majors of our business.

Nacon’s Benoit Clerc: Becoming a double-A gaming force

Above: WRC eight is Kylotonn’s most up-to-date off-road racing recreation based mostly on the World Rally Championship collection.

We assume that as an organization, now we have now the workforce, the expertise, the experience, together with our studios, our builders, to please precisely these individuals, department to department. Kylotonn, off-road racing — there are on this planet a number of million players who’ve a degree of talent in terms of online game racing that’s so excessive, with a information of the racing style that’s so good, to be entertained and challenged correctly they want a simulation that may be a hardcore simulation. Off-road racing is extraordinarily tough to deal with. You have to race the automotive at evening, within the rain, within the mud. The subsequent flip is on gravel. You don’t know the circuits, as a result of there is no such thing as a circuit. You have to hear rigorously to your co-driver. This is hardcore. It takes time to provide a simulation that’s on the correct degree to fulfill these individuals. That’s what we did with Kylotonn, KT Racing.

We additionally need to please the RPG specialists. With Big Bad Wolf and Cyanide and Spiders, now we have a number of groups of passionate builders which are ultra-fans of RPGs. They’ve produced devoted instruments. They know easy methods to inform tales, easy methods to make RPG mechanics which are totally different from what the large ones are doing. They’re speaking to hardcore specialists of motion and RPG video games. We have sport builders making rugby, biking, handball video games. Once once more for hardcore specialists of these particular genres. We know them very properly. We need these studios with specialised builders to do the identical style time and again, the style that they like, with the intention to fulfill increasingly more, higher and higher, every time the viewers that they’re speaking to.

GamesBeat: Is there any temptation right here to get into triple-A video games, or is Nacon actually going to zero in on the double-An area?

Clerc: I’m not comfy with this segmentation, triple-A and double-A. As knowledgeable I’ve no drawback. I do know what it means. I can discuss it. But more often than not, triple-A is a three-star Michelin restaurant and double-A is a two-star Michelin restaurant. Three stars is all the time higher than two stars, you already know what I imply? Which isn’t actually the that means of triple-A and double-A. There are many corporations, many publishers, many studios, that say, I’m doing triple-A, however that’s not since you’re saying you’re spending greater than X tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} on a recreation with the intention to discuss to greater than X thousands and thousands of individuals on this planet which are taking part in triple-A. That’s what it’s to do triple-A. To do triple-A is to make a blockbuster if you’re in Hollywood. I’m Ubisoft, I’m Warner, I’m EA, I’m Activision, after which I’m publishing triple-A video games, investing greater than $40 million, $50 million, $60 million in a manufacturing, and even way more than that. I’m speaking to a mass viewers. Of course these video games are wonderful more often than not, however they’re meant to please a large viewers, a really giant viewers.

Making double-A isn’t making a recreation that’s of much less high quality than triple-A. It’s making a recreation that’s speaking to a lesser variety of individuals. That’s what we’re doing. There are many style audiences that the large names in our business should not fascinated about anymore, as a result of they’re not quite a few sufficient. EA 10 years in the past was publishing rugby video games. This is now not the viewers that they’re speaking to sooner or later. I really like rugby and rugby followers. I’m typically seeing on social networks, individuals saying, yeah, I’d like EA to publish a brand new rugby recreation, however they received’t. This is now not their place available in the market. But corporations like BigBen, with quite a few iterations — with Rugby 20, the sport that we simply launched, we’re about to attain what we did with WRC, which is to make an actual good rugby simulation that may discuss particularly to rugby followers. This is what we need to do in every phase: to determine a spot available in the market the place there are sufficient individuals, passionate individuals, through which now we have the experience, now we have the builders who share that very same ardour, and they’ll specialize themselves to be specialists in these genres for years to come back.

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