Sidhe faces challenges in new strategy
The country's biggest computer games maker, Wellington's Sidhe Interactive, has changed from being a "games factory for hire" to one that is now farming out work to fellow developers around the world.
But managing director and owner Mario Wynands said Sidhe's year-old decision to turn its back on the business of making console computer games for overseas publishers and concentrate instead on self-publishing its own games online, had not been without its challenges.
Though it has hired four or five staff in the past two months, its workforce has slipped from a peak of 120 in its record 2009/10 financial year to 85. There have been changes in its makeup and redundancies.
"We have ramped down our 3-D modelling and animation staff and brought on board more marketing and customer support staff. We have more females than ever before, which is great. Programmers we never seem to be able to get enough of."
Sidhe began "steering the ship in another direction" in 2006 in response to changing consumer tastes and in 2009 launched its PikPok division, which makes games for iPhones and iPads.
While it is still doing console work, this is now on a "much diminished basis" and 90 per cent of Sidhe's business relies on digital distribution, Wynands said.
"We are actually in a place now where we are starting to fund and publish work from other developers as well. We are close to announcing our next game which is being developed by a small group in Britain and we have more content coming from developers in the United States.
"It is exciting and daunting at the same time. We are not going out of our way to promote the fact we are a publisher but every day we are being contacted by developers who see the strength of our PikPok brand and are approaching us about publishing opportunities."
A report published last week by Australia's Bond University said more than 40 per cent of Australian households owned a mobile that was used to play games, while just over 60 per cent had a games console and similar proportion had a PC that was used for play.
Sidhe is scheduled to release six games before year's end, Wynands said, almost all of them for mobiles and tablets.
The broader New Zealand industry was in good shape, he said. "The games industry is poised to really break out and carve a great name for itself. Hopefully people are starting to notice the rise in activity in this space and seeing the little success stories continue to crop up."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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