Interview: Endemol Games

Interview: Endemol Games
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

October 20th 2010 at 3:00PM

Jurian Van der Meer talks about the newly formed Endemol Games

Last week, Endemol UK announced the formation of a games division. The production company responsible for Big Brother and Deal or No Deal now plans to extend its properties to the rapidly growing gaming market.

The studio’s managing director, formerly head of products and brand exploitation, Jurian Van der Meer explained why Endemol UK chose to enter the online gaming market, what they plan to produce and their aspirations for the division.

How do you feel about heading up this venture for Endemol in the interactive entertainment space?
This is a great opportunity to expand into new areas of growth and it’s exciting to launch Endemol Games at a time when there is more and more cross over between entertainment and gaming.

Why did Endemol decide to enter the gaming market? And why now?
Endemol has a vast portfolio of hit programmes that lend themselves perfectly to an online presence. Endemol UK has already established a strong position in the gaming space and the launch of Endemol Games UK is a reflection of our increasing activities in this area and a logical extension to our business.

You’ve set your sights on the online gaming market specifically. What is it about this space that you feel is right for your business?
Endemol has an extensive catalogue of successful formats that crossover seamlessly into games. We’ve found our clients and companies are searching for more branded content and Endemol’s formats are perfect as they are already well known to a huge audience.

Endemol is responsible for a large selection of television hits, such as Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. How strongly will you be leveraging your own properties with this new venture?
Our brands are already instantly recognised and attract a wide audience, so without a doubt we’ll be creating innovative and compelling games using our own properties. However, we also plan to further expand and represent third-party IP and we’ve just announced a partnership with Bishoff- Hervey Entertainment to create online slot games for the global icon Hulk Hogan.

Endemol Games will be licensing and monetising titles. Will this new branch actively be producing games or will it be overseeing licensees?
We are a specialised unit with a strong track record for creating original games, so we plan to continue to develop the majority of online gaming applications. However, for other platforms such as land-based and mobile we are likely to oversee the licenses.

Can you tell us what sort of titles you, or your licensees, will be creating?
There is always a wide scope of activity of our titles to be created by us and our licensees. For example, there are endless possibilities for Endemol’s latest hit The Million Pound Drop, which saw over three million games played online during the show’s six night run on Channel 4. Players at home could mirror the nail biting decisions faced by the contestants as they struggled to hold on to their million. Other extensions for this format could include pub quiz games as well as online games for lottery and bingo partners.

And what platforms will they be available on?
We always focus on a wide range of platforms, but each platform must stay true to the brand values and the model must work for all partners involved. This is always the case whether it’s online, mobile or social media.

How will you attract TV audiences to your new entertainment offering?
We’ve always pioneered digital extensions to our brands and we have a proven record for developing branded games for our shows. We’ve built a massive fan base and we’re able to drive them to our games.

Many TV shows now give audiences the chance to extend their experience through online actives, like games and voting, that run in parallel with the series. How closely will your games tie-in with TV shows?
Our games will tie in very closely with the TV show. The Million Pound Drop is an excellent example of engaging the TV audience in the gaming sphere. The play along game saw over three million games played online during the show’s six night run on Channel 4. We’ve always initiated digital extensions of our shows - another example is 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live. This extension broke new ground in multiplayer gaming.

What are your aspirations for Endemol Games?
We’re beginning to see the audience bring their iPads and other tablets into the living room and Endemol Games can fulfil a great part in creating engaging and entertaining content for this audience. We have the ambition to play a leading role in this new area - we’re only just beginning to see what will come from TV internet applications and other new platforms.

And, of course, we’ll continue to partner with the key gaming and gambling companies to create original betting games based on our formats. We also plan to further expand into third-party licensing deals.