GotGame scored an interview with Vincent Dondaine, COO and VP of Sales and Marketing for BulkyPix. We asked the hard questions and wouldn’t take no for answer! So here’s the interview ladies and gents.
1. Who founded BulkyPix?
We founded Bulkypix in 2008 with 9 former Vivendi Games Mobile employees. They are a really strong team each with at least a half decade of experience under their belts in the gaming industries across a range kind of platforms. Before creating Bulkypix we had already worked on more than 70 published game titles. For my part, I was the senior producer on Crash Bandicoot Nitro one of the first best sellers for the iOS. The only one who hadn’t been a part of Vivendi is my associate and President of Bulkypix, Olivier Pierre.
2. Why was BulkyPix started?
Initially it was because Vivendi Games Mobile was closing down and we had gathered so much experience in the mobile space that it was an obvious move for us to create a new company to continue creating great games for smartphones. It was a crazy adventure that we hadn’t done on our own before. Financing your own company is a huge and frightening experience, but it’s also so exciting! On the other hand we are a team intensely passionate about gaming.
Starting the company was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, after all we are still here after nearly 3 years and going stronger than ever.
3. When BulkyPix was founded in 2008, did anyone ever think the company would come this far?
The team has a lot of complementary skills, from my point of view that’s why we are still here and growing. Everybody knows what he or she has to do, and avoiding interfering in other’s domains of expertise. It’s also a matter of networking. It’s definitely easier when you have already worked with so many developers in the past. So frankly speaking, in 2008 I was not able to have predicted if we would still be alive one year later. Everything is a matter of equilibrium and harmony; having a well balanced team that in all areas are great in their roles. I mean if I had to do everything from finding money to managing everybody I am sure the company would already have died several times over. Instead the company has been around for 3 years of existance and with more than 60 games published. For myself it’s already an excellent achievment that I am truly proud of.
4. As with any new company, there are hardships and successes along the road. What is BulkyPix’s biggest triumph and what was the company’s worst hardship in starting out?
Our best success to date is My Brute based on the famous web license with millions of players from all around the world. After 2 years of existance on ios the game continues to grow. The worst… let’s say we tried to make a small and funny application named 9G : centrifuge where you can put your face on a 3D modeled pilot in a centrifuge and see what happens to your face when you are accelerated through several G-forces. It was en epic fail, every company faces times like that, but it’s a good thing to evolve and learn from them, and to not reproduce past mistakes.
5. Which game was the first big hit by BulkyPix? (Keep?)
It’s definitely My Brute, with right now more than 1 billion combats having occured in the arena. It’s a continuous sucess as the game is still growing after 2 and a half years. We are continuing to release regular new content to keep the game fresh and changing. Players all around the world continue to strive to have the first place dojo in the global ranking. This game has gone extremely viral. Just check the itunes reviews. Everybody tries to bring more and more friends into their own dojo.
6. What age group are the games BulkyPix sells marketed to?
Let’s say we are covering from 3 to 35 years, but we have made a conscious decision to not create any new kid’s games in the near future because it’s simply a very challenging space to be profitable in. It will definitely be a huge market in several years but right now it’s a very tight market.
7. This has been a busy year for BulkyPix, how many games have been launched under the BulkyPix name this year so far?
To date 23 in 2011 and a lot more great titles between now and the end of the year like Mamba Nation Battle, Globulos, Another World and RPM Gymcana racing.
8. Would you be able to elaborate on any new games coming out under the BulkyPix name later on this year?
I will tell you a little bit more about the next two coming games and they’re huge. The first one to come is Globulos Mania. This game is amazing. Globulos was already a big success on Nintendo DS and won tons of indie games awards. In Globulos you have 20 different game modes based on a very simple mecanic. You have to set up the direction and power of your globulos in a various sports modes like basketball, soccer, sumo, protect the king… You have unlimited hours of gameplay here but the best is that you need to play this game with your friends on 3G or wifi, local or online multiplayer. It’s intensely addictive. The game will be free with some initial game modes offered, fully fonctional with multiplayer and then if you like you can buy different expansion packs of game modes and the factory to create and customize your own Globulos. Globulos Mania will be available on September 15th.
The second one will come in on September 22nd is a real gaming legend : Another World : 20th Anniversary aka Out of this world (in the US). Another World was one of the the first games to have an expansive and strong storyline and has an awesome intro that every Amiga 500 player will remembering fondly for sure. DotEmu has done the development with Eric Chahi himself to have a unique gaming experience for iOS devices. This is not only a port, huge efforts were made on touch control to help create a logical and fun gameplay experience. Regarding the game’s difficulty, not to worry you will have a normal mode which is easier than the original but also a hard mode (like in the 90’s) and then a hardcore one for real chalenge seekers 😉 The sound design has also been completely reworked. Stay tuned on the appstore the game is coming on September 22nd for 4.99$.
9. Why did BulkyPix decide to produce games for the iOS?
Why iOS… because it’s a real revolution regarding what was the mobile in the past. Previoulsy you had phone carriers , tons of hardware to support from let’s nes capacity to Playstation with only 1mb !!! You also had to have a strong brand if you wanted to have a chance to enter on a phone carrier deck with a huge requirement to support at least 85 % of devices they covered. iOS just allowed to everybody with talent to exist. You have a great idea, a great team you can make a hit. Even if it’s more and more complicated because of the jungle of games you can still do it. It’s also because we worked on iOS just before Vivendi games mobile closed his doors. I worked on Crash bandicoot Nitro Kart as senior producer and this game had a huge success. Like many other we took the train of the gold rush.
10. Have you ever considered making games for the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, or Wiiware/DSiware?
Sure we have it in mind but we are moving step by step, we are first and foremost a digital content publisher. So as a first step we need to create strong new ip that we will be able to bring to those new (to us) platforms. That’s what we’ve done on Hysteria Project and Pix N love Rush on PSP minis. We haven’t managed the publishing directly thaere, and we have to learn and to first be excellent on smartphones so when we’re ready for the next step we’ll be able to make it with confidence. We are also facing real challenges on the consoles. The fact is that on some of the classical consoles you need to have produced and released a box game before being able to be offered from the digital stores. At the moment we have one dream, to see the Hysteria Project but with a X100 experience based on kinect, pretty funny isn’t it ?
11. Could you tell us about some of the new changes coming to BulkyPix?
First of all we want to continue to publish good games on smartphones but also to develop our own games with our internal teams.
We are actively moving towards multiplatform games adding PC, Mac, Connected TV, web and facebook to smartphones. It’s a very exciting (and challenging) time for us.
In short we want to be everywhere across all of the myriad digital platforms.
12. Where do developers get their inspiration for the games they develop?
There are plenty of sources for inspriration. Games on all platforms to be sure, we are continually playing on everything that comes to market. Our team is very diversified, from casual to really hardcore gamers, from social games to FPS and rpg. But it’s not only that, there’s movies, tv shows and literature as well that often moves developers to create something new.
13. Are you anxious about the alleged upcoming release of the iPhone 5?
It’s very exciting yes, and there is a lot of great new functionality to explore from a gameplay point of view. The most interesting aspect in my own opinion is the airplay capability for games. On paper it’s really going a long way along the lines of a wii-type user experience. If that’s the case so many new implementation styles can be imagined. Another very useful aspect will be iCloud. As an Apple gamer you have to change your device on a yearly basis (and you really have to do it to keep on top of the newest technology), it also means that sometime you can loose your data and savegames, it will never again be the case with iCloud.
14. What is the hardest part of making an iOS game?
I would have to say that it’s to find the right idea and to keep it intact from the beginning of the development to the end. Human nature is to keep overthinking your concept – keeping adding on layers of completixy that are often unnessicary and detract from the original vision of the game. In addition to that I will also say that the final tuning to make your game perfect and polished, and finally deciding when it’s done and its time release your game. Also, the game’s completion is now only the first step, because without strong marketing and PR all your past efforts are nothing because you need to make more noise than your competitor, just to give a chance to your game to be visible and not lost amongst the thousands of other titles out there.