At the beginning of June, we posted the announcement of new UK publisher ‘Ant Games‘ opening its doors. Headed by the former UK managing director of the incredibly successful publisher, Microprose, Ant Games had already made gamers excited about their upcoming projects with the reveal of MMO Fallen Earth and JW Stealey’s Warbirds: Dogfights. With a future intended to distribute through both digital and retail avenues, we spoke to Stewart Bell about what he hopes to achieve with the formation and where he thinks this path might lead…
Richard Birkett: First off, for the Midlife Gamer readership, could you let us know who you are and what you do?
Stewart Bell: I am CEO of the newly formed publisher ‘Ant Games’.
RB: Next, a bit of a formality here at Midlife Gamer- could you tell us your favourite beverage and biscuit?
SB: Well, as it’s only midday and I’m already on my 12th mug of tea, it has to be tea. Any biscuit is fine with me.
RB: You’ve recently founded Ant Games, focused on publishing games to a worldwide audience. How would you sum up what Ant Games is like as a publisher? Could you give us a mission statement, as it were?
SB: Ant Games is publishing games that I want to play, games that give hundreds of hours of entertainment. And most importantly, games we are proud of.
RB: The announcement of the studio opening its doors was greeted with your line-up of games also due out soon. How many developers are you currently in partnership with?
SB: We are currently working with around a dozen development studios.
RB: How do you feel your two launch titles are shaping up and could you give us a brief description of each? Fallen Earth: Blood Sports and Warbirds: Dogfights certainly look to be fairly ambitious…
SB: Fallen Earth is a stunning MMO, which I have enjoyed playing. It’s also an amazing feat of programming. The guys at Icarus have done an amazing job in creating an environment which is so immersive and believable.
Having worked with ‘Wild’ Bill Stealey many years ago when we set up Microprose Europe, I knew of Bill’s passion for flying and when first shown Warbirds I knew we just had to publish it in Europe. I get the greatest “kick” for flying in a squadron with guys from all around the world in the online multiplayer mode. Both Warbirds and Fallen Earth are games that you can get fully engrossed in and represent great value for money as typically gamers will play them for hundreds, if not thousands of hours.
RB: Was there a particular reason why you felt now was the best time to start something fresh?
SB: I have been involved in various aspects of video game publishing for well over twenty years. Over the last twelve months many groups of developers have been asking for my help in bringing their games to market. I was flattered to receive so many offers of help from people throughout the industry, so, after many months of planning and investment Ant Games was formed.
RB: What are the greatest hurdles that need to be overcome first and foremost when establishing a new publishing studio?
SB: If you have great games, people will buy them, that has always been the way. Historically, there was always a hurdle in getting the major retailers to stock games that were not based on a licensed property or film, but now with the advent of digital distribution it is easier to get games to the end user. The biggest hurdle has been to co-ordinate the efforts of hundreds of programmers and artists into a release schedule that was realistic. In the end we decided, if it’s not finished, we will not announce it.
RB: UK publishing houses are few and far between nowadays. How do you feel the UK games industry is coping with the state of the economy?
SB: We have some of the greatest talent in the world, bar none. Hopefully Ant Games will be able to showcase some of this and take their games to new markets across the world.
RB: Finally, what’s next for Ant Games? What’s in the pipeline that Midlife Gamers should be getting excited for?
SB: Games nowadays take a long time to produce. We have some pretty special games coming, but most will not be announced until the end of this year, so watch out for a few surprises!
Ant Games can be found online at www.ant-games.com