SINA Interview: Julien Merceron on China Game Outsourcing

BEIJING — (BUSINESS WIRE) — May 13, 2010 — A few days ago, Julien Merceron, global CTO of Square Enix, gave an interview to SINA Game, in which he illustrates topics ranging from game developing to the outsourcing marketing of the industry, together with his personal experience. The following is the detailed dialogue:

1. Since this is your first trip to China to give speeches and to get involved in discussions upon the invitation of CGOC’s organizing committee, what do you personally expect from CGOC 2010, and what topics are you going to share with participants of the conference?

Julien: 2010 is a cornerstone year for many Companies in the Video Game Business, and it is also a key year for China and Shanghai as well, because of the Expo. The Expo is a very international event, so I hope CGOC 2010 can be special in that way as well, more “international” than previous installments. I would like CGOC 2010 to deliver a strong message to the Game Development Community inside and outside Asia. And I expect my talk to be in that vein - I’ll talk about the future of Graphics, and the new type of techniques that Game Developers and Outsourcing companies will certainly want to embrace, which will help us identify more opportunities to all work together. My talk is going to try to highlight how fast techniques change, how dynamic our community is, how much room for innovation there is, and highlight the importance of R&D.

2. The characteristics of the updated video technology are mentioned in the speeches you are going to deliver in CGOC 2010, then, what superb gaming experience will 3D technology and the innovation of next-gen engine bring to players? What does this innovation mean to game outsourcing companies?

Julien: The data representation we use for graphic assets won’t be that optimal in the future, as it tends to require more memory and bandwidth than FLOPS. As we know that the amount of FLOPS available for rendering is going to grow a lot faster than the amount of memory and bandwidth available, that means that we have to look into other approaches, like Subdivision surfaces and displacement maps; this model is a lot more memory and bandwidth friendly. Coming back to your question about 3D, I think that will also have an impact on the way assets are built. Bump Mapping and Parallax Mapping don’t really have real depth influence, so surfaces using these techniques will appear flat when viewed with 3D glasses… unless you do something special about it! And I’ll talk about this as well.

3. We learn from your CV that you have really rich experience in the games industry. Would you like to share with us both the differences and similarities regarding the style of UbiSoft, Eidos and Square Enix?

Julien: All three companies are very different in shape and style, and their strategies are slightly different as well. That said, their respective approaches are very much relevant, as these are just tailored to their respective strategies. That means also that the type of Technology Strategy I work on now is very different from the past two ones, and I find that very interesting! As you might have seen on the internet, I’ve often praised the Final Fantasy franchise in the past, so for me it is amazing to think that maybe the initiatives I’m currently working on will be helping Square Enix to make an even better Final Fantasy in the future!

4. Would you like to give us a brief introduction of SE’s global business ranging from R&D to outsourcing? What is the percentage of outsourcing services from China in SE’s global business? And, what kind of role do they play accordingly?

Julien: Wow, that is a very wide question! Please remember I joined Square Enix recently, so I would probably feel more comfortable answering that question in a year or two from now!

5. Final Fantasy XIII’s traditional Chinese version is going to the Taiwan and Hong Kong market, so, does SE have similar plans of promoting simplified Chinese version for the games it will present? Is there any special plan for SE to develop games for the Chinese players?

Julien: Square Enix has been launching and supporting Games in China in the past. As the Chinese Game Development Community and Chinese Video Games Market are growing extremely fast these days, I think that it means even more opportunities for that in the future!

6. Are you engaged in the R&D of FF XIV or other on-line games? Would you like to introduce some of the innovated techniques applied in this epoch-making game? We learned that the FF XIV team is talking over a marketing plan with relevant authorities in China for its mainland operating of the game, what do you think about this? Do you think that the Chinese players will also become one of the leading forces of SE’s on-line games?

Julien: I agree with the term you are using: epoch-making game. I think that the work that is being done on Final Fantasy XIV is really fantastic. A lot of it is unfortunately very confidential at this stage, that said I think you’ll hear a lot more about this game soon!

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