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Michael Douse, the Creative Producer for Focus Home Interactive, sat down with us at E3 to talk about what exactly makes their company stand out from other game publishers and how he got his start in the industry.
Focus Interactive is a publisher based in Paris, France. We develop really cool titles for a core audience that has been around for a long time, but we recently went public so we’re raising the budget for all of our games. We primarily work with French developers, but we’ve been working with people outside of France like Deck 13 from Germany.
Publishing Games in Europe
It’s like publishing games in the U.S. to be honest. There are different laws of course. There are laws regarding how you can fire people. It’s quite common after you’ve worked on a game, to let off some members of the team that aren’t as important. However, in Europe you’re really protected. That means that the output is really high, for a lot of studios as soon as they finish one game they get on another one.
But again, it’s the same as publishing in the U.S. It’s the same ethos, the same excitement, and (relatively speaking) the same budgets. It’s not too different, I believe.
What Makes Focus Home Interactive Unique
We’re one of the only publishers that are still publishing mid-level core games. There really isn’t anyone else, the closest one I can think of is Paradox Interactive but they’re primarily on the PC and they make really in-depth strategy games.
We do a lot of things, primarily RPGs at the moment, but we do strategy games and indie games as well. Really, no one is doing what we are doing. We do a lot of games like Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, Space Hulk: Deathwing, Blood Bowl 2, and Mordheim: City of the Damned. That’s really the main thing that I think differentiates us.
Start in the Industry
I was a journalist myself. It was a natural progression, you really have to know the industry to be in the industry. Journalists know about 50% of the industry, the industry that they’re allowed to see. That’s a good start. When you’re good at what you do, you get noticed at shows like this (E3) that eventually if you talk to the right people, they’ll teach you that other 50% you didn’t know about.
It’s a really complex and interesting industry. You have to have been a gamer for a very long time to understand where it’s come from and where it’s going. There’s a lot of people that do that, but it’s how you use all of your gaming experiences to understand the industry. It’s not just a hobby, but it’s a lifestyle. If you’ve been doing it for a very long time, that’s all the experience that could be used in the publishing world. That’s how I got there, I think that’s how a lot of people got there.
Game Most Excited For
Personally, what I’m most hyped for is Battlefleet Gothic. We played the super early prototype, we had the QA testers play the early prototype, and usually at this state the point is to see what works and what doesn’t work mechanically. It’s not about if it’s fun or not fun.
But the QA guys were all having fun when only about 10-20% of the game was in. Only like 5 skills for all of the fleet was in the game, and it was a really fun experience so I’m really confident in the game. Especially with the campaign they’ve got, it’s really cool.
People who are fans of Dawn of War and games like that, from other devs I think are really going to enjoy this one. In terms of polish, it’s definitely up there with those games.
Not everyone in the world knows who Focus Home Interactive is, but if you’re a really core gamer, a true gamer who likes premium games that are original and have unique ideas, definitely check us out. There’s a lot of games in our catalogue. We fight very hard to keep ideas core and for them not to be ruined by other things like making them free-to-play, or changing them to dumb them down (making them easier and more accessible). We aren’t into that stuff. We just want a really good core game for the core user, so if that’s you check us out.
We want to keep true to the nature of what gaming really is and we don’t want that to be ruined. We’re not a company of men in suits. It’s about really good games. And if the game is good you can sell it, you don’t have to worry about anything else. No one is doing that anymore. Whatever we’re doing is working, and it can work.