by Cody "Micajah" Bye
There are relatively few events in the gaming industry these days that
elicit truly emotional responses. People make announcements or
proclamations, criticism and censures, but few things take me by
surprise or really get me excited (or angered) about the situation.
However, when the merger between White Wolf and CCP was announced on
November 11, 2006, I was surprised and absolutely thrilled to see two
of my favorite gaming companies coming together to form the gaming
studio version of a "superband". While CCP had experience in the MMOG
market with their sci-fi MMOG, EVE Online, White Wolf had an equal
amount of knowledge in the tabletop roleplaying game industry with
their ever popular World of Darkness line of horror RPGs. It's now
drawing closer to the first anniversary of the newly formed company,
and CCP|White Wolf seem to be made for each other. After two tremendous
parties, one in March at GDC and another in August at GenCon, the
CCP|White Wolf crew is now the company that everyone treats as the
"place to go" when the lights dim on the convention center and everyone
is ushered out into the city air.
Mike and Hilmar
discuss the CCP|White Wolf merger and the future of the company.
To commemorate their eventual first year anniversary, CCP|White Wolf
made their two respective leaders, Hilmar Petursson (CEO of CCP) and
Mike Tinney (President of White Wolf) available for interviews at the
Austin Game Developers Conference. Not wanting to pass up such a
valuable opportunity, Ten Ton Hammer sat down with the two main men to
hear how the merger between the two companies was progressing and what
sort of plans the newly merged business has for the future.
Although I had expected both companies to fit in well together, mergers
and business partnerships are always tough on both parties involved,
even when things go as smoothly as possible. Knowing that both
companies truly held the same sort of standards certainly gave credo to
the responses that both Mike and Hilmar gave to the question. "From our
end of things, CCP has been great," Mike said. "But we're no longer two
companies that are merely working together, we're one merged company -
CCP|White Wolf - that has combined goals and combined staff between the
Iceland, Atlanta, and Shanghai offices. It was something we went into
with the best of intentions, and much to our relief and excitement its
pretty much delivered on all those."
At this point Hilmar chimed in, echoing the response from Mike in the
context of the message. "It's been effortless," he stated. "Merging is
generally not an easy thing to do, but the companies were so
complimentary with our separate strengths and experiences, and they
really just sort of blended together well. Now, in our respective
marketplaces, we have the depth of background and the staff talent to
seize the opportunity that's in the massively multiplayer online games
market today." To draw some background knowledge to Hilmar's response,
he's not only relating to EVE but also to the upcoming World of
Darkness MMOG that's being developed at the company's Atlanta studios
in conjunction with the offices in Iceland.
That being said, it would be reasonable to assume that a few players
from each of the respective products would want to crossover to the
other medium to test the waters in the company's various products.
However, assumptions can be deadly, so I was interested to see if there
had been any crossover between the product lines yet. "I think a
crossover existed before the merger ever happened," Mike said. "There
was a definite group of World of Darkness players that were existing in
the EVE universe, and a group of EVE players that are already playing
World of Darkness."
The Atlanta studio
just released a hardcover book called "The Art of EVE Online" that
featured EVE concept art.
"I was quite surprised myself," Hilmar added, "at the number of players
in EVE that were already familiar with World of Darkness. There was a
couple from New Zealand that was at our first FanFest where the future
husband proposed on stage. Later, that same couple was in Iceland again
when we announced the merger between the companies. They had actually
met while doing live action roleplaying (LARP) and that was how they
got to know each other. He now works for us in Iceland - they define
the merger for us on so many levels."
One of the more interesting items that Hilmar and Mike had to discuss
was the sort of dual-product synergy that is now going on with
CCP|White Wolf. Since the two companies joined, they have since
actively pursued any sort of "cross genre" items that the separate
companies could not have accomplished alone. While several prominent
products include the EVE CCG, the EVE roleplaying game, and the World
of Darkness MMOG, there are also a number of "smaller" products that
are going to be coming out from the combined company that really
emphasize the sort of expanded product lines the two companies now
possess. Mike and Hilmar discussed one of these sort of "side
projects", a hardcover, coffee table book dubbed "The Art of EVE
Online" that features many years of EVE art all compiled into one
amazing looking book. "I've seen all the EVE art before," Hilmar
stated. "But the new book makes it all really seem new to me again.
It's an amazing product that I think will have a lot of traction with
people who don't even know that much about online games or EVE in
"And there will be other items as well," Mike added. "Merchandise,
books, games - there's a board game in development, for example.
Anything that has to do with the EVE IP has at least been discussed or
is at least in the development stage."