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Wild Bishop: the first Walloon incubator dedicated to video games - Numerik

Wild Bishop: the first Walloon incubator dedicated to video games – Numerik

Wild Bishop will support the development of two projects per year. The objective of this unprecedented structure is to professionalize the video game sector in Wallonia and to create a first blockbuster within five years.

The first game developed by Wild Bishop is already well advanced. Called Judgment, it pits (ferocious) teams fighting in a futuristic arena. For nostalgic gamers, Judgment is reminiscent of Speedball 2, a nervous and brutal game inspired by handball and American football, very popular on Atari and Amiga in the 1990s.

The first game developed by Wild Bishop is already well advanced. Called Judgment, it pits (ferocious) teams fighting in a futuristic arena. For nostalgic gamers, Judgment is reminiscent of Speedball 2, a nervous and brutal game inspired by handball and American football, very popular on Atari and Amiga in the 1990s. Thirty years later, the video game industry has changed a lot. It now generates, worldwide, 180 billion dollars in revenue, according to the specialized firm IDC. In the entertainment sector, video games are in a leading position, far ahead of cinema ($100 billion in 2019). In Wallonia, the gaming environment is still poorly organized. The production studios are modest in size and can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But the founder and CEO of Wild Bishop Didier Mattivi has every intention of changing things. Its ambition is to permanently establish this business in Wallonia. “The objective is to make Wild Bishop a key player in the sector. Within five years, we must be able to create triple A games in Wallonia”, asserts Didier Mattivi. The AAA or triple A is the informal label affixed to the most ambitious video games, the longest to produce, the most expensive… and often the best-selling in the world. These are blockbusters destined to become international blockbusters, such as Zelda, Call of Duty, Mario, The Witcher, GTA… which have sold tens of millions of copies. In Belgium, only one studio is currently capable of producing a game of such magnitude. This is the Ghent Larian, who is developing the third episode of Baldur’s Gate, a very big license. For Didier Mattivi, this is proof that it is possible, and that we must have the ambition to achieve it also in the south of the country. Wild Bishop is an original project. The structure combines several activities: production studio, incubator and specialized investment fund. The Judgment game, which will be the first to come out of the studio, is an own production. The idea is to create a video game in good and due form, but also to use the production process to learn lessons for future projects. It’s sort of a pilot project. A dozen collaborators are working on the game. They may be called upon to participate in future productions. As part of its incubator activity, Wild Bishop intends to support two projects per year, up to a maximum of 400,000 euros per project. The incubator takes place at the level of the initial phase of creating a game. The idea is to end up with a playable demo, which can be presented to publishers. Wild Bishop accompanies the creators for two months in order to develop a prototype. Then, if the concept is validated, it goes into the pre-production phase, for a period of six months. A first project has just been selected, among eight games presented. It passed under the caudine forks of a jury specially composed for the occasion, with representatives of game publishers (Epic, Ankama), schools specializing in video games, Wallimage, etc. Wild Bishop finances project leaders and makes its teams available (developers, game designers, etc.) in the pre-production phase. “The desire is to create a local ecosystem”, underlines Didier Mattivi. The entrepreneur is in contact with the Haute Ecole Albert Jacquard and its renowned video game sector. The objective is to capture talent at source and put it to work here, in Belgium, so that it helps to energize and irrigate the sector. You should know that 80% of video game graduates from the Haute Ecole Namur go abroad (France, Canada) to join big studios. Once the pre-production phase is completed, Wild Bishop will present the game to publishers. If one of them shows interest, the incubator will create a specific vehicle for the project, in which Wild Bishop, the designers and even the publisher will take a stake. Initially, the projects supported will be of a relatively limited scale: “We are talking about video games which cost a total of two to three million euros in production”, explains Didier Mattivi. We are therefore far from “AAA”. But the ambition of the incubator is to gradually ramp up in order to eventually produce more robust games. For its launch, Wild Bishop is funded to the tune of 600,000 euros. Half comes from its founders, the other half is shared equally between the Liège investment Noshaq and Wallimage, the regional audiovisual investment fund. The French studio Ankama has also just entered the capital and holds 8% of the shares in Wild Bishop. The incubator is located in Liège, at the Pôle Image, a gigantic space dedicated to the audiovisual professions, but also digital, gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality. For Didier Mattivi, it’s a change quite spectacular course. Previously, it was active in a niche area: trading floor phones. With his company IP Trade, he developed telephones and software for traders. In 2017, he sold his business to British Telecom. He now wants to put his experience as an entrepreneur at the service of a general public sector, but which, according to him, is lacking in professionalism. “I want to take video games out of the hobby world, explains Didier Mattivi. Too many people still have a romantic vision of this sector. But gaming is indeed an industry. You can have the best idea in the world. , if you can’t sell it, you’ll never be able to break through.” The entrepreneur wants to provide a professional structure to artists in the sector, so that they can flourish and give free rein to their creativity, without forgetting that their activity must also generate income. “You can’t create a profitable video game by working on it at night, after hours of work. You have to be in a real work environment. What we’re going to bring them is a methodology and business advice to seduce publishers on the one hand and the public on social networks on the other. We want to produce profitable games.” According to Didier Mattivi, the momentum is ideal. Discussions are progressing around the tax shelter for video games. If the measure is passed in Parliament, it could attract new investment in the sector, as has been the case for cinema. The Get Up Wallonia plan also mentions video games as a sector with a future. The boss of Wild Bishop is resolutely optimistic: “If we succeed, we will have created a new dynamic, a new Walloon industry”.

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