Aspyr Media was founded in 1996 with the basic premise of bringing great gaming to the Mac. At first it was the sales and distribution of other people’s Mac games but then the idea to port great PC games to the Mac came abou,t and the public got to play Tomb Raider II on the Mac. The release of Tomb Raider II was the foundation of what has been Aspyr’s business since – bringing great PC brands to the Mac natively.
Below is the latest installment in our Aspyr Interviews segment, featuring our own Ted Staloch, Executive Vice President. His role oversees all Sales, Marketing and Content Acquisition - so finding and licensing Mac games, selling the Mac games and marketing the Mac games. We get lots of questions about upcoming content, what we think of various industry topics, how we feel about the content we sell, so we thought we’d shoot some questions up the chain and share them with you guys.
What games do you love these days.
I’m playing a ton of iPhone games right now, with Chillingo’s Cut the Rope leading my portable distraction time. Civilization V is simply awesome on the Mac! Anything Mario or Lego on the Wii is on my weekend list with my 2 boys. Like millions of other people, I play COD:Black Ops. I also really enjoy my sons baseball and Flag football games on weekends.
A guy walks into your office with a MacBook under his arm, sits down, and tells you to explain Aspyr to him in six words. What do you say?
Biggest Brands, Highest Quality, Dedicated People!!!!
Digital distribution: Blessing? Curse? A bit of both, maybe?
Blessing without a doubt, but you have to reset your company around embracing it. Meaning, Aspyr has had a 3 year transition period from 100% boxed game sales to today about 75% boxed. By the end of 2011, Aspyr will be closer to 25% boxed and 75% digital. But, for the first time ever almost 4 million Mac computers are being sold every quarter and soon everyone will be able to download the game through one of their favorite sites. (Mac App, GameAgent, Steam, etc)
I still buy some boxed games and think there is great opportunity for a retailer like Target or Best Buy to create a Mac “Top 10” game section and be a category leader. As Apple continues to shrink game shelf space and move online, this is the time for a more traditional retailer to step up and create a Mac destination with iPhones, iPads, Mac games, etc.
So for us, we are thrilled that the Apple platform is growing, the distribution is growing and our potential to reach 100% of our audience is a reality.
Some people think that video gaming isolates family members from each other while some think it brings them together. What’s your take?
I don’t think games should do either with families. If you are relying on games to bring your family closer, it seems like you’ve already missed the boat. Some people tend to over think the role of what games, movies, music, the internet, etc, should do to families. My belief is you have a set amount of distraction time everyday and that if you try and tie it to education, family time or work, you just re-defined it as not being fun or a place to be distracted. It’s OK to play RollerCoaster Tycoon, Call of Duty, Lego Star Wars, etc, for 20minutes on a Sat morning.
Now a different conversation can be had about how to incorporate gaming design and play into today’s workplace and education, but that wasn’t the question
Who are some of the people at Aspyr that you’d want to tell the OS X gaming world about?
We are a small and hardworking team, so this is a tough question. Let me start with 2 people. Lori Durham is our VP of Operations and she can manage anything. Seriously, she can Produce a work-for-hire development project, while certifying a XBOX 360 game, while managing a couple Mac games being launched world-wide, while helping the company look at new Health Insurance Policies, while interviewing new staff for next years projects, while, while, while….the best juggler we have at Aspyr.
Next is Andy Brazell, our fearless Director of Services at Aspyr, including our QA. Everything at Aspyr starts and ends in our QA depart. Andy has assembled a team that is best in class on Mac gaming (as well as other platforms) and absolutely will not allow us to cut corners. Several times throughout the years sales guys or business development guys like me have requested to push something to a patch or update after we release and Andy will simply just say “NO…our customers deserve better”. When I defined Aspyr in six words above as “highest quality”, it’s due to people like Andy at our company.
One more shout out is to Ken Cobb, who is one or our Senior Engineers. I appreciate brilliant engineers as much as anyone and Ken is certainly one of our Rock Stars here. But, what really separates him into the Rock Star category is his lack of ego. Different than confidence. He has a calm and reliable confidence on every project and everyday of the week. But that fact that he does such amazing work and remains so level headed is somewhat unique in game development. He really sets the stage for all of us to love and appreciate what we do for a living, while remaining humble. Dedicated people (above), certainly defines Ken Cobb.
Aspyr has brought out tons and tons of games, but also some of the biggest and most popular games ever made (like The Sims and Civilization). Where do you go from here? And don’t just give us the stock “bigger and brighter” answer on this one!
Clearly we want more of the same, which is big-big brands with gameplay beyond reason. But with the adoption of Apps vs Games, size is less of a driver and game companies can have tremendous success with bite size game-play. Aspyr will introduce more of this type of gameplay in the future, while supporting the biggest and the best. Angry Birds is today’s example, but within the next 18 months, there will be an App that sells 25 million downloads, maybe even 100 million downloads. These huge download events may or may not be with established brands current in the games industry. So, that size opportunity, on an OS or iOS that Aspyr holds expertise, is an area that we are very excited about and that we are perfectly positioned for future success.
To be specific, are you doing Black Ops for the Mac?
We would love to and are working on making that answer “yes”, but are open to suggestions on how to get full attention and sign off from a publisher experiencing the largest product launch of all time!