Q&A: Dave Perry's shiny new gig

Industry vet goes it alone, sets up consultancy to advise entertainment industry on best practices.

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After selling Shiny Entertainment, the development studio he founded in 1993, to Atari for $45 million in 2002, David Perry could have checked out of the game-development grind for good. Instead, he stayed the course, managing a number of subsequent projects, including the wildly popular Enter the Matrix (2003) and last year's The Matrix: Path of Neo.

However, Atari's foundering finances forced it to put the studio up for sale in early 2006. To hasten a sale, Perry stepped down as Shiny president, stating at that time he would return at a later date.

This week, however, he further distanced himself from Shiny, formally announcing GameConsultants.com, initially a one-man consultancy he created that provides "executive Level video game industry advice" and specializes in "how to position strategic projects for the US market."

GameSpot caught up with Dave Perry to see how the company's first weeks have panned out.

GameSpot: Does this mean the ties to Shiny are completely, inexorably cut?

David Perry: Yes, I'm afraid so. Atari has been a fantastic publisher. My contract was up and I simply saw a window to try a new idea for our industry. I held off until I was sure Shiny and my prior staff were going to be OK. Needless to say, if any of my previous staff ever need help in their careers, they all have my personal help, available 24/7. That said, as you saw at E3, Shiny already announced two new games [Earthworm Jim for the PSP and one other platform], so for me, personally, now it's time for GameConsultants.com.

GS: Why go it alone, as opposed to starting another studio?

DP: This is nothing like alone, it's the biggest team I will have ever had! At the rate I'm going I'll have 1,000 consultants by the end of the first month. I'm going to have to immediately hire a team to help me manage my team! If I do start another development studio in the future, all I can say is the pool of talent available to me is quite remarkable.

GS: What's behind your interest in creating the consultancy?

DP: When I left Shiny, I was surprised by how rapidly I was approached by investors who were excited by our business but didn't have the connections to keep their risk under control. So they tended to just keep thinking about it, and never take the plunge.

GS: But you also work with the talent pool, correct?

DP: Yes. Developers, on the other hand, get frustrated as publishers insist on owning their intellectual property (and engines, and source code, and first refusal on their future output), and sometimes even demanding part ownership of the developer, just to borrow development money from them! It's getting insane. So I immediately saw a way to help both groups out.

Once I started down that road, I was immediately reminded of meetings I've had with A+++ Hollywood directors that honestly want to work on video games, but just don't have the next step organized. So when I've left the room, I know nothing will happen for them. Worse still, if something does happen for them (like their agent signs a deal with a publisher), there's nobody to protect them the day after, nobody to make sure they get the A team on their project, nobody to review progress from their point of view... So the point is that many people need access to video game experts. The experts are out there and are actually very willing to help, however usually there's some barrier that stops them getting a call. My company tears down that barrier.

GS: What's the approach you are taking in the area of connecting talent with a project?

DP: We have a favorable twist, and that is we only accept high-end talent, and that talent only works when they're available. They get paid well, and they also will have no conflict as they will never be asked any confidential information about their company, job, or projects. They simply focus on the areas they want to talk about. Needless to say, we keep the consultants 100 percent private, only our clients will ever know who they were assigned, and even then, they are required to sign nondisclosure agreements.

GS: The Web site's been up for about a week. What's the industry response been?

DP: My inbox is already flooded, and every single person (no matter how high I reach--including publisher president level) has agreed to work with me.

GS: Good luck, David.

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