The past few years have been extremely tough as the economy took a nose dive worldwide and it was felt by almost everyone, even the uber-successful gaming community. Companies like Sony and Microsoft have had to do massive layoffs while other companies, like Irrational Games, have shut their doors for good. During this tumultuous time, Iceberg Interactive, the little publisher that could, has thrived. In a recent interview we got to talk to Iceberg’s CEO, Erik Schreuder, about their success and he assured us, it hasn’t been easy.
Iceberg Interactive was founded just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2009, but its history goes back much further than that. Schreuder has been in the business of making games since 1999 where he’s worked in places like Project Two and Project Three, European companies responsible for games such as Schizm and New World Order. It was during this time that Erik met Raymond Snippe, who would stick with Schreuder from here on out and become a future piece in the Iceberg puzzle.
Around 2005, Schreuder left Project Three to found Lighthouse Interactive, which would earn fame for producing such games as Ship Simulator and Sword of the Stars. It was there that Schreuder met Howard Newark, a sales manager who would been working in the field since the heady days of Atari. When Lighthouse was eventually sold in 2008, Schreuder brought most of the Lighthouse team with him when he founded Iceberg Interactive. Schreuder, Snippe and Newark have come together to put forward a solid company that has been able to make a name for itself with its niche genre hits and thrive doing so!
With games like Starpoint Gemini (and its upcoming sequel), Endless Space, Ship Simulator (2008) and the upcoming Endless Legend making waves, Schreuder credits the game developers for making great games and a tried and true business model for getting them out there.
“We don’t bet the farm on risky titles,” Schreuder says, “If we don’t think it’s a potential hit title, we won’t release it. As a business, we have opted to stay lean and mean, with no crazy expansion plans, just steady organic growth.“
He also credits the rise of digital sales and close ties with companies like Steam that have allowed their games to reach a much wider audience than they could have before. But if one thing sets Iceberg apart from other publishers, it’s their close knit crew and their personal love of games. Schreuder and company don’t just publish games strictly for business; they do it because they genuinely love games. He’s the first to admit that they couldn’t do what developers do when making a game, but publishing a game that they genuinely love has been a driving force behind their success.
“I feel not every publisher is run by guys who went into this business for the love of games. I mean we can’t program a single line, we publish games, but it‘s a hell of a lot more fun than most jobs! Any time you can make your hobby your vocation, you must go for it. So, ‘by gamers, for gamers’, could be our motto.”
So, what’s the future look like for Iceberg Interactive? While they’re looking to grow, they’re hoping to avoid growing too fast and banking on one or two games that could cause them to implode like the aforementioned Irrational. Schreuder is looking to continue breakout franchises like Starpoint Gemini while looking for big hits in the niche markets they have been so successful in. 4X games (a personal favorite), strategy, action and simulation are still at the forefront of Iceberg’s development as they move forward. Even now they’re looking to release an iOS game and they’re looking to expand into digital console publishing as well. But have no fear, PC gamers, Iceberg’s PC roots will never be abandoned, even as they continue to grow into other mediums.
All indications are that Iceberg Interactive has weathered the economic storm and come out ahead in the past few years. With the many decades of games publishing under their collective belts, the future is looking sunny for the Netherlands based company and the many fans they have made with their hand-picked hits. Check out our early access look at Endless Legend right here, Icebergs newest game and certainly one to keep your eye on.