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World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

Interview: Massive comments on buyout

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We contacted Massive Entertainment's vice president David Polfeldt with some questions regarding their future after the recent owner shift from Sierra (Activision Blizzard) to Ubisoft. While the status of the World in Conflict expansion Soviet Assault is still unknown - it is clear that Ubisoft see some kind of future for the World in Conflict franchise as it was included in the deal.

How has the last 6 months been since you realized you were no longer part of the future within Activision Blizzard?

It's been very interesting and a mix of many emotions. All in all, we were not terribly worried about our future, but it is important to remain humble and there have been many things outside of our own control that could have gone wrong.

The most frustrating thing for us has probably been not to know for sure which projects to work on. People here are very focused on getting the job done, and to spend a lot of time on tuning things into perfection. Without a clear publisher relationship our development work becomes a bit academic, and that didn't suit us at all.

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What explanation were you given for the decision to sell you? Do you feel that you were given an honest chance to prove yourselves?

The decision is pretty straightforward and publicly known; Activision didn't see how to fit another RTS studio into their portfolio next to Blizzard.

Has it been hard to retain staff and to keep them enthusiastic with an uncertain future hanging over your heads?

It hasn't been that hard, we were very clear about our goals and our opportunities, and we tried to keep everybody well informed at all times. But regardless, this type of thing puts a heavy strain on individuals, and of course it's not a comfortable experience to be sold off. Compared to the previous two or three years this was a less positive period for us, but honestly I think that we got through it quite effortlessly.

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Were there other alternative buyers? Why did Ubisoft end up being the company that bought you?

Only Activision can give you that answer.

What is the state of World In Conflict Soviet Assault, for PC? Console?

This will be communicated at an appropriate time through the normal channels.

Are the rights to Ground Control a part of the acquisition, and will you return to that franchise in the future?

Ground Control was not a part of the deal. That franchise is currently owned by Activision Blizzard.

Ubisofts CEO Yves Guillemot mentioned recently that Massive is a key to Ubisofts MMO plans. Can you comment on this?

Haha, no I can't! We've been a part of Ubisoft for only a few weeks, so if you have questions about Ubisoft's strategy, you should ask Ubisoft's management team.

Looking at the RTS genre, how do you think it will develop over the next few years?

Short term, the interesting thing is the transition from PC to console. Games like End War and Halo Wars will show us if you can enjoy strategy games played on a console.

After that, hm, well, who knows? We are looking at some high level concepts for the genre, but it is too early to talk about these things.

Have you personally made any conclusions based on what you have been going through the last six months? Anything that will make Massive stronger in the future?

After being "hidden" inside Vivendi Games since 2002 it was extremely interesting to open up and have candid conversations with other people in the industry, to share experiences and to dive into deep discussions about the future of games. It is rare to have a chance like that, and this has been highly educational for me, as it has been for many of us. It is clear that the demands on a quality developer are higher than ever, and we will have to keep pushing our own limits if we want to remain a top studio. With Ubisoft, we feel that we have every chance to reach new heights. Stay tuned.

World in Conflict: Soviet Assault

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