Founder of Massive Entertainment, Ubisoft
Martin has over 20 years of experience in developing, designing, and investing in games. He is the Founder of Massive Entertainment, one of the world’s largest game studios now owned by Ubisoft, which he started in 1997. Vivendi purchased Massive in 2002 and Martin was a Director at the group involved in setting the strategy for the gaming division. Martin now runs Nordisk Games where he invests in game developers and studios globally. Read more
Martin, can you please provide an introduction to your background in gaming and what you are up to today?
My name is Martin Walfisz and my background in gaming really starts in the 80s, where I started to game and play on the Commodore 64. That really turned me onto computers and, I have to say, I really have a computer geek background. I may be less of a geek now but still, I identify as a computer geek. In the 90s, I studied software engineering at university and then, in 1997, I founded Massive Entertainment, which is one of the world’s largest game studios today.
mCurrently, I work at Nordisk Games, as an investor. I am a senior partner, investing in game studios and game developers, primarily, in Europe. Before I became an investor, I was a game developer for a good 23 years and I really have a background as a computer geek and a programmer. I love games and I play as many games as I can.
Can you provide some context to the gaming development landscape in the early 2000s, or even late 90s, when you started Massive?
We started Massive in Sweden and, back then, in the late 90s, there were not many game studios, at all, in Sweden. Maybe there were two or three. DICE already existed and then there was another studio called UDS, that doesn’t exist anymore. Then we founded Massive. Sweden was really a backwater for computer games, back in those days. Where it really happened was in the US and the UK and, to some extent, Germany and France. None of the people who started working at Massive, in those early years, had any experience doing games, including me, of course. Actually, to be honest, most of the people that started working at Massive didn’t even have experience working. We were mostly students or other people who had never really had a job before.
Were you producing mainly for PC or also for console?
We started on PC, just because it was so much easier. Everyone could buy a PC. We focused on PC games for the first seven, eight, 10 years of the company. Then eventually, the company moved more into console. I have to say, I stayed on board for about 12 years, so I focused mostly on PC. When I left, the company moved more to console.
How would you look at the major structural changes in the industry, over the last 20 years, for PC specifically?
PC has always been there and in the industry, we used to say that it was quite cyclical. When the new consoles came out, PC was a bit less interesting. Then when the current console generation started to feel old, PCs came back. I think that has shifted a bit in the last 10 years. The PC is its own living organism, regardless of the console cycles. It’s a bit like mobile games and mobile devices; it’s just there and quite ubiquitous. Also, as Asia has become more and more prominent in the gaming industry, PC has also picked up, because outside of Japan, consoles were never very popular in Asia.
How about the distribution strategy changes? Today you have Steam and Epic.
Yes, that is a huge shift. Digital distribution has really changed everything. It’s so much easier for developers to self-publish and have immediate access through their consumers, through the players, by using Steam and the other distribution channels.
Massive Entertainment: Game Development, Design & Monetization
October 5, 2020