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Interview #011: Nick Button-Brown - Outright Games

Is there anything better than getting your kids introduced to video games? Which game becomes their first? Do you find a co-op or have them go solo? Well you can bet your bottom dollar that if Outright Games' logo is on the cover, then that title should be at the top of your list. So sit back, relax, and let's learn more about Nick Button-Brown and Outright Games.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been in the games industry for 20 years.  I’m Chair at Outright Games, a publisher of licensed games for kids. Additionally, I am an executive at the Near Future Society, a group bringing together government, education, technology and entertainment people. I am also the former Chair of Games Committee at BAFTA. I’m also an Advisor at Sensible Object, a Connected Toys & Games company, an Advisor at Improbable, a tech start-up that has raised $500m and an Advisor at Payload Studios, developers of Terratech

My past games included:

  • Crysis 3, Ryse, and Warface from my time at Crytek

  • Battlefield, Black & White 2, Crysis, Timesplitters 3, and Freedom Fighters from my time at EA

Among other things, I also used to be a professional Dancer, appeared as the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk in pantomime and I’m a qualified rugby coach.

What was the first console/game you ever owned?’

My friend had an Atari, that I spent way too much time on. However, the first one I owned was a ZX Spectrum 48k.

Do you have any fond childhood memories based around gaming?

I loved so many games, but my abiding memory is of sitting listening to the audio of my tape player, hoping that the tape would work and not crash (you kids don’t know how easy your gaming life is now).  I loved Atic Atac and Football Manager, and of course Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner. I learnt to solder just to fix the number of joysticks broken playing Daley Thompsons Decathlon

Maybe my most telling memory about my future career was how I persuaded friends to type in the games written out long form in magazines for me to play.  I still don’t quite know how I used to get away with that.  My first gaming memory was queuing up at the Kwik Save near my house to play on the Asteroids cabinet, but rather than have a babysitter while my mum was working in Theatre, I was given a bag of coins and sent to entertain myself in the local arcades.

Let’s talk about Outright Games, a UK-based video game publisher formed in 2016. Being a family business, it makes logical sense that the primary focus is bringing family oriented games into the market. However, where did the passion to create this company come from?

I used to play games like Aladdin on the Megadrive and it always seemed like such a shame that those kinds of licensed games were not being made any more.  We thought that there was an opportunity to use strong licenses to make fun games that the big publishers no longer had any time for, and that these could work alongside their stories in TV, films and books.

Outright Games isn’t the first foray into the gaming industry for many of its founders. Can you share a few words about past experiences? I hope that we can learn from all the games we have all made.  I think now we definitely want to make better games that work for the fans and help you enjoy those worlds, but also don’t want to make just one kind of game, maybe finding different kinds of games that will be fun and work perfectly for that license.

Since 2016, OG has worked with some big brands, including: Barbie, Kung Fu Panda, Adventure Time, and more. How did these partnerships form to bring titles across multiple platforms?  We’ve released Ben 10, Adventure Time, Hotel Transylvania, and are about to release Scoot and Paw Patrol.  Our long term aim is to find a small number of really good licenses to work with.  We want to be part of the development of those licenses and really be an integral part of those stories.  We want to work with those licenses on a long term basis, to find a number of different kinds of games to work within their universes.

What is your opinion on the family gaming experience through Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and PC? It just keeps getting better and better. The kinds of games that are available are wonderfully varied. We have moved to places where kids can be much more creative and experimental through games like Minecraft and Goat Simulator.  These spaces can be safe for children to explore (but please pay attention to age ratings, they are there for really good reasons), and in particular the consoles are good at providing that safe experience.  There is of course always progress to be made and I personally have some reluctance to let my kids free on PC and in particular viewing content on platforms like YouTube and Twitch.

Being the new kid on the block, what are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch? I love the flexibility of the Switch, that balance between portable and TV play.  I love playing couch co-op games with my kids (although trying to play multiplayer Overcooked 2 with my son on a plane was a bit difficult), and I hope we can make many games for the Switch in the future

While no disrespect to the first person shooters, sports titles, and so on, it’s a breath of fresh air to see kid friendly games getting released on the consoles. Having small children of my own, your titles are the ones that I introduce to share my passion for video games. Two of your upcoming two games is Paw Patrol: On a Roll and Crayola Scoot. Could you briefly let our readers know what to expect with each title?

(Response from Courtney Lipsham, Marketing Assistant) From what we’ve seen with our own children who have been testing these games, you can expect a lot of laughter! With Paw Patrol: On a Roll, children of all ages can be involved in playing their favorite characters to collect dog bones, medals and to save the well-loved characters of Adventure Bay!

Crayola Scoot reminds me of gathering around with my family on special occasions, especially Christmas and playing 4-player split screen, which gets competitive to win the Crayola Cup but in a crazy, funny way! Obviously, we’re not competing in the online 100 multiplayer world; this game is for children to play together, in the same room, interacting with one another.

You can expect with all our games family friendly fun with recognizable faces from franchises we all know and love! We enjoy that we’re able to make just fun, family games which can be enjoyed by all ages, especially as we get to watch the enjoyment on our own families faces when they play the games!

Are there any future games in the works that you can tease today?

We have some great licenses signed up and are talking to some very interesting developers, so hopefully will be able to announce them very soon.  Soon…..

Besides your own, what upcoming games are you most looking forward to playing?

I’m looking forward to playing Terratech on PS4, which is from some friends of mine, so my son can finally play with me. Additionally, the chance of having a great Spider-Man game again alongside Read Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk, means it will be a great year for gaming on my own. Finally, I’m looking forward to Dreams to play with my kids and I definitely have a soft spot for Ooblets.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share?

I think Games can be a tremendous force for good in the world, and hopefully we can use games to help teach and educate kids about important issues as well as providing fun and entertainment. I think our industry has a responsibility to use our medium to do good.

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