Martin Brouard is an extremely busy man. Holding the title of Executive Producer at the largest Canadian-owned video game studio means that a lion’s share of responsibility and accountability rest on his shoulders.
With more than thirteen projects spanning multiple platforms under his belt as Executive Producer during his more than five year long tenure with Frima Studio; it’s evident that Martin’s contributions to both the studio and the industry in Canada are invaluable.
Considering the wealth of knowledge and experience Martin brings to the table, it’s clear that when speaking about the state of Frima Studio and the state of video games as a medium in this country; there are not many individuals more qualified.
Graciously Martin made himself available during a hectic Steam: Greenlight campaign for Zombie Tycoon II for a candid interview that looks not only at Frima Studio, but also the future of the industry at large.
Brian Sharon: What does it mean for Frima Studio to be Canada’s largest independently owned game developer?
Martin Brouard: Frima has around 350 employees but it is still privately owned by its three founders and this gives the company a lot of freedom. While an important part of the business is servicing for clients all around the world, the department of intellectual properties’ main focus is to create original brands and titles in gaming and animation. So we have the backbone of a big organisation and the freedom and creativity of a smaller independent studio. It’s a great combo really.
Brian: In an industry that has seen some big studios fold in recently years, how has Frima Studio found a way to not only survive, but to thrive?
Martin: Doing top quality servicing work for some of the world’s most respected entertainment companies is one reason. Creating original IP’s with reasonable budgets and an eye for reducing risk is another. Also, the owners being very available and literally part of the team makes Frima like a big family. People are proud to work here and it shows in the final products.
Brian: Even with new consoles on the horizon, there seems to be a shift in the industry towards indie games. Why do you think this is?
Martin: Gaming is undergoing an important part of its young history at the moment. Some people are finally realizing that it’s a valid medium. Browser games and mobile devices have opened the player demographics enormously. There are way more titles being released every year and their quality and originality varies a lot.
It’s a gold rush and these are crazy but very exciting times to work in this industry. I see the current indie phenomenon as an auteur driven school of thought. Like the French new wave in cinema in the early sixties. Some very talented creative people who have decided that they’d rather make smaller more artistic productions than work on big blockbuster products. These games might not rake in as much money as AAA sequels, but many of them are doing good enough to earn these artists a good living while building up a canon of seminal titles that will forever benefit this medium.
That being said, I do not believe the industry is shifting toward indie games. It’s just that the really good ones receive a good coverage in the industry press and those of us that have a profound love for the medium are extremely happy about it. Now, what would be nice is for the mainstream press to catch up like they did for graphic novels when Maus was released.
Brian: Frima Studio has deep portfolio including mobile games. How have your experiences on other platforms influenced console games such as Zombie Tycoon II?
Martin: Frima is a very polyvalent multiplatform company and our teams have touched on pretty much all the genres. I guess this is why we did very well with Zombie Tycoon 2’s biggest challenge: designing awesome controls for an RTS on a console.
Brian: Speaking of Zombie Tycoon II, you are currently in the middle of a Steam: Greenlight campaign, can you elaborate a bit on your experience in this process?
Martin: Our Steam Greenlight campaign went very well. We were greenlit in only 22 days, which is really good. The vast majority of the comments we received were extremely positive and the Steam community is genuinely excited about this game. The team is now hard at work and we are planning to launch Zombie Tycoon 2 on Steam in early December.
The Zombie Tycoon 2: Brainhov’s Revenge Greenlight page can be found here.
Even though the game has been greenlit we are still happy to receive comments and feedback.
Brian: If people are looking to play Zombie Tycoon II but don’t own a PC, where else is it available?
Martin: Zombie Tycoon 2 is available now on PlayStation Network as a cross buy, cross play title for PS3 and PS Vita. This means that you buy it once and get both versions. It’s perfect to play death matches with a friend at home if you got both consoles.It will also soon be available in awesome high resolution on Nvidia’s Shield portable console.