THQ's Danny Bilson • Page 2

It's make-or-break time for THQ's outspoken head of core games – and he knows it.

Eurogamer: What about Saints Row 3? Are you going to talk about that in detail fairly soon?

Danny Bilson: A secret weapon would not be a secret weapon if I spoil the secret. That's my quote.

Eurogamer: How did Online Pass with the last UFC game work out for you? Will you continue to use it?

Danny Bilson: We experiment every time with what makes the most sense in terms of not offending the used gamer. It's not a penalty. Respecting the new game buyer and making money. We keep trying different things.

You'll see with Homefront, we let everybody play every map up to level five of progression and then we ask the used game buyer only to pay for the service, because we're supporting it live. We've built the game. You know the whole story – we don't make any money on a used game.

But still, to us, a used gamer is a gamer and part of our core constituency. Even though we're not making their money, they're spending their money on the game. They don't track who's getting it and who's not. We don't want to offend. But we really want to encourage them to buy the games new, so there is no Online Pass. If you buy the game new, we don't have to talk about this stuff.

Eurogamer: This is a massive year for THQ. You've said this is the point where the fruit starts to fall off the tree and people have to pick it up. What happens if this year doesn't work out quite that well and Homefront and Red Faction don't work out massively? What would that mean for THQ next year and you personally?

Danny Bilson: It doesn't mean that much for this year because after that comes Space Marine and [deliberately muffled voice – it sounded a bit like Saints Row 3]. And then we have UFC coming again and a lot of big titles. Our whole world isn't around Homefront.

However, what does it mean for me personally? Probably you won't be interviewing this guy next year and I won't have to deal with these sensitive questions. They'll bring somebody else in who can answer these things.

You gotta succeed to stay alive in this business. All I know is those games are good. Red Faction is quality. Hopefully good games will continue to sell and stand out from the crowd. That's the only strategy we have – good games.

Are we dead? No. We've got some unbelievable stuff coming right after those. Every quarter we've got a major game for the next three years. We've been building a solid line-up. It's a long investment.

Eurogamer: In light of what happened with Jason West and Vince Zampella, signing Patrice Désilets (formerly of Ubisoft Montreal) as THQ Montreal studio head must have been a really big thing. Did you fly him on a private jet to your home?

Danny Bilson: No. What we did was build a culture and a system that supports creative first. That's all we did. We said, 'We're going to support your vision and we're going to build out from that. We're not going to impose our vision on you.'

Eurogamer: So he came to you?

Danny Bilson: Yeah, through CAA [Creative Artists Agency] who was representing him. And then he went everywhere, like all these guys do.

I believe we have the best place to work for creative people. And if you ask those two guys you just mentioned where they would have preferred to work but for one deal point in the contract, they would have liked to join our team, too. But I couldn't give them a certain thing that EA could in the deal.

Eurogamer: A million lawyers?

Danny Bilson: It has to do with IP ownership and some stuff around that.

Eurogamer: About the SyFy movie that's coming out for Red Faction. We saw Ultramarines: The Movie recently and it was horrible. How will you assure that the movie won't hurt the Red Faction game?

Danny Bilson: We have to have as much involvement in it as we can. On that one, we wrote the story ourselves. It ties with the world. We were all over the script. The thing about film is if you have a good script and a good cast you're about 80 per cent to good. That's the most important thing. We have a good script and a good cast. We've got a couple of our guys flying to the location for the conclusion of prep and the beginning of shooting.

It's an experiment. There's always a gamble. But it's a partnership. SyFy knows if this isn't good we're not doing any more stuff with them. I don't think it's at risk on quality.

Funding has a lot to do with it. I believe the issue with the movie you're talking about was, as I watched as an old film maker, it was built to get two hours of film out of that money. That's why there were so many sequences of just the squad walking around in the dust. It was production. It wasn't creative. Dan Abnett wrote it. He's one of the best 40k writers. It needed more money. It was slow. As a fan I still was thrilled just to see the ship flying around.

It looked much worse than any Dawn of War CGI. The in-game graphics of Dawn of War look better than that. But you didn't have anything to do with it. It was a Games Workshop production.

We had nothing to do with it. But we spend more money per minute than they did on that movie, period. It's that simple. We spend more money per second. That's what it was. Honestly. For them trying to get something up for that price, they got something up and it wasn't disrespectful to the IP. It was just slow. Not enough happened and it didn't have a good enough pace.

I still loved seeing the Ultramarines and their equipment and seeing the stuff I like in the models. I like the models. I paint them myself. I'm a fan. The reason our stuff is better is because it's a much bigger investment per second of money. They didn't fund that, either. They supported or licensed that out. It had really good voice acting.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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