So Happy Together: An Interview with the Leaders of CCP|White Wolf at AGDC '07

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 general."

"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."

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