To PCM-fans, 'Patrick Pliggersdorfer' may not ring a bell. To those who've been involved with the game ever since it was launched 8-9 years ago, Pliggersdorfer is a magic name: He's the CEO of Cyanide and is also known as 'Storm' on the Cyanide forum. PCM.daily has interviewed Patrick to get an idea about how Cyanide is going to deal with 2009 - a year which very well may cost the lives of many small companies due to the global financial crisis.
But let's start by introducing Patrick Pliggersdorffer (future reference: Storm) to those who've no idea who he is. As mentioned, he's the CEO of Cyanide, not to mention that he was also one of the founders - one of the 8 people who broke out of Ubisoft to start Cyanide back in 2000. Back then, Storm was an active part of the CyM-community (later PCM) - actually, of the Cyanide people, he was definitely the most active one. As time past, he slowly, but steadily decided to retract: "I just browse the forums once in a while and try not get involved in arguments anymore (too bad for my health)," Storm told me a few months ago.
He's still going strong when it comes to being the CEO of Cyanide, though. However, if you look at the current financial situation, there doesn't seem to be much to be happy about - especially not if you're a CEO of a small company like Storm is. And maybe, the financial crisis already hit Cyanide in 2008. If you look at the titles released in 08, you'll notice that they only managed to release two games: Pro Cycling Manager 2008 for PC and PSP. Storm himself calls 2008 "a transition year": "2008 was a transition year for us. We didn't release as many titles as some previous year as we pushed back a couple titles and started investing in other projects. We still did OK. Pro Cycling Manager continues to do well. We were pleasantly surprised by the good numbers of the PSP version."
In Cyanide's defence, they had actually planned a 3rd title - PCM for XBOX. It was never really 100 % officially confirmed, but according to Storm, it wasn't released due to Microsoft simply not wanting it on their platform: "I was a bit disappointed that Microsoft did not seem interested in allowing us to do an Xbox 360 version (apparently cycling is not a popular according to them)."
So if 2008 was a transition year, it would mean that there's something to look forward to this year? Apparently, yes. Three games have been announced so far: Pro Cycling Manager 2009, Blood Bowl (several platforms), and surprisingly, Cyanide has gone into the free game-market with its Dungeon Party which is set to be released in the first quarter of 2009. Storm also mentions that they've started working on the pre-production of a yet-to-be announced RPG.
More importantly, though, Storm also hints 'something' that would please us: "(...) and another title that I cannot really discuss at the moment but that would hopefully be appealing to the community of PCM.daily."
Interesting? I think so.
Another interesting prospect is Blood Bowl - a game which may have the potential to knock off Pro Cycling Manager as Cyanide's top-game (unfortunately for us). And Cyanide is, of course, fully aware of that fact: "The potential for Blood Bowl is probably bigger than PCM. The fact that cycling is not a mainstream sport in a number of big countries limits its potential (but we will always remain committed to it!). (...) We'll see what happens with it but we hope it will do very well," Storm says.
Dungeon Party might not be a top-game like Blood Bowl and Pro Cycling Manager, but Cyanide is still hoping to make money on it despite the fact that it's free. Storm admits, though, that it's a risk: "Dungeon Party is a bit trickier since we have little idea if we'll be able to pay back our development costs with the optional elements that won't be free. But that's a risk we are willing to take." In game development / economic language, the non-free optional elements are called 'micro transactions', and that's what Cyanide wants to make money of. Time will tell if Cyanide will be able to make money of these risky games.
Either way, Storm's relaxed attitude towards taking risks (in a financial crisis...) tells us that Cyanide seems to be a stable company. According to Storm, they haven't 'felt' the crisis yet: "We don't take loans. We wouldn't get any anyway. So we're not very affected. Our partners are rather solid so they continue to pay us on time. We haven't released any games since the start of the economic crisis so we haven't been able to see any impact on the sales of our titles. There will certainly be an impact but hopefully it will be limited and we should be able to weather the storm. We're still in an investing for the future mode so we're not very worried for now."
So hopefully, Cyanide will be releasing cycling games for the next 9 years. And since this interview was done for PCM.daily, a PCM-fansite, we did also get to ask some questions about Pro Cycling Manager 2009 (and 2010). Storm directly said that Cyanide was positively surprised about the success of the track mode which means that they will try to improve and add more to this part of the game for PCM09. He also mentioned that Cyanide is now having two development teams working on PCM: One team works on PCM09, one team works on PCM10.
And despite the fact that Storm tried to shut up and keep the following secret, he just couldn't hold it back: "I'll just add that we will be relasing another cycling game this year besides PCM 2009."
Let the rumours begin.
(Full documentation / interview text can be found here)