Interview with Stéphane Baudet, Founder and CEO
Stéphane Baudet is being interviewed as the Founder & CEO of The Tiny Digital Factory. With more than 30 years of video game development expertise, Stéphane is the creative mind behind successful AAA and mobile racing franchises.
He describes today how Infinite Drive came about, the non-fungible token revolution for the gaming industry, and the challenges and future of Infinite Drive.
My name is Stéphane Baudet, founder and CEO of The Tiny Digital Factory. My role is essentially a creative role, although since we are a relatively small company, I tend to handle various tasks.
Prior to TDF, I have co-founded and managed Eden Games, another studio specialized in Racing Games, before spending a a part of my career in larger companies like Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive.
Through my career, my job was to create gaming projects and gather talents to build them.
In the 80s (yes, I am that old…) I was passionate about computer science and board games. During my computer science studies, I was regularly sending my game creations to publishers, until one hired me as a professional programmer.
Soon, I realized that I wasn’t just a programmer and that I wanted to be in charge of the whole game, coordinating artists, programmers and designers. My first game was one of the first real-time strategy game called North & South on personal computer and 8 bits consoles.
I am a really passionate person, and I am lucky enough to travel the world for my job, so I’d say everything around me is a source of inspiration. I also had the chance to meet and work with brilliant people during my career inside and outside of the video game industry and those people, whether they are entrepreneurs, artists or engineers were the biggest source of inspiration in my job.
People I work with tends to describe myself as “the pain in the arse”. They feel like I am never satisfied and when we achieve something, I am already on the next goal. My role is to drive teams and the project, to show the way and to make sure everyone delivers their best. One day, I’ll be working on a feature design with the game designers, the next I’ll be sitting with an engineer, trying to understand how to optimise the game frame rate, and eventually talk to investors to convince them we need more time and money to fulfill the project vision. This is very demanding, but this is what makes me awake every morning feeling that I am a very lucky person to have this job.
Outside of work, my other passion lies in automotive and motorsport. In those words, I find a lot of parallels with our video game industry: The always evolving technologies, the product design, the competition and the team spirit.
Racing games is the genre I play the most, but I am not a very competitive player. I spend more time deconstructing the game design, effects, audio or features. I admire the attention to details provided by game developers to exceptionally good games like Gran Turismo or Forza Horizon. Test Drive Unlimited is probably the game I created that I am the most proud of in term of concept, it was way ahead of his time. Infinite Drive concept borrows a lot to Test Drive Unlimited but is using Web 3 technologies to empower decentralised communities and partners to build the game content.
Many traditional games, especially persistant Mobile and PC games motivate players to invest themselves in building characters, collecting digital Items and trophies. As long as you consider your time spent in those games as pure entertainment, you may not see the value of your levelled up characters and inventories. But your involvement and your time spend on building those item collections are part of what makes the game a great game and outside of the entertainment value you receive, you don’t really benefit from it. NFTs is a great way to attach a value to your personal contribution to the game eco-system, the more you contribute, the better the value. NFTs and other blockchain mechanisms allow for a recognition of the player community contribution to the game success.
We have been building mobile games for the last 10 years and AAA console and PC developers were mocking us, because of the lower technologies and production value offered by Mobile games. But the real breakthrough of mobile gaming was the switch to a game as a service model. Today, our challenge on Infinite Drive, is to serve a very diverse community of users composed of traditional gamers, content creators and investors profiles. In order to reduce that diversity, our mantra is to consider them all as players first and foremost. Infinite Drive should not become a Defi App for passive investors and content creators and strong game contributors should be rewarded as much as players spending on NFTs. This balance is our biggest challenge for the months to come.
This is a very exciting time, full of unknowns and potential. We have detailed plans and a multiple year roadmap ahead of us, but this roadmap will be mostly driven by the player community. We want to build this metaverse with the community and with our automotive and motorsport partners. We want to stay humble, focused and agile. We want to remain a small or mid size company for a while to make sure everyone in the team is fully dedicated to provide the necessary tools and support the community and partners need to build the most promising automotive metaverse.
By The Tiny Digital Factory Team
Published August 17, 2022
Stéphane is the Founder & CEO, and has 30+ years of AAA and Mobile game development expertise. Founder of Eden Games and The Tiny Digital Factory, he is the creative mind behind hugely successful AAA and mobile racing franchises, such as V-Rally, Test Drive Unlimited, F1 Mobile Racing and GT Manager.