In practical terms, the team has first-hand access to new builds focused on online multiplayer, that is, the new assets, new features of this version, they will have access first, even before we take them to the events, so that their athletes can , during free time, test KEO whenever possible, without interfering with your training. There is also a direct relationship on social networks, but also the mechanics of the game, from the simple interface, to the rankings scheme or even the 3×3 or 5×5 gameplay.
SAPO TEK:How did Redcatpig come about? Who are you?
Marco Bettencourt:At the end of 2016, my two colleagues, Brian and Joo, always wanted to move on to video game production. But it is a very difficult industry, and they thought (like me) that working part time is very English and complicated. To work full time you need to pay bills and put food on the table. In conversation with them I took on this challenge, to find investment for this project, and other projects that will appear. And everything went well, we had an investment from Business Angel, then others came on board thanks to the Web Summit and its world of entrepreneurship. I always wanted to assume that, before Redcatpig was a video game studio, a startup that needs investment, partners and partners. And maybe it was this profile that we assumed that made us successful in this world.
In 2018 we were considered one of the 50 most meditative startups in Portugal, we were in 47. In 2019 we increased this ranking to 22, according to Cision. Imagine that a startup of three people, now four, in the Azores, and making video games was in a ranking where Unbabel and Farfetch are, which are startups that handle millions and millions of euros, something surreal and proves that it is possible, and with an almost zero budget for marketing. I think this is due to our stance that, yes, games are cool, we are playing here, but the image has to be serious, and at the end of the day we are a startup, before we are a video game studio. This attitude has been favorable.
Regarding the name, yes strange, but it has become a big break of ice, because everyone is curious about Redcatpig. I walk down the street in a coat, with the name of the stadium, and people search Google for the meaning and end up congratulating me on the website, or that the name is strange but cool. I was resistant, the name was from the other elements of the stadium, because I come from digital marketing, and the name didn't make any sense to me, but it worked.
For our first project, KEO, we made a first investment round that went well, we raised the necessary money for that time and we moved forward 200 hours into the project, and we are already preparing a second round, already with the interest of investors and with contacts that we have maintained since the 2019 Web Summit, our second participation.
SAPO TEK:And what was the importance of the Web Summit for the stadium?
Marco Bettencourt:When I told some people that we loved our first Web Summit in 2018, the immediate feedback was calling us crazy, and what we love to do there, because no one was going to play our game, since there were no gamers coming to the event. But my strategy has always been clear, and it was not going to meet gamers, because there are dedicated events for that. I went there to meet potential partners, B2B, or simple investors.
Our visit in 2019 was to consolidate the product and show the differences from last year. And the funny thing that we went with the investors that we had raised earlier, they wanted to wear the shirt. And we had a pleasant surprise, because we started to be contacted, through the application of the Web Summit, by investors who wanted to schedule meetings with us, because they wanted to know more about the project. During the three days of the event, we had 12 meetings, most of which were possible investors. And after this time, we are still in talks with at least five.
But what makes me sad, that in several of these meetings, these potential investors asked me where were other gaming startups. And there was not, apart from AR / VR solutions, there was no one, we were the only ones, and I didn't know how to answer. Despite thinking that if there were more national stadiums betting on the event, the industry would move forward, on the other hand, I capitalize on the investment potential.
SAPO TEK:There is some feeling in the national stadium community about the lack of investment by companies. Feel that?
Marco Bettencourt:I hate a little bit of this dialogue of some producers, that there is no money, there is no this or that, they are looking for some European financing, but these are not easy to raise. There is a lot of the mentality that if you are not a publisher there is no money. I disagree with that mentality. Yes, a publisher can give money, and the more the better, depending on the conditions, of course. But in my experience, investors, many of them international, are taking a good look at the manpower and talent we have inside. Because we are already reputed to do a lot, with little, and there is nothing better for investors. And I noticed this at the meetings I had during the Web Summit. There are companies in Israel that want to invest in console and PC gaming.
SAPO TEK:It has maintained a concern to push for the industry and to serve as an example and inspiration for other stadiums. Will we see more producers next year at the Web Summit?
Marco Bettencourt:Sometimes I get the impression that they think I have a commission at the Web Summit, because I'm always talking about it, or even about the Regional Government of the Azores, because I'm always talking about the Azores. But really, I want the guys to evolve, to get the best possible conditions. We are in the Azores, far away, but we are part of a brutal, extremely favorable ecosystem for startups to move. This, combined with our attempt to make the most of our visits to the continent, works very well. We have a very good technological park, our house is tidy. Sometimes counseling and mentoring, social media, working conditions are worth more than a check. And we have it all. But we are just taking the first steps, which luckily seem to be the right ones. But Portugal needs an industry and we will not be us, or the KEO that will do that. Far from it. I need the whole crowd.
SAPO TEK:And what expectations do you foresee for KEO, in terms of projection?
Making KEO's business plan was the hardest thing I've been involved with in the last few years, and I had the help of a friend who has a lot of knowledge in this area. And that forces projections, when it will sell in 2020 or 2021, and in gaming this is very difficult, because you can have a Fortnite that explodes overnight, as there could be any flop, that everything indicated it would sell well . There are people who like to evaluate red flags, I like to evaluate green flags, and we have several positive indicators regarding our product, from people in the industry who have more than 10 years of know-how. There are even numbers that have already been calculated by publishers who are interested in working with us, and based on their experience and what they saw at KEO, they have already designed them, of course.
SAPO TEK:Do you mean that there are already international publishers with proposals on the table?
Marco Bettencourt:Fortunately, yes. We are on track to finalize some negotiations that are also on the table, to try to achieve the best possible scenario for KEO. Of course, some of these publishers do not have the most suitable profile to launch the game, others do, some want to invest more, others less, so we want to analyze the best proposals well. I don't want to give names any more.
SAPO TEK:And what was the importance of the PlayStation awards, now that you have just passed the testimony to the new stadium that won this year's edition?
Marco Bettencourt:I never imagined that the stadium could win this award, and that after a year it would be there to deliver to the new winner. Everything feels like a dream. Sometimes more important than investors and PlayStation, publishers and the ecosystem in which we operate, the support we have at home. Taking the stage to receive the award was the validation of the effort, not only as a stadium, but because of the efforts of our families who also invest, not with a check, but in us and because they believe in us.
Regarding the PlayStation award itself, it is very valid, especially for those not in the gaming industry, to see a Talent label. I spoke with some international investors, and of course, we used the prizes and nominations to highlight the game. And investors feel more confident in the project, because PlayStation has already validated it, and they are more confident. In terms of mentoring, PlayStation provides a great support in events, the doors that open us to excellent events, especially for us who are here in the Azores. Thanks to this help, we have already registered around 1,200 people who have already played the game in the events.
Although the main work of PlayStation has not yet begun. This work begins when we start making the PS4 adaptation and launching the launch campaign on the street. We are making efforts to launch the game at the end of the year, or at least to finalize it, the launch will be discussed later.
SAPO TEK:And with that prediction, aren't you afraid that KEO will be overshadowed by the launch of PlayStation 5? Considering that there are no plans to launch the game on the new console
Marco Bettencourt:We already talked about it, even with PlayStation, and we need to look at the numbers. PS4 sold about 110 million units and these consoles will not be thrown in the trash after the PS5 is released overnight, so there is all this potential for sale. In addition, PS5 will be backwards compatible with PS4 games is an interesting factor. Of course, the new seductive console, has several improvements, but on an exclusive release for PS5 a neem, but guaranteed is the simultaneous release of PC and PS4 on the same day.
SAPO TEK:And will there be cross-play between PC and PS4?
Marco Bettencourt:I still can't guarantee if the game will be cross-play compatible between the two platforms. In fact, the game needs community, and that was one of the factors that allowed PlayStation to let us launch the game on PC and PS4 on the same day. And nothing better than the PC to pull through the community. There is a synergy, as they are the two largest platforms. There is a lot of feedback from the players that we have analyzed and inserted into the game, and are already available in current versions.
SAPO TEK:And micro-transactions?
Marco Bettencourt:Micro-transactions are a certainty, but everything is cosmetic, no pay to win items. We want to create cross-branding opportunities with influencers, such as DJs, as well as Fortnite that launched Marshmallow singles. We don't want to invent gunpowder, but we want to make a slightly different firework, because there is already a lot done well, and we want to learn.