GamesBeat: It seems interesting that there’s been some decline among the very large companies. The small, independent companies seem to be on the way up, in general. You have Phillips here. They’ve been declining in size. In Finland it was Nokia. They were a job engine for a while, and then it collapsed. It almost seem like the smaller companies, the startups, are the ones that are a bigger part of the future for some companies.
Leeftink: Certainly they will be. If you look at the last 10 or 15 years or so, a company like ASML, producing chip (manufacturing equipment) with a global market share of 80 percent. That was incredible. NXP is growing in the Netherlands and expanding in Asia, for example. There are companies, in the Netherlands and in other parts of the world, which are really the new multinationals. They represent a greater change in leading companies and growing companies. Some of these changes are taking place within the Netherlands. A company like DSM — I don’t know if you know them – used to be in coal and mining, and now it’s a life sciences company.
Dexel: In between it was a chemical company. Now it’s one of the new biotech companies.
Leeftink: In the states that would have worked differently. It would have been an entirely new company. But we see a lot of—Philips itself used to be in light bulbs. Now it’s very strong in medical technology.
Dexel: If you look at the high-tech companies in Eindhoven, where Philips originally set up, there are all-new startups working in technologies that Philips originally started to grow. There are very interesting developments going on in the antennae. The Netherlands are at the top of the bill in that technology. In one or two years, that technology will be in most smartphones.
te Brake: Also, you see that entrepreneurs are standing up, and working together with government to put things in place. It’s a nice combination. That’s maybe a little bit different than Finland, if you’re looking at Finland. I would say that Holland has a very entrepreneurial spirit.
If the government can stimulate those entrepreneurs to step up and do these kind of initiatives—In this case, it’s Marcel Boekhoorn, who has sold several companies, made his own fortune, and now he’s putting it on the line to make it happen. We have the highest density of patents in all of Europe. In fact, Philips has put the blueprint down there, which is awesome. You can compare that to Nokia.
GamesBeat: It also seems like you want to create more modern jobs that can teach digital skills to your young people. You could create jobs in the oil industry, but is it more important to create jobs in the digital industry?
Leeftink: In a sense, that’s right. On the other hand, we don’t believe that a government creates jobs. What a government should do is create the right environment to let entrepreneurs and businesses do their thing and create jobs. What we see is that there are all kinds of hiccups, either because there’s some problem with the amount of seed capital, or other things.
That’s what we try to deal with. Not necessarily with investing a lot of public money in these sectors, but trying to facilitate, to stimulate, to create the right framework of conditions in terms of human capital, in terms of finance, in terms of entrepreneurship, in terms of facilities, in terms of infrastructure. For IT infrastructure is very important. We have a great infrastructure here in the Netherlands. That’s how we see our role.
Like I said, for the gaming industry, all the ingredients are available. If we don’t see a flourishing game industry yet, then we bring people together and say, “Hey, what’s wrong? How can we help? How can we join forces and take the next step?” We’re ready for that next step. It’s not really putting in a lot of public money. It’s not traditional industry policy.
Dexel: That’s why we welcome this initiative from GameOn. They can combine all the ingredients and boost it all together.
te Brake: That’s often the biggest issue. Development is one, but getting the game out there, learning from the marketing campaigns, optimizing that—There are two companies in Holland that have huge distribution networks: iQU and Spil Games. That shouldn’t be the problem. It’s focusing on the right concept – free-to-play, monetization, leveling. It might be that we’ll have to get some talent to Holland to teach and educate our young entrepreneurs here. There’s definitely a will. That’s what I see in our young gaming startups. They admire what they see happening in Finland and Asia. They definitely want to try it.
GamesBeat: It’s an ever-changing business and an interesting business. The platforms are always in flux.
te Brake: It’s going very rapidly right now. That’s another thing. If we would have done this three years ago, I think we would have been challenged. I think now, today, it’s a little bit more crystallized, where you should focus on.
But if you see how fast things have been going, the moment when we started Spil Games (in 2005), there were still companies like Oberon that were selling games for $19. Three years later, those companies were almost dead. Today they don’t exist. New gaming companies have taken their place. The speed of this industry has been really challenging for everyone.