Outset Media is a Canadian owned board game company based out of Victoria BC. Founded by David Manga in 1996, Outset Media set out to provide board games that people can enjoy with their family and friends. They have recently released St. John’s-Opoly, a local spin on the classic version of Monopoly. St. John’s-Opoly is available exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.ca. I talked with Jean Paul Teskey, Senior Vice President of Outset Media, about the game’s inception, as well as Outset Media’s variety of board games and how the company got started.
How did the idea for this game come about?
The whole project came about due to Walmart US and the great success it had with a similar idea down in the states. Outset Media are the Canadian distributors of these “Opoly” games, so Walmart Canada reached out and asked us to create a bunch of games for cities and towns across Canada. We’ve done about 70 versions of Opoly games, with St. John’s being one of them. Each game is unique, in that the images and themes in the game celebrate the local places and events. For example, in the St. John’s-Opoly, we have locations like George Street and Water Street, as well as events like the Royal St. George’s Regatta. Even local business, like Yellowbelly Brewery and Railway Coastal Museum are featured in the game.
Do you plan to sell the game at local small businesses?
We have entered a deal with Walmart Canada to sell these games exclusively at their stores. So this game will only be available in St. John’s Walmart locations. It is unusual because we are a smaller Canadian company, but Walmart wanted to celebrate all the different communities they were a part of across the country. This is a big project and a great way to celebrate communities across Canada.
You have quite a few trivia and educational games, was this your goal when setting up Outset Media? To make fun, social, educational board games?
Outset Media was started by my old friend Dave Manga over 25 years ago. Dave founded the company on his Canadian Trivia game which has since become the best selling Canadian Trivia game ever. Canadian Trivia became the first of many Trivia games offered by Outset, but since then the company’s product line has included Party Games, Kids Games, strategy (and more) – all with the intention of creating fun, social and often educational products for family and friends.
How did you choose which St. John’s Locations would be featured in the game?
Outset Media is a Canadian company and we have people who work with us across the country. The game that launched us from the outset was a Canadian Trivia game that provides a lot of great details about places all over Canada. That, combined with our own research, helps a lot. But most of all we have our wonderful staff, some of whom are familiar with St. John’s after being there a number of times, specifically salespeople who are based in the East.
You have some licensed games from franchises like Doctor Who, Goosebumps, and Archie. Are there other licensed brands you would be interested in creating a game for?
Our biggest licensed brand right now is Jeopardy. It was quite cool for a small Canadian company like ours to attain the game rights to Jeopardy for all of North America. When we go for licensed brands, we try to focus on brands that have real longevity to them and what we call “evergreen brands”. We aren’t looking for brands that are popular at first and then run out of favor. We look towards brands that have a long history to them. We recently signed on to create Star Trek puzzles.
Do you have any future projects?
We are always looking for new products and puzzles. Cobble Hill is our puzzle brand line, and we have had amazing success with them. With puzzles and games, you need to keep refreshing them on a regular basis to keep interest. Games tend to stick around a little bit longer. For example, Canadian Trivia is a game that has been out for about 25 years, and sold over 1 million copies.
Any possibility of a Newfoundland-Opoly, or Monopoly style games based on different provinces?
You know, that is not a bad idea but it is not something we have discussed. That could be a good version later on. Since we have the deal with Walmart, we have many other cities and towns that we have to develop for them over the next couple of years. After that it sounds like a great idea.