Buffalo’s Ben Rathbone on the appeal of Medical Mysteries – and embracing innovative ideas

Ben Rathbone, Buffalo, Ceaco, Medical Mysteries

Ben, it’s always great to catch up. To kick us off, why did Medical Mysteries appeal to Buffalo? What caught your eye?
Hi Billy, always a pleasure to chat with you. We had seen the success of mystery games such as Unsolved Case Files and Hunter Killer at retail… When the lovely folk at Identity Games showed us Medical Mysteries, we saw an exciting new take on this game genre, which brought a totally new perspective on the idea of what a mystery game could be.

Why do you feel this medical twist on the ‘mystery game’ sector will resonate with gamers?
Medical shows on TV are huge – from Casualty to Grey’s Anatomy. People have a fascination with medical dramas and Medical Mysteries puts you right into the heart of that drama. For gamers, the combination of problem solving with a set time window is a fun challenge. Every decision that you make during a case will have a consequence, so there is this great feeling that you have to think everything through and try and get as much as you can from the information given to you by the game.

The game flow is very compelling and because the time limits really make you feel like you’re in the role of a doctor having to make critical decisions under pressure. With this game, unlike some of the existing mystery games, there are actual consequences to your decisions on every turn – you really feel like you have to make the right decision!

Ben Rathbone, Buffalo, Ceaco, Medical Mysteries

Absolutely. I also wanted to ask you about ‘newness’ and risk. I interviewed someone recently who made a comparison to music and being ‘the first DJ’ – referencing the idea that there’s always one DJ that takes a risk and champions a brand-new artist, track or ‘sound’ first. How do assess when and how to be ‘the first DJ’ when it comes to publishing innovative designs?
As you know, I have been in the games industry for quite some time and one of the things that always keeps me loving this business is that I still see totally new game ideas that I’ve never seen before – that’s really refreshing.

For newness, it’s really a balance of making sure that you are on trend and creating games for those areas of the business that are thriving, while identifying potential white spaces that you feel are an opportunity and that we have a killer concept for. We are also always looking out for those concepts that feel different. Another great example is Battle Royale from Identity Games, which we are launching in the US. We loved that game because it combined a light strategy area control game with a really fun action mechanism. We felt it was such a different juxtaposition of game types that’s really fun to play.

Ben Rathbone, Buffalo, Ceaco, Medical Mysteries

Of course, the challenge with games that feel very different is then effectively communicating that to the consumer. At Buffalo, we have the luxury of having three different games brands in Buffalo Games, Gamewright and Brainwright. These cover a wide area of demographics and game types and allow us to try different things.

For example, this Fall we will be launching our first electronic brainteaser game under the Brainwright brand, which is a huge first for that brand.

We’ll keep an eye out for that. What other new or upcoming launches should we also look out for?
We have a couple of great new games from Eric Lang and Phil Walker-Harding, as well as our Sushi Go 10th anniversary limited edition, which will be beautiful. We will share more in the next few months as all of these will debut at Gen Con.

Fantastic. Thanks again Ben.

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