RPGamer Feature - Publisher Pow-Wow - True Games
True Games
Peter Cesario
Director of New Business
Product Development
Publisher: True Games
Warrior Epic
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True Games

First off, could you detail the decision making process for selecting which games are released in North America. Who is involved and what steps does the process go through?
Peter Cesario: Most publishers, including True Games, employ what is called a "Green Light" process. The actual steps and gates and so on may vary from publisher to publisher, or even game to game in some cases. However, the process is usually consistent when it comes to the fact that just about every department within an organization is involved in some capacity. For instance, the Product Development and/or Business Development groups will normally be the first to evaluate and propose a particular title or concept, which leads to the Marketing group doing a competitive analysis, finance ensuring the numbers add up, and so on. If a title makes it through the process with all departments fully on board, then it's "greenlit" to start production.

To what extent is the game's developer involved in the publishing process? Could you share some examples of how they are involved?
Peter: The extent to which a developer is involved can actually vary quite a bit depending on who the publisher is and what the particulars of the contract are. But, in most cases the developers are heavily involved from the start of a project all the way through its launch and beyond. In fact, in my opinion, a rock solid relationship between the development team and the publisher is crucial to the success of a title, and goes well beyond them simply creating and delivering the game. For instance, a developer usually plays an integral part in the marketing and PR of a title by not only providing the best possible assets and support, but by also acting as key evangelists. There are numerous other ways developers contribute to the publishing process that I could go on about, but in short, they're absolutely vital.

What difficulties and/or barriers have you had to overcome in publishing games in North America? Could you share some examples of barriers that have been overcome and/or those that could not be? What barriers are different from platform to platform?
Peter: Being in the online micro-transaction space now for the last few years, the biggest difficulty for me has been fighting the perception in North America that no retail plus no required $15 subscription equals poor quality. Unfortunately up until the last two years or so it was hard to argue considering the vast majority of the titles in the space, while not necessarily poor quality, were imported from Asia and simply not created with Western tendencies and tastes in mind. That said, True Games was started because we saw an opportunity to really help try and shatter that perception by partnering with established and respected Western developers such as Petroglyph and Possibility Space. Gamers simply want to play good games, and if we can provide a highly compelling experience, the revenue model should make no difference when it comes to perceiving quality.

When ramping up for a game's release, how are the decisions made as to where to advertise, which game gets priority, how many copies to produce, and when to release the game?
Peter: These decisions are made after many days of market research. Staying current with popular sites, available games and their respective genres, and global differentiation is a full-time job in itself. Before we even start to make these decisions, there are obsessive amounts of hours that go into the process.

How are translation decisions handled, things like renaming a game or character? Any games you've had a really enjoyable time taking liberties with? Do you have any examples of games given a less-strict translation that influenced your own?
Peter: At True Games, we're exclusively investing in titles from the ground up, which means we have the luxury of helping write the original English text as opposed to taking a foreign script, translating it, and then doing a full edit pass. But having worked on some imported titles in the past, I can definitely say there are times when the translation process can be a lot of fun. For example, assuming it made sense within the context of the game, being able to name NPC's and other characters after family, friends, or co-workers was always a blast!

Any interesting or horrific stories that you could tell us about? You know, maybe that one office incident that everyone laughs about and shares with new hires?
Peter: LOL! Probably more than I should have! But, a couple that immediately come to mind involve a lead programmer quitting without notice in the middle of beta, and an 11th hour discovery that tens of thousands of lines of text would have to be re-edited due to a fatal flaw in the localization code! It's funny now to look back at all the mad scrambling that ensued, but at the time you could imagine how off the chart my stress level would have been!

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