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Meet the strategic mind behind publisher Deep Silver, Homefront's new owner

Last month, when Crytek came to the realization that it needed cash to stay solvent, it found a friend in Deep Silver, the publishing label owned by the German company called Koch Media.

Crytek shed people, studios and games in order to stay afloat, even going so far as to withhold paychecks for a time. But in just a few weeks a deal had been struck. Deep Silver purchased the Homefront intellectual property, originally part of the THQ bankruptcy sale, as well as the team that had been working on the sequel, called Homefront: The Revolution.

Virtually overnight Deep silver had added another studio to its portfolio, called Deep Silver Dambuster.

Over the past few years Deep Silver has repeatedly found itself in the right place at the right time. At this year's E3, Polygon sat down with Dr. Klemens Kundratitz, the man responsible for the company's strategy, to learn more about Koch Media and its Deep Silver publishing label's direction.

"I don't think that we need more than a vision of making great games that sell and be truthful to our roots."

"By education, I'm a lawyer," Kundratitz said at their second-floor demo space. "But I never really practiced after my study of law and economics. I went into the record business."

When Kundratitz started out he was working in the recording industry, publishing classical and jazz music, as well as blues and bluegrass titles.

"It was an interesting time," Kundratitz said, "I started a record company in England from scratch. I lived in London for six years. But later in that period, I felt that it was time for something new. My passion at university was software."

So the doctor of law began to learn programming, with the goal of building business applications. He founded Koch Media in 1994 with his business partner, Franz Koch. Since then he's built the company up from a distributor of software products to a games publishing company.

"We added a film business about 11 years ago as a separate business unit," Kundratitz said. "Koch Media is now 20 years old this year, and the main bulk of the business is Deep Silver."

Many PC gamers may have first been introduced to Deep Silver as the publisher of the second game in the STALKER franchise, STALKER: Clear Sky. It was through working with the Ukrainian team at Clear Sky's developer, GSC Game World, that they developed a business relationship with the team at 4A, the developer behind the cult classic Metro 2033.

Kundratitz says it was a natural fit for Deep Silver to take over for THQ as the publisher of the second game in the Metro series, Metro: Last Light, in 2013.

"It was a good experience," Kundratitz said. "We were very surprised back in January of '13 when we were sitting there in Delaware [at the THQ bankruptcy auction] that Metro was really on nobody's priority list. It was a game that was very advanced."

"I think people felt it's probably difficult in an exotic development environment to control a game and get it to the market. We weren't so scared about that, having worked with Ukrainians before."

Deep Silver's biggest successes, outside of Metro, have been the Dead Island series and acquisition of the Saints Row developer, Volition, based in Illinois and itself once part of THQ. Both game franchises, Kundratitz says, show Deep Silver's commitment to independent voices in game development.

"We're a content company," he said. "We thrive on bringing games to the gaming community which people love to play.

"I think, when you look back, we started with Dead Island on a journey as a global publisher. And initially people were surprised and people weren't necessarily believing this might be sustainable. As I think we have proven over the last three years, we are serious about what we do and we can be successful with not only one IP but a number of IPs."

Kundratitz believes that his strategic vision for Deep Silver, and for its parent Koch Media, show a bright future for the company.

"What does the future hold for us? I think we have a very exciting opportunity with new platforms ahead of us. ... I think it's an exciting time. Business models are available to us, which weren't available [before]. Free-to-play, combinations of pay-to-play and free-to-play. I don't think that we need more than a vision of making great games that sell and be truthful to our roots, to our type of games that Deep Silver stands for."

Deep Silver's free-to-play MOBA, Dead Island: Epidemic, is available now. We'll be following up with more news on Deep Silver's recent acquisition of the Homefront IP from Crytek, as well as the team working on Homefront: The Revolution, as it becomes available.

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