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  Exclusive Interview with Acclaim CEO Howard Marks  

Another Encore
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Acclaim CEO Howard Marks discusses his role and the future of MMO's

When word broke that game publisher Acclaim was being resurrected, the gaming community was abuzz with what this could mean. A game publisher that had been around for over seventeen years, when word was announced that they were pulling the plug in 2004, most thought it was the company's final breath.

Fast forward to 2005 with entrance of Howard Marks, video game publishing veteran and former Activision CEO, who had the vision and ambition to resurrect the fading brand. But, with a new leader at the helm comes a new approach to reclaiming the slice of the gaming market. Taking a giant leap into the future, Acclaim sees multi-player online gaming as the inevitable focal point of the industry in the coming years. But how can they offer their content for free and still turn a profit?

The answer may be in in-game advertising and the ability to get players to upsize to more exclusive and premium content once they're hooked. Think about TV. And, what about HBO? With Howard Mark's track record, having pulled off a similar feat by re-invigorating Activision in 1991, the veteran publisher may have just what it takes to re-invent an esteemed known quantity.

LQGaming Services: recently sat down with Howard Marks to discuss his master plan, and how he plans to introduce gamers in the West to casual multi-players like the upcoming robot battles of BOTS and the more involving martial arts themed-MMO 9Dragons.

LQGaming Services:: First off, tell us a little about what's going on with Acclaim these days. How did you find yourself at the helm and in what direction do you see yourself taking the company?

Howard Marks: Actually, it was by accident. I was having breakfast with my Dad and when I came across the newspaper article that Acclaim was looking for a buyer. Within five minutes after discussing the idea, I called them to discuss a deal. The direction I am taking with Acclaim is to go for the future of this industry which I believe is publishing online games that are downloaded and multi-player. All of our games will have a free-to-play component with virtual item selling and subscription for higher levels. We are going to use appropriate in-game advertising so that we are able to offer our games for free to our players.

"The Acclaim brand has been experienced by over 200 millions players. Players remember the games they have enjoyed and associate the brand with that experience."
LQGaming Services:: Why the Acclaim brand? Why not start a new company with a new name?

Howard Marks: I have been asked this question many times. I believe that brands are critical to success in the games field. The Acclaim brand has been experienced by over 200 millions players. Players remember the games they have enjoyed and associate the brand with that experience. This type of relationship is extremely hard to re-create. When I and my partners bought Activision in 1991, we believed that the company had a great brand and I guess we were proven right. At that time, we were asked the same question.

LQGaming Services:: Do you have any rights over any previous Acclaim titles? Would you have an opportunity or do you intend to redevelop any of these games for the present or future market?

Howard Marks: We have expressively chosen to not be in the sequel business. We think players want creative and original products offered as online games. If they want sequels they can play video games. That's pretty much what they will find available.

LQGaming Services:: What was it like in the earlier days when video game producers were trying to define the dynamics of gameplay, especially in hindsight?

Howard Marks: It was an extremely exciting time. We would sit around the table and try to define the next big idea for our games. Gameplay was critical but the real innovation was to offer 3D live graphics and movies right from the video game console. Players responded to that by buying more games and thus the industry grew quickly.

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Do you think you'll ever get too old for video gaming?

Absolutely, we all have to grow up sometime.

Maybe, when real life demands more of my time.

No way, video gaming will always be an entertainment option for me.

Never, I'm looking forward to pwning my grandkids.

I don't know


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