Helen French talks to Contact Sales’ founder and MD Robert Stallibrass about the firm’s Excalibur Publishing arm, and why you should consider its often-quirky simulation titles.
Can you tell us a brief history of the brand?
Contact Sales was set up in 1997 as a distributor of PC games. In 2004 we launched Excalibur with the aim of publishing role playing games, strategy, adventures and simulations. We had some success, but the flood gates did not open until 2009 when we started to specialise in simulation-only titles. Farming Simulator, Euro Truck, Bus Simulator 2 and UK Truck all gave us chart positions and really put us on the map.
What products are Excalibur’s biggest sellers at the moment?
Undoubtedly Farming Simulator is the product that would be first on most people’s lips. However we should remember that the truck driving series of products has been incredibly successful with top ten chart positions with Euro Truck and UK Truck Simulator doing extremely well on our budget label Extra Play. Extra Play (EP) has also had notable success with Emergency Ambulance Simulator entering the top 20 PC chart within the last few months. We continue to build and expand our EP range.
What are some of the big releases on the horizon?
We are investing considerable money, time and energy in the development of our own IP. We believe Circus World and Zoo Park Simulator, both due in Q4, will have wide appeal and high sales. I believe Euro Truck Simulator 2 from SCS, due for launch in August, will be a top ten title. Camping Simulator due at the end of August may also be a surprise.
You publish a huge variety of simulation games – from Stone Quarry Simulator to European Bus Simulator – how have you done so well in what is quite a niche market?
One has to understand that not every PC owner wants to kill people or drive a car at 200 miles an hour, hence the rise of casual gaming and subsequent rise in interest in the simulation market. Simulations have a massive appeal and that is the market that we appeal to.
Why should PC and games retailers make a point of stocking Excalibur Publishing titles?
Excalibur and Extra Play titles have a very long shelf life, which is so important. Also in the current climate, it is all about profit margin. Our retailers like the fact that when margins are so tight on console titles, they can make an average margin of 25 per cent on our PC titles.
You’re calling for developers to come to you to publish their finished RTS, RPG and adventure games. What can you offer them, and what do they need to do to get their titles published?
Excalibur offers smaller and medium sized developers a good avenue to market. Not only are our boxed titles on the shelves of key retailers in the UK and parts of Europe, but we are also growing our download business rapidly.
We offer developers more focus than if they went to a larger publisher where their product may be lost in amongst this month’s blockbusters.
Excalibur has its own YouTube channel to showcase the latest games – do you find it’s a useful marketing tool?
YouTube has been incredible. In an average month there will be over 100,000 views of our products. Our three-minute infomercials walk a consumer through the product. This allows the consumer to get a good understanding of an Excalibur title before parting with their money.
How do you plan to grow the business going forward?
Continued growth will come from good marketing, quality products and hard work. We have plenty of all three!
How should retailers and other interested parties get in touch?
Retailers can get in touch with us directly, or talk to our distribution partners Gem Distribution and EntaTech.
Want to receive up-to-the-minute tech news straight to your inbox? Then click here to sign up for the completely free PCR Daily Digest and Newsflash email services. You can also follow PCR on Twitter and Facebook.