Interviews

Bulkypix’s Dondaine on App Store, innovation and secret Vivendi IP

Everybody recognises the French Touch

Bulkypix’s Dondaine on App Store, innovation and secret Vivendi IP
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| Bulkypix News

Timing isn’t everything, but when it comes to making it on the App Store it could be considered at least 50 per cent of it. And Paris studio Bulkpix timed its birth just right. Not that it had a lot of say in the matter.

Conceived in 2008 when the merger of Activision and Blizzard resulted in Vivendi Games being picked over and divided up, Bulkypix spun out of the highly regarded Vivendi Games Mobile studio (Urban Attack, Crash Bandicoot).

It’s since hit the ground running with two games released to App Store - interactive video thriller Hysteria Project and social high score viral game BaDaBoo.

We caught up with CEO Vincent Dondaine (pictured) to find out what it’s like moving from an organisation of thousands to an office of ten.

Pocket Gamer: What's it's like being a relatively new startup? It is what you expected?

Vincent Dondaine: It's very exciting; I previously worked for Vivendi Games Mobile and particularly on Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart. I was really proud to launch that game and to see it go on to become the number one paid app ever, but I have to say it's totally different to see your own company release games.

But the first two games from Bulkypix have a bigger place in my heart as we made them with our team, who are all brilliant and experienced. I see this every day. I think we have everything that is necessary to create really good games and become a well known company.

Is it what I expected? Yes and more than this, it's stimulating. You have 48 hours of work a day but I like this. It's different from my past experiences. It's more difficult to exist as Bulkypix than Vivendi Games Mobile for sure, but it allows us to learn how to be innovative without a big budget, specifically regarding the marketing.

How to exist with more than 40,000 other applications? We have our idea about that. There are plenty of ways to get known without any money. Two words - Viral and Social.

As a French company, do you think you're at a disadvantage as the main App Store markets are English language?

Regarding different national markets, I must say your games definitely needs to be attractive to the US market as it's by far the biggest, but things are moving and markets growing.

As a French company I think we have an advantage regarding the design and artistic part of games. Everybody recognised the French Touch in the past but from my point of view it's still there.

The App Store allows developers like us to grow as new companies and to release innovative games. From a language perspective, it's not a problem at all to release our games in a market where the majority speak English.

We are used to working with good translation companies. All our games are translated in five languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish) so it's definitely not a problem.

The App Store is becoming crowded now so how do you think small developers can make a big impact as the likes of EA, Warners and Paramount start to gear up?

When it comes to the Hysteria Project for example, who knew about it last December? But now we've received thousands of emails asking us for the sequel.

There's a lot of competition on the App Store for sure but it doesn't mean there's not enough space for everyone. Apple understands the App Store allows companies to emerge with games like Pocket God or iShoot.

There are big budget games (this doesn't always mean quality but I recognise it helps), but there are also others who create brilliant and innovative ideas on a tight budget. Apple is always trying to help brilliant and innovative ideas so there will continue to be a place for small developers.

Will you also be working on other platforms such as Android, N-Gage, smartphone, DSiWare, WiiWare, PSN?

Regarding Android, I still have some doubts. One thing that frightens me is that it seems to be developing in the same way as Java/J2ME. There will be plenty of different devices in the future, but plenty of different screen sizes, different technical capacities, amd different Android integrations.

You will have to port your game across hundreds of phones and this is not profitable for small developers. The past has proved this - small Java developers are dead.

For sure, we are studying other smartphone platforms and particularly WiiWare and DSiWare. And we bought some licences from Vivendi Games Mobile so you will see great things coming from us in this area before the end of the year.

Thanks to Vincent for his time.

And you can also read our interview with him concerning Hysteria Project Episode 2 and less scary stories over on Pocket Gamer.