ICO Partners’ CEO Thomas Bidaux on commercial models in PC and console

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Starting his career in online games in 1999, Thomas Bidaux is one of the most experienced professionals in that sector. In 2004, he set up the European subsidiary of the online games publishing giant NCsoft. He left in 2008 to set-up ICO Partners, an agency set-up to support studios’ self-publishing aspirations on every level.

Bidaux features on a panel at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020 where he will be exploring commercial models in PC and console with other experts.

We caught up with Bidaux before the online-only conference taking place this September to see what’s changed in the games industry since he joined, and what trends he expects to see over the next 12 months in the industry.

PocketGamer.biz: Tell is a bit about ICO Partners

My recommendation would be for anyone looking to get into the industry to focus on their strengths and what they can contribute to

Thomas Bidaux: ICO is a videogames agency specialised in publishing. We unlock our clients’ self-publishing potential with communications, business intelligence and marketing services.

What does your role entail?

I supervise the business, meet with studios’ leadership to understand their needs and establish how they can meet their objectives.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

It was a natural fit with my own interests in games of all types (video, tabletop, LARP).

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

The industry has grown a lot since I started (and got lucky to be very honest). My recommendation would be for anyone looking to get into the industry to focus on their strengths and what they can contribute to. There is a wide range of skills required in all different sorts of companies, if you focus on what you are good at, understand how these skills can contribute to a game, this is the path to follow.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

I am glad the industry didn’t suffer too much from the insanity that 2020 has been for so many others. I think it is important to note that while the video games industry has done well financially from that period, everyone has had to deal with new challenges, with our work environment having to be reinvented on short notice, as well as the mental and emotional burden that (a very much needed) self isolation has imposed on us. I wish for these last 12 months to be challenges that allow us to become better as an industry, kinder to our colleagues and partners. The latest revelations of the toxic culture at Ubisoft will also lead to more discussions on how we can be better to each other.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The new generation of consoles will lead a lot of the discussions and the strategic development of many companies.

From a business point of view, there is no doubt that the new generation of consoles will lead a lot of the discussions and the strategic development of many companies. They will take a lot of mindshare and will make a lot of noise during that period. It will also be the first generation of consoles that will actually care about indie titles as part of their initial line-up, even if there won’t be many of them still. We can certainly expect a consolidation of the streaming services, especially with Xcloud and the Game Pass. On the human side, we will see a shift towards not only for employers to be more accepting about working from home, but also more empathy towards the staff. Not all organisations will adapt, of course, but it will become a larger topic and bigger criteria when applying for a job. Smaller studios, with experienced teams, will become more prevalent.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

I started in 1999 on online games. That particular sector has evolved massively, obviously. We were selling MMOs in boxes at retail still. The democratisation of the creation tools (Unity and Unreal), as well as the opening up of the distribution platforms to a much wider range of game makers are definitely the biggest vectors of the biggest changes we have seen in the industry. And the changes are still happening today, and anyone in this sector needs to stay on their toes to keep up with how the environment is evolving.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

With physical events on a hiatus, I am really looking forward to connecting with new people through the meeting system.

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