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11/30/2006 - Olympus Entertainment Rides Waves of Change

The business of software modifying data (MOD’s) is changing, according to Skyar Kreisher, executive producer for the Triangle’s Olympus Entertainment. Olympus Entertainment produces the trade marked GMOD -- a program utility that modifies games and facilitates interaction between the gamer and the game they are playing. MOD’s make it possible to customize a game. Formerly MOD’s were freely circulated and could be downloaded from the Internet. Big time game developers encourage companies like Olympus to develop MOD’s for their games because the MOD increases the “shelf life” and, therefore, the profitability of a game. MOD’s are used with PC games like Half Life and Doom 3.

There seems to be a problem. Many MOD’s increase the “maturity” level of the original game so that a “family” rated game might go to “adult” when a MOD is downloaded. This upsets the official rating board (censors) for the game industry. When a game is tagged “adult”, many main retailers will refuse to carry the game, and the innocent original developer -- who may have spent years and millions of dollars in development – will suffer the loss. The result – MOD’s will no longer be freely distributed, but will be produced on contract to game developers and sold, according to Kreisher. Only adults will be allowed to purchase certain types of MOD’s.

Olympus Entertainment is in negotiations with some big-time game developers, including Microsoft, for their next round of GMOD’s. Game developers still want and need MOD’s to keep their games fresh. However, in the business case, it is the MOD developers who have learned the nuts and bolts of MOD distribution. Typically, the original game is distributed in large quantities to retailers, while the MOD goes to a much smaller, more selective, audience. The two are symbiotic and each niche can be lucrative.

The plan for the future is to create many smaller MOD content bits and to sell a lot of product for smaller money, according to Kreisher. Olympus has six experienced MOD developers and distribution channels in place. Olympus will begin development of their next generation of GMOD’s when the game developers decide “where it’s all going.” With the new contracts, Olympus expects to expand its staff of developers.

The new generation of game consoles may aid the MOD developers because they now have hard drives. MOD’s have been developed only for PC games because they must be stored on and loaded from a hard drive. “The new consoles are glorified PC’s,” says Kreisher, “this will make it possible for the MOD market to expand to the console market.”

For more information, visit Olympusgames.com.

Billie Moreland
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