Peter Tamte has had an inexplicably high profile in the Mac game community, considering his company hasn’t yet shipped a product or even publicly named itself. But his position as founder of MacSoft and executive stints at both Apple and Bungie Software have kept him forefront in the minds of many Mac game enthusiasts and the Mac game press.
Tamte says his philosophy is to do things one of two ways — either to say nothing and work hard, or to be loud and promote his products forcefully. He’s clearly adopted the former strategy for the moment, but he’s still happy to talk about his company’s progress in recent months.
Tamte has set up shop in Minneapolis, Minn., his hometown, where he employs eleven people who are working on some as-yet unrevealed projects. When news about his new game company first came to light almost a year ago, Tamte announced that his new company would develop Macintosh game conversions, as well as original content. In addition to the Mac, Tamte’s company will be producing titles for the PC and next generation game consoles.
Although Tamte didn’t use our meeting as a forum to promote his new company’s name or publishing strategy, he did say that more details would be put forth within the next month or so. At last the corporate identity of Tamte’s stealth game developer/publisher will be unveiled, and a schedule of product releases will also be offered. Tamte also said that work is proceeding on the first two Macintosh game conversions to be released by the company: Age of Empires II, and Links LS 2002.
Don’t expect to see Tamte’s company exhibiting at Macworld Expo this July, however. As the new kid on the block, Tamte’s company has to carefully manage its budget for the time being. When the time is right, though, he fully plans to get the word out by any means necessary to let Mac gamers know.
Our conversation turned to Apple’s new retail strategy, which he enthusiastically supports. “This is the most significant announcement Apple has made since it first unveiled Mac OS X,” said Tamte.
He explained that one problem facing Mac game publishers — something that, in Tamte’s opinion, has hurt the growth of the industry — is the issue of distribution. He has seen both sides of this issue. Prior to his work at MacSoft, Tamte managed a chain of computer retailers, so he knows the retail market inside and out.
Tamte acknowledges a complaint reiterated by Mac game enthusiasts: Mac games rarely find significant shelf space in retail outlets and superstores. Often when they do, it comes at great expense to the publishers themselves. Tamte hopes that Apple Stores will give Mac game publishers like his company a more accessible and high profile venue to get the word out about their products.
Although current economic conditions have taken their toll on the games industry as a whole, Tamte is very optimistic about his own company’s chances for success. “We’re only seeing the beginning of something that’s going to be huge,” he said.
The continued deployment of high-speed Internet access is key to the continued growth of computer games, he said. Such connections provide a more enjoyable experience to online gamers by delivering a faster online game experience. High speed Internet access also has the potential to support alternative economic models for game companies, such as direct sales through e-commerce and electronic distribution for games. This point isn’t missed by the leading console makers and game publishers, many of whom are supporting new efforts to lead the games business in that direction.
All in all, it seems like 2001 is shaping up to be an interesting year for Tamte and company — it’s the dawn of a new era not only in Mac retailing but also in game publishing as a whole. They’ve got their work cut out for them.