As masters of their craft, Streamline Media Group have naturally been busy. Most recently, the international studio saw Stefan Baier and Neil Haldar appointed as Executive Vice President and Vice President, respectively for the studio’s new publishing arm.
Naturally, it’s big news- we’d talked to Stefan before, and relished the chance to talk to him and Neil about everything from their unique fields of expertise to looking towards the future as Streamline gets in on the publishing game.
You can read Stefan and Neil’s thoughts below:
As Stefan is based in Malaysia, how do Streamline’s Malaysia-based studios benefit from Streamline’s publishing arm?
Stefan: All our studios around the world are connected through our internal management tool, Streamframe, and maintained by our global teams and brands. I think no matter where you are located, as our brands are set up to operate independent of location, we will support our teams no matter if they are based in one of our offices, call in remotely, or are in a different timezone.
Was the move to Executive VP of publishing from COO due to any personal focus on publishing indie games?
Stefan: The move and creation of our publishing group was a natural next step for us. Our teams are designing and authoring games and metaverse experiences that require a focus to get them positioned and launched in the market. As we expand across the globe, we understand it is time to bring in new talented leadership to help us reach the next level, and hence we have recently announced all the new additions to the operations, executive, and product leadership teams.
I think, yes you could say it’s to focus more on indie games, but we have to define modern indies as anything from 1 to 99 people at this point as many independent companies have also been scaling up rapidly. But yes, we’re happy to work with internal or external partners to build the next hit titles.
Considering Neil’s own experience in mobile games, could we expect to see more mobile games being developed internally by Streamline?
Neil: I think the parts that make a mobile game great – a live service, dynamic changes to enhance the product, and keeping teams smaller to focus on innovative gameplay – will be hallmarks coming from some of Streamline’s games.
Our past has been console and PC AAA and that amazing theatrical-quality creative and experience will always be present in our works. As mobile has matured, the market and business scenarios have greatly crystallized and it’s clear mobile can be a sort of do-anything platform. I think you’ll see us embracing mobile as a terrific platform to reach new audiences with the stories and games we want to world to enjoy.
Do you guys have any goals for Streamline’s publishing arm in the next 5 years?
Stefan & Neil: Streamline started with the idea of helping others bring their ideas to life. Publishing continues that story, and a terrific goal for us would be to help others bring their games to market so their ideas and dreams can be realized, across platforms and territories. We have a uniquely diverse cultural mix, representing people from many of the corners of the world. Our diversity makes us strong, and we are proud of that. We hope to use this to our advantage by building global products in ways only a team with such diversity can understand.
What kind of resources do you hope to provide from a publishing end for your developers?
Stefan & Neil: We have always been a champion of the small-to-mid-sized team; their concentration and passion matches our own, and I expect us to treat them like equals, sharing the passion and the energy as we help them in their budgets to market, distribute, and bring terrific games into the world.
Could you talk about Streamline’s core values when it comes to publishing games?
Stefan & Neil: By far, our core value has always been about making the impossible happen. Our founders began Streamline as a small shop where they lived and ate together in a walk-up apartment house in Amsterdam. We know what it means to be bootstrapped and to believe in yourself. We think values like passion, integrity, discipline, and focus are among the important things we would bring to every publishing relationship.
The Future Is Innovative And Platform-Agnostic
Nowadays, it seems like a lot of game coverage is either big triple-A publishers or working-out-their-garage indies. Could you talk about the role of mid-range publishers like Streamline in keeping the market diverse?
Stefan: There is a lot of shake-up in our industry, with mergers and acquisitions, and new players and platforms entering – or exiting. I think the opportunity comes from looking at all the turbulence and finding new and creative opportunities that will be overlooked by the big conglomerates that move slower and will have to watch the moves of their big major opponents. For us, we can move in between them, take different risks, find more unusual content and give it a chance at low risk.
Recent acquisitions have shown that there is an overall market trend towards mobile and casual game experiences (such as with the Zynga and King acquisitions). Could you comment on that please?
Stefan & Neil: There have also been several acquisitions recently that were very console and traditional-gaming focused such as Activision-Blizzard of course. I think the current trend is towards building semi-closed ecosystems for players such as Steam, Microsoft Gamepass, and so on. It’s about gaining users and retaining them, and beloved IP and big-budget productions play a crucial role in that, no matter if on console or mobile.
On the topic of mobile games, we see titles like Genshin Impact also spending a lot of marketing budget in the SEA region. What do you guys think of the region for more casual levels of gaming?
Neil: Genshin Impact is not that casual of a game but rather a high-production value game with a lot of polish and care put into it – playable on both console and mobile devices. I think this is a future trend we will see continue to pick up speed: Mainstream titles that become increasingly platform-agnostic. As for why developers of course pay attention to the SEA region: It’s a region with many young people, rich in culture with a large population, and quickly adapting to high-end mobile devices and consoles as their income increases year on year. Of course we should pay attention, especially as regulation in China makes access harder.
With games like Bake ‘n Switch, Streamline has also shown that you don’t need a huge team with the size and funding of a small country to make a critically acclaimed game. Can you talk about that as well please?
Stefan: A game of any size can become a darling of the community. In the end, we’re entering a phase in the industry where many types of games have already been created, and many titles are sequels or somewhat copies of each other. This creates a demand by players to –innovate-, take risks and find ways to design something unique. Hence, players seem to actually become more tolerant of lower production values or more basic graphics, see Roblox or Among Us, and will still embrace it – because it’s fun. This is a promising trend where many different kinds of games will be created and that’s a good thing.