MCV spoke to IGN UK Managing Director Ian Chambers recently, and asked about the site's rapid regional expansion.
Tell us a little bit about the thought behind IGN's current territorial expansion.
A year ago we had three sites: the UK, Australia and the US. In the last twelve months we’ve grown to have 8 languages and be in 40 something countries.
We’ve grown a lot in Europe - Germany, Sweden, various others and we’re live in Arabic. It’s really cool seeing IGN in Arabic. We’re also live in Malay and Mandarin (that launched a few months ago).
This expansion will continue. We’ll continue to open up sites in regions where we have a strong brand and we know there’s an audience.
It’s early days of course, but we now have a presence in all these countries where we're launching.
And what are some of the benefits of growing the site in this way?
One of the big things for us is the ability to work with publishers on a global level. It’s no longer the case that we’ve got the UK and ‘rest of Europe’ because so many European people are connecting to IGN directly anyway, engaging in their own language. So now we’re able to start really looking at genuinely global opportunities.
Our thinking is that games are global, so games media should be global.
So there are plans to keep on opening further localised IGN sites in other territories?
In the next year, we’ll do the same again and bring in about another 8 languages, so we’ll have it at 15 languages in the next twelve months.
And where are all these sites currently at? How integrated have they become?
With any new startup, there’s a period over which they’re going to do stuff locally to build their audience.
When we started off in Australia, we did the same thing and began by working to increase the local audience. In the German market, for example, we will be much more focused on titles like Settlers and just PC gaming in general. Down the track, you’ll see that a Settlers review will be translated to English and appear in Australia. It just makes sense that with a title like that, a guy in Germany is the one to review it, while in Asia the same may be true of MMOs.
How big are these new operations?
We’re doing it through licensees – we haven’t set up offices in every region. What we’re doing is working with partners in every region who we know understand games media, because the most important thing to us is our brand.
We work with some print publishers who are moving to online, working with some online publishers who want a bigger brand.
It’s not a fire and forget thing.
Do all the teams work alongside one another, or are do they operate autonomously?
They’re very much part of the team. All the teams work together, they discuss editorial ideas, sales, everything. But they’re each teams who specialise in their local market as well.
I just feel it’s going to be much more successful to have people who know their market who are doing this already. The potential for us this way is far more exciting than us trying to set up new offices in all these regions.
Instead, we find the best people who are already operating in these regions and go and work with them. The feedback has been fantastic, both from the people who’ve taken up the task of doing it and the markets themselves.
It’s great to see publishers knowing that they can now get their product managers to speak directly to the IGN editorial and sales team and talk about things which are relevant to them.
How are you looking to measure the success of the new sites? Keeping track of them all is a big task.
The best judge is the community. The audience is always the best judge.
They’re the ones who’ll tell us if something’s going the wrong way. Hopefully those loyal readers who’ve been visiting the site for a long time will also tune in to these new localised sites because they’ll realise there’s an extra layer of depth for them to enjoy, whether it be events, content or anything else.
Thank you for your time.