GamesBeat: How are you doing on which territories to reach?
Tallarico: We’re launching in North America, Europe, and potentially the Middle East, all at the same time. That’s our plan right now. We’re also talking to Australia, that area. I was in China for a week. We met with the Chinese government, some big players over there, about potentially — over in China they’re very family-oriented. If you think we have problems over here with mobile screen time, over there it’s a whole other level. When we were talking to them about our solution, they flipped out. They loved it.
So we’re talking to China as well because no one’s been able to break the Chinese market. I know Tencent and Nintendo are trying the Switch now. We’ll see how that works. But again, for us, those young families, there’s a whole bunch of them over there as well.
GamesBeat: How many people have you grown the company to now?
Tallarico: We have about 35 people in-house. Last time we talked it was probably around 20 or so. We have more than 300 people in development working on games for us.
GamesBeat: A smaller group of people can make each game.
Tallarico: That’s the beauty of it. We’re not making Call of Duty or Red Dead 2. The style of games that I showed you, the Earthworm Jims — look at our Earthworm Jim game back then. A programmer, two or three artists, an audio guy, producer, designer. You’re talking about teams of six to 10 people. Something like Farkle, a dice game or card game, you’re talking about five or six months. Some of the more in-depth games, nine months to a year.
We got $1 million from the Bavarian government over in Germany. That’s where our European home office is, in Nuremberg. They give us $1 million because they loved the idea and the concept so much. We have to spend that money on development in Germany. We’re working on seven games for that money. That gives you an idea — again, you’re talking about seven to 10 people working for nine months. Our budgets are $150,000, $200,000, maybe $250,000 on the high end. It’s a completely different business model.
Most indie developers who are designing for mobile or PC, they’re either bootstrapping it from scratch, sweat equity, living in mom’s basement while they do it, or six guys in a dorm room together, or they’re going to Kickstarter and crowdfunding to get their dream realized. We’re coming along saying, “Wow, we like that. Can we make it unique for our system?”
Everything on the system is exclusive. That doesn’t mean that — if we’re doing a game like our version of Breakout, it doesn’t mean there won’t be another Breakout. But our Breakout that we’re doing, that we’re paying for, that we’re designing, that we’re making for couch co-op, that we’re using our screen and gyroscope to do, that version cannot be played — not that it won’t be, but it can’t be. The way we’re designing all our games, it’s specific to this. You’ll either like it or not. A hardcore gamer might be turned off. A lot of people hated motion controls on the Wii, and a lot of people loved it.
We’re going to stay in our lane. We know what we’re good at. We know what we can accomplish. We don’t feel that anyone else is doing it like we’re doing it.
GamesBeat: How do you feel about the reality of the up-front investment for you? Is that turning out as you expected?
Tallarico: It’s interesting. Anyone who’s gone through creating a startup, especially something as big and crazy as this, there’s always — it never ends. The money raising never ends. But we have so much passion. Everyone in the company, everything we’re doing, it’s going along great.
Is it perfect? No. It’s never perfect. It’s always, something we think will happen doesn’t happen, but something we never thought would happen comes through. It’s hard. It’s difficult. I’ll be honest. But if this was easy then everyone would do it. We have the team that — we have no fear. We know that we’’re going to hit tons of roadblocks along the way. For us, it’s a matter of not giving up or quitting when we hit those roadblocks. Okay, how are we going to get over it, go around it, dig underneath? How are we going to get by this?
We understand that there will be rough roads and hard decisions we have to make. The best thing we can do is keep trucking and keep doing the best we can.
GamesBeat: You can collect some extra financing from Roblox for this.
Tallarico: [Laughs] Let’s hope so! It’s interesting. You did a story on it. Roblox admits to distributing my property to hundreds of millions of people, which then turned into a worldwide meme and videos and helped to draw — tens of millions of people found out about Roblox because of this sound and the memes. Imagine the billions of dollars in marketing that they got from this one sound that spread around the world.
That’s the thing. Like I told Roblox, I said, “Look, if it was just some footstep sound effect and nobody cared, that’s a different thing than a sound that’s literally. …” I mean, they do T-shirts and bedspreads and pillows. It’s become the whole face of the franchise. It’s become a pop culture phrase. I’m asking for a number. They don’t like the number. We aren’t even in the same atmosphere.
By the way, it’s important for me to say this and get this across. I don’t hate Roblox. The community is obviously younger people. They come after me on social media because they feel, “Hey, you’re going to ruin this game. They’re going to have to take out the sound because of you, so I hate you and I want you to die.” I get that. It’s a younger audience. I’m not mad at Roblox or this or that. It’s a business thing. I feel that over the last 15 years, distributing this to hundreds of millions of people, this is worth something. They feel it’s worth something else. Hopefully we can come together and meet somewhere in the middle. If not, then I have no problem taking them to court. Again, we’re 100 times apart. Literally 100 times.
GamesBeat: Maybe they can pay you off in games developed for Intellivision.
Tallarico: I was going to say, maybe we’ll see Roblox coming exclusively to Intellivision. You never know! I’d love to talk to them about that, seriously. Maybe we bring a version of Roblox. Whatever it takes. But I want it to stay friendly. I respect them. Their community is so passionate. As much as some of them don’t like me now, because they think I’m going to take their sound away — which, by the way, I’m not. I’ve never sent a cease and desist. I’ve never sent anything to Roblox saying, “Take that out or else.” Never. All I’m saying is, “Guys, why don’t you buy this sound from me?” Then everything is worked out. I get money. They get this iconic thing that’s become the face of the franchise. All the fans remain happy. Hopefully that’ll work out.
GamesBeat: I hope it’s not a distraction for you.
Tallarico: Not really. I have a team of attorneys, copyright attorneys. They deal with this stuff all the time. It doesn’t take away, really. I’m having a little fun with it, to be honest. I’m doing a YouTube live stream this Saturday at 10 in the morning on my YouTube channel where I invited all the community of Roblox. It’s such an iconic sound. I said, “Hey, there’s a couple of secrets about that sound that no one knows and that I’d like to talk about.”
I didn’t just put a microphone up to somebody and throw them against a wall and they went “Oof!” The amount of things that we did to get that particular sound, and all of the voices of the character Bob in Messiah, it’s a very cool process. It was like a 20-step process. But there’s something cool about the Roblox sound that people don’t know. I’ll reveal that on Saturday.