Jan 2021 Intervew with Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games, Iceland
Prisma Reports (PR): Iceland has become the perfect home for a vibrant creative industries ecosystem. What are the key ingredients that make your country such a great place for tech-driven start-ups?
Hilmar Veigar Pétursson (HP): One of the keys is having a very high education level, while there is maybe some uniqueness that comes from being a tiny country in the middle of nowhere. That makes for a different type of originality because you are consuming a different atmosphere when you live in a tiny place in the middle of the Atlantic than if you live in a big city in Europe. It’s just different, not necessarily better, but it’s different. You see it a lot in Icelandic products; people find them unique, whether it is a song by Björk, EVE Online, or a Netflix show taking place in Iceland, it’s different.
Also, CCP Games had a lot of unusual people working for it. You would not necessarily find them in computer game firms at the time. We had economists, physicists, fashion designers, all sorts of people making EVE Online. As a consequence, it has this kind of multi-faceted cultural aspect.
PR: Please describe the creative development process that a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) like EVE Online undergoes to become so popular?
HP: There are a few ingredients. Firstly, you need to build a world that people are interested in. We spent a lot of time creating the world in which EVE Online is set. A lot of the Icelandic sagas, stories, and traditions are a huge component. Iceland is well known for having a high degree of literacy. The Icelandic sagas are amazing literary feats made thousands of years ago.
Secondly, you have to come up with a game design: what kind of game takes place inside this world? In our case, when we are making a huge intergalactic space game, it’s very natural that you are flying around in a small spaceship and you want to have a bigger spaceship and a bigger impact on the world. The game flows from that.
Thirdly, you need a distinct visual style. Your game has to stand out from other games. Our look is really distinct and often ahead of its time. EVE Online looks very artistic compared to other space games. Finally, you need a lot of technology. There is a big technology mountain that you have to climb to be able to get everything to work – having enough servers, having everyone connected and seeing the same thing at the same time, the ability to talk to each other and fight and trade. There is a huge technology component, which is usually the most difficult one.
PR: What is your vision for the future development of Virtual Reality (VR) in the industry?
HP: We put quite a bit of investment into virtual reality from 2013 to 2017 and released four games which are still doing well. We shifted our focus more to PC and mobile as the VR market is still maturing. Our R&D team is mainly focused on PC and mobile. They’ve been doing a lot of research into backend technologies.