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Interview: Majesco's Christina Glorioso And The Return Of The Uncool

Gamasutra talks with Majesco's CMO Christina Glorioso about the company's humdrum image, dependancy on others' brands, and success with games like Cooking Mama and Zumba Fitness.
[Gamasutra's business editor Colin Campbell talks with Christina Glorioso, CMO at Majesco, about her company's humdrum image, dependancy on others' brands, and success with games like Cooking Mama and Zumba Fitness.] Once a year the Gamasutra editorial team locks horns in a ferocious battle over which companies we each get to cover at E3. Interviews with the cool companies are won according to rank or expertise or established relationships or simply an unstoppable desire to see a certain game up close. Well, you can imagine my sense of deep satisfaction when I grabbed hold of Majesco. What? You sense sarcasm? After all, Majesco is the least cool games company in the world. Let's be frank here. It's based in New Jersey which is, apparently, an actual place. Take a look at that hideous logo. It's like something produced by a particularly unsuitable intern at Dunder Mifflin. This is a company devoted to dance games and Cooking Mama, a B-game producer wholly lacking ironic kitsch appeal (except in its rib-tickling ticker symbol: COOL). But let's not be hasty in our cooler-than-thouness. Majesco's share-price has more than quadrupled in the last year. It's enjoyed a major worldwide hit in Zumba Fitness, with sales of 2 million copies. Its most recent quarter saw a revenue increase of 195 percent. Every time the company talks to Wall Street these days, it's announcing an uptick in projected earnings. Later this year Zumba 2 will be hitting retail, and there's no doubt that, while the original was a smart piece of licensing attached to a pretty shitty game, this version is aiming for creative respectability. Christina Glorioso is chief marketing officer for Majesco. I approach the matter of Majesco's uncoolness with as much delicacy as I can muster, and she agrees that, well, yes, the logo could use some work. "But..." she gestures around the company's attractively decorated, extremely busy booth, buzzing with jaunty videos of pretty dance routines, and I take the point. Maybe Majesco's recent success is in the tried and trusted technique of making lemonade with lemons, so to speak. This is a company that is comfortable with licenses in the way THQ once was. "When we've done Alvin and the Chipmunks games or a Nancy Drew game they've always done well. When we've done our own IP they haven't done so well," says Glorioso. "We literally looked at all our IP games versus our branded games and evaluated sales across both. It became very clear that brands are the key to our success. So we stated that as a strategy." I've already written about the dangers of the dance sector as a bubble, and others agree that there may be trouble ahead, although Zumba seems to be one of those dance fads that lasts more than a couple of years. Majesco says it's spent a lot of time on researching dance trends of the last few decades, going back to step aerobics, and although they fade from the headlines after a few years, they retain devotees for many years. Interestingly, Glorioso's previous employer was MTV Games, so she knows a thing or two about the perils of the music genre. Her response to this is simply to keep researching the target audience, invest in upping product quality for hit franchises, and make sure you spread your bets. She points out that two years ago the company was all Cooking Mama, now it's Cooking Mama AND Zumba, and next year the firm will be looking to introduce another family-friendly franchise. Also, it now has an interest in the social sector following the purchase of Quick Hit. Expect further expansion into Facebook any time soon. That games journalists under-appreciate Majesco likely does not keep the company's execs awake at night, but the firm would like to see some more love from Wall Street. Glorioso says, "I personally think that we're undervalued. You see some mobile and social companies trading at 20 times EPS while we are at maybe eight times and the industry standard is 10-12 times." She adds, "At Majesco we have the social strategy and we have the revenues coming in from console games. We have both sides of the spectrum covered. We'll continue to invest in social platforms, but we'll also support the consoles."

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