Last week, we reported that SouthPeak Interactive purchased fellow publisher Gamecock Media. Little detail was given, aside from the purchase announcement itself. Now, sources reported exclusively to Newsarama that part of the buyout includes the closure of Gamecock’s offices in Austin, Texas. We contacted SouthPeak about the transition and closure, and what exactly this means for Gamecock’s employees, and the games they’ve been helping bring to the market. Melanie Mroz, CEO of SouthPeak Interactive gave us the details.
Newsarama: Starting with the newest piece of news, we've been told by a reliable source that SouthPeak plans to close Gamecock's Austin, TX offices, and merge them with the Grapevine, TX SouthPeak office. How was this decision made?
Melanie Mroz: Your reliable source may be hearing a lot of things internally now as discussions are ongoing. All employees are naturally nervous in this kind of transition. At this point, the office is not closing. Our plan is to continue operations through the end of the year. We are relying on key folks at Gamecock to not only help in the business combination but also to assist in bringing Mushroom Men and Legendary to market. Looking out to 2009, we are still in the planning phase. It may or may not make sense to keep an office in Austin. Ask me again in January.
NRAMA: Will the buyout result in jobs lost at Gamecock? Are the Austin employees being given the opportunity/means to move?
MM: There have been no layoffs. Many folks are excited to join us at our corporate office in Grapevine. Although we are prepared for some to not stick around and we would support their decision.
NRAMA: Should this be seen as an abandonment of the Gamecock brand? What exactly are the terms of the buyout, as far as how the games that were under the Gamecock arm are concerned?
MM: We have not made any final decisions on the Gamecock brand.
NRAMA: Mike Wilson, CEO of Gamecock, was quoted in the initial press release last week, but it wasn't really said what he'll be doing for the merged company. Can you tell us what his new role will be?
MM: We are still talking with Mike about his role in the SouthPeak family but we don’t have a deal in place yet. We really respect the work he has done and look forward to working with him.
NRAMA: Are any of Gamecock's pipeline games going to be dropped as a result of the buyout?
MM: Right now, we are focused on Legendary and Mushroom Men. After these ship, we’ll have more announcements of upcoming titles.
NRAMA: How does this affect the Gamecock/Gametap deal? Should PC gamers still look forward to digital download through the gaming hub service? Will SouthPeak's other titles be made available through the service now as well?
MM: We really haven’t looked into this yet. It’s on the list.
NRAMA: Gamecock's mission was to bring independent developers to the mainstream, giving new game makers a voice in a gigantic and sometimes crowded industry. Will this style of publishing still be pursued?
MM: If you are familiar with SouthPeak, our stated mission is to employ independent studios and seek out unique IPs. We are not interested in building a bulky, unmanageable internal development team. Rather, we seek developers around the world that can bring us something new and fresh. I know we see eye to eye on this issue with the Gamecock management team and we believe that fostering and supporting indies is core to our success.
NRAMA: Speaking to the gaming industry as a whole, there has been a trend in recent years of buyouts and consolidations. Can you explain briefly how this is good for business, and how it's good for gamers?
MM: Buyouts and consolidations are inevitable in any industry. In some cases, it’s an economic need and in other cases it’s ‘like’ companies joining forces. In the case of Gamecock, the deal just made sense. We have provided the company with a bigger platform for their games by bringing them to a much stronger sales force and distribution channel. Gamers ultimately win by having these products come to market.
NRAMA: Is there any other information you'd like to make sure gets out to the gamers out there?
MM: Buy Mushroom Men and Legendary. It’s those titles that will ultimately illustrate the influence Gamecock has had on the industry.