- Ascolta “The Crystal Habit Podcast: Episode 13“
25 Agosto 2012
Meagan Marie – Community Manager
Q&A session – Domande dai fan
Lars Winkler – Direttore Marketing Eidos, sezione tedesca
[ La trascrizione italiana di questo podcast non è attualmente disponibile. Contiamo d’inserirla prossimamente. Scusandoci per l’attesa, postiamo nel frattempo la trascrizione inglese. Qualora vogliate offrire la vostra collaborazione, vi preghiamo di contattarci via mail; il vostro supporto sarà molto apprezzato.]
MEAGAN MARIE: Hello everyone, Meagan Marie here, and this is episode 13 of the Crystal Habit podcast. So it’s going to be a little bit noisy, because the booth is coming down around me. Once again, I am recording from the show floor, showing off Tomb Raider. This time, we are at GamesCom in Germany, and we’re three days in. They’re closing down the business center because the rest of the event is just for consumers. It’s been an awesome show, and it’s afforded me the opportunity to actually talk to some German community members about the game and. I guess I put myself in Karl’s position and tried to answer some Take Fives and have a new appreciation for being asked a difficult question. After that, I had a chance to chat with Lars Winkler, he’s the head honcho over at Square Enix Germany and an all-around cool guy. He’s been a part of Eidos for a very long time before we were picked up by Square Enix. He’s got some interesting stories and memories from his time working on various franchises. So I hope you enjoy it.
MEAGAN MARIE: We have a couple of community members here. Do you guys want to introduce yourselves?
BOMB FIGHTER: Alright. Hi, I’m Bomb Fighter from the Tomb Raider Forums. And my friend.
ABBY: Hi, I’m Abby.
MEAGAN MARIE: It was really awesome for you guys to come out here. Where did you come from? How far was the journey?
Fan 1: From Slovakia.
MEAGAN MARIE: And guess what? He brought me chocolates. They’re chocolates, right?
BOMB FIGHTER: They’re not chocolates, no. You’ll have to find out.
MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to find out. They look amazing. I super appreciate that. So, what did you guys think of the demo? Do you have any questions for me? What do you want to chat about?
BOMB FIGHTER: It was amazing.
MEAGAN MARIE: Was it cool seeing on this massive screen, in the theater?
BOMB FIGHTER: Yes!
MEAGAN MARIE: I’ll post photos so all of you guys listening can see it.
BOMB FIGHTER: I want to bring it home.
MEAGAN MARIE: I know, I would play on that all the time. So what kind of questions did you have for me?
BOMB FIGHTER: Well, the first one is about Lara’s necklace.
MEAGAN MARIE: Yes.
BOMB FIGHTER: Why does she have it in the game, but not in the renders?
MEAGAN MARIE: There’s a special meaning behind the necklace. It’s something that you’ll find out at some point. When we did the initial trailer, we hadn’t quite decided when it was going to be on yet. So I know that there’s a little discrepancy. People are trying to work out when she gets it, and there’s a little bit of a discrepancy in the resources. It’ll make sense in the final game, but I know it’s missing from some of the renders. And is it in.? Yeah, it’s in Crossroads, because it’s all gameplay. It’ll make sense in the game! It just doesn’t quite make sense in the context of the renders at the moment.
BOMB FIGHTER: Maybe a stupid question, but. Are there going to be spiders in the game? Because I hated that in Underworld.
MEAGAN MARIE: [big laughs] You hated that?
BOMB FIGHTER: Yes.
ABBY: He’s so afraid of the spiders. I had to play all the levels where the spiders were.
MEAGAN MARIE: But all the Tomb Raider games have had spiders!
BOMB FIGHTER: No.
MEAGAN MARIE: Haven’t they?
BOMB FIGHTER: Well, Tomb Raider II.
MEAGAN MARIE: The ones in Tomb Raider II. Oh, yeah, in the Wall of China level. Those ones creep me out. The little noise that they made? That always creeped me out.
ABBY: Are there spiders in Legend?
BOMB FIGHTER: No, only in Tomb Raider II and Underworld.
MEAGAN MARIE: This is the only way I can answer this. I have seen a spider, personally, and I can leave it at that. I’m not entirely sure if it made it into the final game. I saw that early on. So I can’t answer that for sure. I have seen a spider at one point. Just like those little crabs, they’re spider-like. Well, not really.
BOMB FIGHTER: Well, the small spiders, they were okay. But the huge ones.
MEAGAN MARIE: Those ones were terrifying. And they had them in Guardian of Light, also.
BOMB FIGHTER: Well, those weren’t as much of a problem, because they could be well away from the screen, and they weren’t that big.
MEAGAN MARIE: Do you yell when you see spiders in real life? Do you make somebody else kill them.?
BOMB FIGHTER: I don’t yell, but somebody else has to kill them.
MEAGAN MARIE: I sick my cats on them. “Look, that little thing, get it for me!”
BOMB FIGHTER: Question number three. Is Lara’s mother’s name still de Mornay?
MEAGAN MARIE: I saw that one on the forums. We’re not. Just a blanket statement, we’re not going into her parents right now. You hear her say stuff like, “That’s something my father would say”. We just don’t want to reveal any of that. That’s stuff that, if we go into it, you’ll find it out through the story. Because I know that, obviously, her parents have been at the center of the movies and the center of all of those things, and it’s very much something we want you to experience and find out for yourself.
BOMB FIGHTER: So we’re going to learn about Lara’s past as well in the game.?
MEAGAN MARIE: You will learn about her past to some degree. I’m not going to go into how much. You can already kind of pick up from some of her conversations.
BOMB FIGHTER: Yeah, I heard her mention her father.
MEAGAN MARIE: She mentions her father. She talks about. Roth uses examples of things that they’ve done in her past. I love the little dialogue with Sam, when she’s warning her about something. I love that dialogue. You pick up stuff about Lara and her experiences through that.
BOMB FIGHTER: Another one. Is there going to be hand-to-hand combat? I saw some skills of that kind, I think.
MEAGAN MARIE: Well, you saw that. [laughs]
BOMB FIGHTER: Just a confirmation.
MEAGAN MARIE: Aw, man. These are really hard. [big laugh] Now I know how Karl feels. The thing is, Karl has a better grasp of what he can say, and if he overextends himself, he doesn’t get in trouble anyway because he’s the boss. I’m not going to confirm hand-to-hand, like punching or anything like that. But you have seen that, like, if there’s a guy near the edge, Lara can run up and push him off the ledge. She’s very capable in many ways.
BOMB FIGHTER: I noticed the collectibles in the game. Like the historical statues, and the comments. Are these going to reveal any of the mysteries of the island, through those comments?
MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, that was definitely something that we were okay with you guys finding. So. There are journals around the island at times, and they’ll help reveal a bit more about the other people who’ve been on the island before. The great thing about is that. You’ve seen the shipwrecks. There are people from all ages and countries. It’s just had a very diverse history.
BOMB FIGHTER: The collector’s edition. There’s going to be one, you already said that. At what time are you going to announce what’s in it?
MEAGAN MARIE: I don’t know. It’s a transient thing, and I’m not allowed to use the word “soon.”
BOMB FIGHTER: It’s going to be this year.
MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, I would expect so. We’re still trying to figure out the exact window. And there’s just so much involved in it. There’s restrictions in some countries on the things you can put in the collector’s edition. Some things make it harder to do digital content in some countries. It’s really hard to finalize them. But that’s something we’re working on right now.
BOMB FIGHTER: We’ve never had a real collector’s edition in Slovakia.
MEAGAN MARIE: Do you have to import them?
BOMB FIGHTER: Yeah. I had the premium collection of Legend. That was from Austria. [uncertain – 7:20] got one, but that was just the bonus disc. The special one from Austria was really cool. But far away.
MEAGAN MARIE: Hopefully we’ll have details for you in.an expedient amount of time. That is not “soon.”
BOMB FIGHTER: Alright, that’s all for now.
MEAGAN MARIE: Dun dun dun. That’s all for now! Alright, I’m going to sign off for a minute. I’m going to go find someone else to chat with.
Segment 2: GamesCom Fan Q&A 2
MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, Luca, do you want to introduce yourself?
LUCA R÷HRL: Thank you, Meagan. I’m Luca, from Germany, and I’m the webmaster of the website Tombraiderinsider.de.
MEAGAN MARIE: What did you think of the evening?
LUCA R÷HRL: I liked the show. Karl had talked about much more than on the ship, I think. And we got a chance for hands-on with the demo. It’s really great to see how the game feels and plays. It’s totally different from looking at a screen with somebody else playing, when you just watch it. It’s a different feeling getting to play it yourself.
MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, getting hands-on for the first time is totally different. What did you think of the hands-on experience? Did you throw Lara off some ledges?
LUCA R÷HRL: Yeah, sometimes. It’s different because I’m always playing it on the PC, and now playing it with a controller is very different.
MEAGAN MARIE: I actually had a nightmare the other day, that they were going to make me demo it on a PC. [laughter] I wouldn’t even know what to do. I’m such a bad PC player. I mean, I know I can get by and move around, but.
LUCA R÷HRL: Yeah, I’m the total opposite.
MEAGAN MARIE: I like controllers. I’m definitely a console gamer. Did you have any questions for me, sir?
LUCA R÷HRL: Yeah. We had a demo on the community day last year, at GamesCom in 2011, and then at E3 there was a demo. My question is, will people at home get a chance to play a demo as well at some time?
MEAGAN MARIE: I get that question quite frequently, and unfortunately, we just don’t have an answer yet. I mean, it’s something we’re still looking into. There’s timing and all the work that goes into it. We’re just not entirely sure yet. It’s something that I will follow up on with Karl. But I don’t have an answer. I’m sorry. If we do, you will find out. I will be shouting it from the rooftops. It’ll be on Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook. We’ll make sure everyone knows.
LUCA R÷HRL: Yeah, I’m sure. My other question was, I heard you planned to release a special edition for big fans. Will it be available for pre-order from the first day, or just later, or.?
MEAGAN MARIE: Those details are going to be. “Soon”. Those details will be coming in the near future. We’re actually still in the process of finishing up the final details on the limited editions and all that kind of stuff. One of the questions I was answering earlier was very similar. It takes a lot of time to tailor them to each country, meeting different restrictions and all that. We’re getting there. That’s one of our highest priorities right now. We will have information, like I said.at a point in time in the near future, and then I’ll share it with everyone. That’s another one that you’re not going to miss. I’m going to be so excited to share it. Because I’m a nut for the limited editions and special editions. I love them, I get them for all my favorite games. I have Batarangs and life-sized statues. Well, not life-sized. But statues and stuff. I love collector’s editions. So, more details coming.
LUCA R÷HRL: That’s it.
MEAGAN MARIE: Alright.
Segment 3: GamesCom Fan Q&A 3
MEAGAN MARIE: These two don’t have any questions for me, but I just wanted to get them on the podcast, because they’re awesome. So will you guys introduce yourselves, and say what website you’re from?
Janina: Yeah. I’m Janina from Lara’s Generation, a German fansite. But people also may know me as Minerva.
MARTIN: I’m MARTIN from Lara’s Generation too.
MEAGAN MARIE: You guys recently came out to E3, which was an awesome experience, I think.
JANINA: Yeah, absolutely.
MEAGAN MARIE: And I learned a very funny story over dinner with you guys. So! How did you two meet?
MARTIN: Well. Okay. [Awkward laughter all round] That’s a story which I think is quite romantic. My wife was quite angry when I told her the truth. We met when we both lived in Marburg, in Hessen, which is the middle of Germany, and we were both studying archaeology. I saw my now-wife in a seminar at the university, and at the moment I saw her, I knew I wanted to get to know her somehow. So when I got back home, I googled her. [laughter] And I found her Tomb Raider website. Just by coincidence, I had bought one of the Tomb Raider games a few weeks before, but I hadn’t played it, actually.
MEAGAN MARIE: So you found your motivation to play.
MARTIN: Yes, I did. [laughs] And I used the forum on the website to contact her, and I pretended that I had some problems playing Tomb Raider and needed help with that.
MEAGAN MARIE: I love it.
MARTIN: I used that to chat her up, and then I pretended. “Oh, you study archaeology too? Well, what a coincidence. And you live in Marburg too? Well, we should probably meet up some time.”
MEAGAN MARIE: “Are you that person on the other side of the hall that I can see during class?” So had you guys never run into each other before that?
MARTIN: No, we only had that seminar together. But I never chatted her up there. I used the website to get to know her, and.yeah. I have to admit, it worked.
MEAGAN MARIE: Yeah, obviously. How long have you guys been married now?
JANINA: One year.
MARTIN: Yes, we’ve just had our first wedding anniversary last Monday.
MEAGAN MARIE: That’s wonderful. So I have to ask, obviously. If you didn’t, it’s no big deal, but did you have anything Tomb Raider-related in your wedding because of how you met?
JANINA: Ah. In the wedding? No. I guess not. Or, yeah! My mother had a kind of photo show with memories from our childhood and so on. There was actually a picture for Lara Croft in there.
MEAGAN MARIE: Awesome. Just a little Lara presence at the wedding. That’s great. So! You had been running the fansite, and you had just played Tomb Raider. How long ago was this, and how many Tomb Raiders has she made you play since? Have you caught up?
MARTIN: Yes, I did. I think I have to admit one other thing, though. I haven’t played all of the Tomb Raider games yet.
MEAGAN MARIE: Well, you have something to look forward to.
MARTIN: That’s true. When we got together, that was seven years ago. We spent some nights playing Tomb Raider together.
JANINA: Yeah, I forced him to play.
MEAGAN MARIE: Was he any good? Did he get the puzzles?
JANINA: : Yeah, we played Tomb Raider III.
MARTIN: I think I wasn’t too bad. Otherwise she wouldn’t have married me, probably.
MEAGAN MARIE: She’d have gotten angry. “It’s so obvious! This puzzle is so simple!” Okay. Well, this may be one of my favorite Tomb Raider stories in existence. Were you legitimately mad at him? I guess I might have been slightly mad for a while.
MARTIN: Well. She thought it was all fate. [big laughs]
MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, okay, I can see that.
MARTIN: And when I told her she got so angry and called me a stalker.
MEAGAN MARIE: Okay. It’s still adorable. I think that’s great, and it’s awesome to see you guys at events all the time. What did you think of the evening? I know you obviously saw the game at E3, because Lara’s Generation is.how old? 12 years?
JANINA: Well.just a moment.
MEAGAN MARIE: Calculating. Counting the years back. There’s so many.
JANINA: Yeah, 12 years.
MEAGAN MARIE: They were invited out because they’re one of the longest-running fansites in Germany, which is awesome. So you saw the demo at E3, and then you saw it again on the Captain Sandiego, the ship. Or were you there?
JANINA: No, unfortunately not.
MEAGAN MARIE: So then maybe this is awesome. I was talking to Luca, who was on the ship, and he was like, “Well, this isn’t a ship.” So it’s maybe not as impressive. But I think this is still a fun event.
MARTIN: Yes, it definitely is.
MEAGAN MARIE: I think anybody listening to this podcast is going to call me crazy, because I’m so jet-lagged. I’m making stupid jokes and going off on tangents.
MARTIN: No, you’re doing fine.
MEAGAN MARIE: Forgive me, guys. Alright. Any final words? Thoughts you want to share, impressions?
MARTIN: Buy the game, everybody who’s hearing this. Buy the game.
MEAGAN MARIE: I hope they will to. That sounds like a good idea.
MARTIN: It looks like it might be the best Tomb Raider game yet.
MEAGAN MARIE: That’s exciting to hear. Alright. Well, maybe we should let you go back and try to play the 20-minute demo for another hour. [laughter] Have a good night.
MARTIN: Thank you. You too.
Segment 4: Lars Winkler Q&A
MEAGAN MARIE: So I am now here with Lars Winkler. And you are. I just say you’re the head honcho, kind of, over at Square Enix Germany. What is your official title.
LARS WINKLER: My official title is marketing director of Square Enix in Germany.
MEAGAN MARIE: You get to do a lot of fun stuff. I first met Lars last year at a German community event that we threw, which I thought was a lot of fun. I remember walking into your office and seeing all this crazy Tomb Raider stuff, and then we just started talking about stories, about the stuff you’ve done at Eidos throughout the years, and I was insanely jealous of your Angel of Darkness rose-base statue that you had, right?
LARS WINKLER: Right.
MEAGAN MARIE: That’s one of the rare ones. So I wanted to have you on since we’re in Germany. I thought it would be a great chat, just about some of the stuff you’ve done over the years. But first. What do you do at Square Enix Germany as the marketing director? Just an overview of your job.
LARS WINKLER: Yeah, yeah. Square Enix Germany is a subsidiary of Square Enix Europe, and we’re pretty small. A tiny office based in Hamburg, where we do all the marketing and PR stuff. Internally, we communicate with the studios, like Crystal Dynamics, but we also do the marketing campaigns and PR campaigns for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and talking to our distributor here in Germany to bring the products to market.
MEAGAN MARIE: How many games are you supporting at the moment? Because it’s obviously not just Tomb Raider.
LARS WINKLER: No, we have a good lineup. Right now we’ve finished the campaign for Sleeping Dogs, which was released today, obviously. That’s more or less done. Next big thing, triple-A thing, is Hitman: Absolution, coming out on November 20 of this year. And then, yeah, we’re looking forward to Tomb Raider, March 5 in Germany. It’s a bit earlier, maybe, two days or so in North America?
MEAGAN MARIE: As far as I know it’s March 5 everywhere.
LARS WINKLER: Okay, everywhere, I’m sorry for that.
MEAGAN MARIE: So we’re going to be coordinating some big stuff. Speaking of Hitman, I love that you guys did this. I mentioned earlier in the podcast, we’re at GamesCom right now. What are some of the cool things that you guys did for the Hitman marketing at GamesCom? I saw these.perhaps, little tongue-in-cheek “Assassin” signs that you had all over.
LARS WINKLER: Yeah, the name of the game is Hitman, but obviously this is a game about an assassin, about assassination in a way. This is Hitman 5, we call it Hitman: Absolution, but the last game came out in 2006, and right after our release, a new franchise made it to the market, called Assassin’s Creed. We found it very interesting to see the color palette of this game, and the pose, and the music they used in the game. It reminds us a bit of our Hitman game, in a way. You should have a look. It’s very, very interesting to compare both games. We thought, you know, now that Hitman is coming back in November, we feel that, honestly. We think we are the original Assassin, and that’s why we created this campaign, about the original Assassin. It’s a very, very, I think, self-confident. It’s creative, but it’s also a very funny campaign. We take it in a fun way, and we think that there are some steps where we can really ask the community. If you like Assassin’s Creed, for instance, just have a look at Hitman. It’s really worth a try to play our game. It’s going to be really interesting. There’s a lot of things you can compare with Assassin’s Creed and Hitman in a way. We made a lot of fun things about it. I think when you check out Facebook and YouTube, you’ll see some parts of our campaign.
MEAGAN MARIE: There were little cutouts of, basically, the Assassin character from Assassin’s Creed sitting with a help-wanted sign.
LARS WINKLER: Yeah, it says, like, “Wow, Hitman is back, I’ve lost my job, I’ll have to go look for a new one.” We made a photoshoot with a guy who put on a robe, and maybe it’ll remind some people of the Assassin’s Creed character.
MEAGAN MARIE: I thought it was cute. And it is tongue-in-cheek, so I think it’s funny. It’s hard to take offense to it. I liked it a lot. Just in general, before we dive into some of the stuff that you’ve done in the past, how’s the show gone so far?
LARS WINKLER: Great.
MEAGAN MARIE: You were just running around doing signings for Final Fantasy. Lots of Final Fantasy stuff going on here also.
LARS WINKLER: Exactly. Naoki Yoshida, the executive producer from Final Fantasy IV reborn, is here at our booth, and he’s doing great, great work. Obviously he’s there for the whole day putting on a lot of shows. He just finished an autograph session with the fans. We asked the fans beforehand to print out some stuff that makes it a bit easier for him to sign. They’re coming up with banners and T-shirts and white and pink PS3 consoles, which are only available in Japan. They’re really, really dedicated fans. It’s really interesting. The feedback has been absolutely awesome so far. The fans are really looking forward to Final Fantasy, so it’s great to see their reaction.
MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, so let’s go back a bit. How long have you been at Eidos and then Square, in total?
LARS WINKLER: I started with Eidos in 1999. It’s been a while. I started with Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. My first game at Eidos was Soul Reaver, that came out the same year, a couple of months before Last Revelation. It’s a long time. But I’m a big Tomb Raider fan, I’m a big fan of Lara Croft. That was my motivation to join the company, to be honest. I come from a totally different direction, nothing to do with the entertainment industry at all, or video gaming.
MEAGAN MARIE: Really!
LARS WINKLER: Yeah.
MEAGAN MARIE: And Tomb Raider was one of your motivations to try to get in?
LARS WINKLER: Well, the personal story behind that is that. My girlfriend, at that time she worked for an agency. This agency, they created a job description ad. Before they booked it into the newspaper, she brought it home and showed it to me, and I saw that Eidos was looking for a creative director. So I was calling the managing director of Eidos Interactive in Germany a day before the newspaper was out and he said, “Hey, where do you get this from?” I said, “You know what, I’m a big fan, and I can’t believe I could join the company, so just have a look at my CV and maybe it’ll fit.” Then I got into the interview, and it’s all good from there.
MEAGAN MARIE: So you started with Last Revelation, but you’d played the Tomb Raider games beforehand, so you’re an original early adopter?
LARS WINKLER: Yeah, absolutely. I love Tomb Raider, and I played all the games. I even made a speed run with Tomb Raider II. I’d already won a competition in Germany. I think the guy who finally got ahead of me on the speed run with the first level, the Great Wall in Tomb Raider II. I think he cheated. [laughs] Maybe he changed the time in the photos. Because I can’t imagine that he can do it faster than I could. I played all the games. And not only the games. I replayed them looking for the treasures and everything else in the game. Over time, of course, when it comes to the campaigns and the goodies and the models you meet, and Angelina Jolie for instance. You collect a lot of stuff. When we first met and you came into my office.
MEAGAN MARIE: I was so jealous, because you had so many unique, one-off kinds of things. It’s always interesting when I travel, to see things that were created specifically for certain countries. This is a huge, broad question, but what are some of the coolest campaigns you’ve done surrounding Tomb Raider?
LARS WINKLER: I think it has something to do with. This is more or less marketing chitchat, maybe about the positioning, but. Lara Croft, honestly, in the early days, especially in North America, some people would say “Laura Croft.” The whole pronunciation was. The game itself was about more like Tomb Raider and the action part, in North America. Whereas in Germany, it was absolutely awesome to see the reaction when the game released. A woman was the main character in a game, and the third-person perspective was something new. There were two components which created a big buzz in Germany about the game itself, but also Lara. So I can’t tell you what has more weight, Lara or the game. The positioning in Germany, when I started on it with the guys before me. They said, “We can’t concentrate only on the game. We have to make Lara big in Germany.” So we created different stuff for the German community. Back in the days with Core Design and the brand direction they took, they mainly focused, of course, on the big markets. Germany is among the big markets, but maybe it’s not the biggest. We felt that there was room to improve, in a way. That we could make it more casual. Make it fit in a better way for the German community. So we created some stuff around Lara Croft on her own. You know the statue with the roses? That was at a time where we felt that we should put Lara on a higher level. She’s an icon, you know? She’s not a gaming character anymore. She’s so mass-market. She had cover stories on the biggest German newspapers and magazines. She was on a cover before Mario was on a cover in Germany. Honestly, it’s really, really interesting. I have all the covers still. It’s really interesting to see that. So we started to think about adding more depth to Lara. It’s interesting to see how many things you can create. At a certain level, when a character in a game is very popular, then other things come to the game. We were asked by different museums, if they could have a dedicated show just about a gaming heroine, Lara Croft.
MEAGAN MARIE: Oh, wow.
LARS WINKLER: Yeah! Another story about Assassin’s Creed, maybe. I met Yves [Guillemot] and the managing director for Ubisoft two years ago, and they were speaking about how they now have an art museum in Germany that’s having a big opening, and I said. What? We had that back in ’99 with Lara! It was really great. Obviously they didn’t know about that, but it wasn’t a surprise to them. When you look at the whole life cycle, you really find out. Lara has been on the market for such a long time now, so there’s been a lot of campaigns, a lot of things just around Lara. Especially in Germany. We tried to find ways to focus more on the character.
MEAGAN MARIE: Do you have any examples of specific things that you created? Do you have a hand in merchandising and licensing, also? Just products and things like that, anything that you created that you’re especially proud of or that was really fun to work on?
LARS WINKLER: It’s not so much like merchandising stuff, the stuff that you produce for the community. Like art prints or special frames or special branded, airbrushed editions. We felt that it’s great to have such a gaming legend like Lara, but we want to share it with the community. So it’s not like producing something to make more revenue or something. At a certain point you have to give a lot of things back to the community. Whenever we did that, we looked, first. Should we do it in a limited way, to let the community buy stuff from us, but in a limited way so that they really feel special? Or should we just give it away? That’s what we did. We’re looking to ways of producing other statues around Lara, maybe with the new Tomb Raider game or other stuff that’s coming up. We started, first, with a company who’s creating the great life-size statues for Tomb Raider in Germany. The company was based in Mannheim, near Frankfurt, but now they’ve moved to Australia. All this is something that we created because we feel that we can definitely do something with Lara that’s special.
MEAGAN MARIE: Did you guys do some kind of Swarovski crystal 360? Was that you guys? That’s kind of an example, one of the one-offs that you did, one of the unique pieces.
LARS WINKLER: Exactly. That was for Tomb Raider Underworld. It was a collaboration we set up with Microsoft in Germany. By that time it was very popular. It was called “Pimp Your Phone” or “Pimp Your Mobile.” Behind that is a company based in Berlin, and they gave us a contact with the Swarovski company. We said, you know what? Normally on the phone you put on something like 100 or 1,000 Swarovski crystals. So what do you say if we create three unique Tomb Raider Underworld Swarovski Xbox versions? We were asking people to think about how many Swarovski crystals were on there, and then the winner got one of them.
MEAGAN MARIE: Wow. How many were there?
LARS WINKLER: Of course, we gave one to Microsoft. There were 42,000. It was incredible.
MEAGAN MARIE: It really is.
LARS WINKLER: I didn’t count them personally, but they said it was 42,000.
MEAGAN MARIE: Have you met all of the Tomb Raider models throughout the years? I feel kind of evil asking if you have a favorite. Did you get to interact with them at all?
LARS WINKLER: Yes and yes. [laughter] I don’t know if I remember all of them, but Jill de Jong and Lucy Clarkson, Lara Weller. Honestly, whenever we had a live Lara model. Because we asked them to travel to GamesCom. It was Leipzig before, now it’s Cologne. We asked them to travel to the venue and help out with doing some promotions. But the best. If I can say that? The best. Karima Adebibe.
MEAGAN MARIE: You know what? So many people love her. And I love her too. I love all the classic ones too, but she’s just so personable and fun.
LARS WINKLER: Absolutely. Every Lara model was great, and very handsome, very nice. It was very interesting to meet them and talk to them. But the will to support Lara in a special way, that was really Karima, and I’m really thankful that I met her. We did some great stuff here at GamesCom a couple of years ago.
MEAGAN MARIE: Okay, another evil question. If you had to pick one item out of your Tomb Raider collection that’s your most valuable or most prized, what would it be?
LARS WINKLER: Yeah, that’s Lara on the roses. I have two versions of the statue, and then the big billboard, which is framed in my cellar where I have all my game stuff.
MEAGAN MARIE: Can I request a photo of that?
LARS WINKLER: Yeah.
MEAGAN MARIE: I’m going to get a photo of that and I’m going to put it on the blog. I promise. Okay, so they’re literally about to take the booth down around us. I think we’re gonna get kicked out. So we’ll have to cut the interview a little bit short, but thank you so much for chatting with us! It’s actually really interesting to hear from the marketing side of it. Man, I wish I could have been there for some of these experiences.
LARS WINKLER: Oh, but it’s so boring!
MEAGAN MARIE: No, actually, it’s quite fascinating, so thank you. I appreciate your time.
LARS WINKLER: Thank you very much, and have fun with the new game.
MEAGAN MARIE: Alright, that’s it for now. Thanks for listening. We’ll be doing plenty more podcasts while we travel about and promote Tomb Raider. I think the next stop we have is PAX. So hopefully we’ll get to see some of you there.