Funcom är just nu ett av de mest aktuella spelbolagen i Norden. Bolaget har under det sista året genomgått en större transformation som man kallar Funcom 2.0 och i höstas valde fonden Robur Ny Teknik att teckna till en premie i en riktad emission. Funcoms storspel Conan Exiles står nu för dörren med release den 8:e maj. Överlevnadsspelet blev snabbt en snackis i branschen när det släpptes i Early Access och sålde 480 000 exemplar på 28 dagar. Vi har tagit en pratstund med mannen som styr den norska skutan, bolagets VD Rui Casais.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what your role is at Funcom?
– My name is Rui Casais and I’m the CEO of Funcom. I’ve started in the company as an AI programmer, went on to become Lead Programmer and then CTO, before my current position as CEO of the group.
Funcom has had a bit of a bumpy ride in the last couple of years. What are the biggest changes made over the years to steer the company onto the right course again?
– Funcom has in the past been a company focused on the production and publishing of one main game with some very small other side projects. This focus on one very big project meant that there was a long investment phase, followed by a prelaunch phase where the financial market created very high expectations for the product and a launch phase where the product, even if successful and profitable like Age of Conan, didn’t meet the inflated expectations of the financial market and so the share price crashed.
– The new strategy is one of diversified risk and multiple revenue streams. We have multiple internal projects in development with a shorter development time, we publish games developed by other developers and we receive IP royalties for games developed and published by third parties. For a presentation of the IP rights acquisition and revised strategy see http://cdn.funcom.com/investor/2017/18dec17/Marketpresentation.pdf or other presentations on our IR page https://investors.funcom.com/.
Going forward, where do you think you will be in three to five years?
– We’re currently in the middle of our turnaround and operationalizing the new strategy. We plan to have multiple game releases per year in addition to other smaller activities (such as DLCs, etc). In 3 to 5 years we aim to have consistent profitability throughout the year supported by multiple annual releases, a strong base of games we have developed or published with ongoing revenue and expansion opportunities, and additional games utilizing our IP rights.
Tell us a little bit more about what your main IP, Conan, means to Funcom and going forward, what are your plans for that IP?
– Conan the Barbarian is an IP that is dear to us, having made both Age of Conan and Conan Exiles. We plan to continue developing on these games but also make new games on this IP. After Conan Exiles, we will start a new project in Oslo based on Conan, but we’re not ready to talk about the details of this project yet. We also see great enthusiasm for Conan from other developers and aim to have Conan games made by other developers. We will also follow the development of the planned Amazon production closely and make sure to leverage any opportunities.
Speaking of Conan, what are your expectations for the recently co-founded company Heroic Signatures?
– Heroic Signatures is a joint venture with the owner of Conan the Barbarian and a lot of other IPs, so this company is not just about Conan but also about Solomon Kane, Kull of Atlantis, Mutant: Year Zero, Mutant Chronicles, and a lot of other characters and worlds. Through this company we will license the IPs to game developers and publishers to maximize the exposure and generate royalty income. Some games will be made by Funcom, some will be published by Funcom, and we aim to have many games made without other Funcom involvement than the licensing of the IPs through Heroic Signatures (for example mobile games as Funcom do not develop or publish mobile games)
You recently announced a new strategy, where a part consisted of publishing deals. What is your process for finding interesting projects? Are studios actively reaching out to you?
– We both reach out to potential development partners and get contacted by studios wanting to pitch their ideas to us. We will focus on projects that we feel we can bring value to and can maximize their potential, so PC/Console games, ideally utilizing one of our IPs, Unreal Engine, has an experienced team and some funding already. The partnership in our first publishing project is going very well. We aim to attract the best developers by showing we are a partner that understands the developer, is easy to cooperate with and can add real value to the success of the games.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, made a bang into the gaming scene the other month. Tell us about the project?
– This game is developed by a studio in Malmo, Sweden, by a team of passionate and experienced developers. It’s a “tactical adventure” and will appeal to “XCOM” style strategy gamers and RPG gamers and will be released for PC and Console this year. It’s what we consider a “Premium Indie” title, as it’s a small budget game with high quality. Funcom does the PR/Marketing/Community work as well as the digital distribution work. We also help with QA, Localization, Console porting and other development work where needed. It will launch in the second half of 2018.
Who are your biggest competitors in general and how are you trying to beat them?
– The gaming industry is a bit special in that the notion of direct competitors is less relevant for most game developers/publishers. Gamers tend to consume many games and try out the next one when they’re done with the current one. Even for multiplayer games, where retention rates are higher as the games never really finish, we see players trying the new games and often returning to their old favorites. I would say that in gaming we all compete for attention and for “screen time”, so all games compete with tv/film for someone’s attention and willingness to spend time/money on that piece of entertainment.
– Funcom’s unique strength lies in the combination of its RPG online expertise, strong marketing team, IP ownership, and outsanding team of developers who have worked together for a long time.
In your opinion, what are Funcoms´s biggest risks and possibilities?
– Risks: Our strategy is designed to reduce the impact of any individual project underperforming, but as with all gaming projects, there is a risk that a project will not succeed. This can happen if the team is unable to make the game fun and engaging, the game releases during a time of heavy game launches detracting attention, if the pricing or business model isn’t good, and other factors.
– Possibilities: Games are projects that, when successful, can generate extremely high return on investment. With the current strategy of multiple projects in development and external projects being published it means that we have more opportunities to get a project that is a breakthrough success and has a very high upside. All the projects we engage in are such that we firmly believe we can have a solid profit, but breakthrough success is impossible to predict in this industry, so having more projects ongoing really improves our odds to make it happen.
To summarize, why should our readers invest in Funcom?
– We’re in the middle of our turnaround, 2017 was the most profitable year in our 25 years of history. We have reduced risk by moving to multiple game releases, acquired IP rights, eliminated debt and raised capital. And we have a solid pipeline of releases ahead of us with Conan Exiles being released on May 8, in 12 languages, on 3 platforms, digitally and in retail stores and with partners in china, japan and rest of asia, and Mutant Year Zero later in the year. And it won’t stop here 😊
Vill ni följa allt som händer i Funcom så rekommenderar vi varmt att ni prenumererar på deras investarbrev som ni hittar här: https://investors.funcom.com/
För att fira releasen av Conan Exiles har Funcom varit generösa nog att dela ut 10 st steamnycklar av spelet till våra läsare. För att delta i utlottningen av Conan Exiles behöver ni bara uppfylla följande:
1. Retweeta inlägget på Twitter:
Vi har intervjuat Rui Caisas, VD för Funcom som är högaktuella med spelsläppet av @ConanExiles. För att fira releasen bjuder Funcom våra läsare på 10 ex av spelet! För delta i tävlingen:
— gamingaktier.com (@Gamingaktier) May 4, 2018
2: Följ Follow @gamingaktier
3. Följ: Follow @funcom
Vinnarna meddelas via Twitter tisdagen den 8:e Maj, samma dag som spelet har release. Vill ni läsa om Conan Exiles eller rent av köpa spelet kan ni göra det här: https://store.steampowered.com/app/440900/Conan_Exiles/
Skulle ni vilja läsa mer om Funcom så har vi också intervjuat Fredrik Malmberg som äger halva Heroic Signatures och sitter i Funcoms styrelse: https://gamingaktier.com/intervju-med-fredrik-malmberg-funcom/