CEO Spotlight: Her Interactive’s Stuart Moulder on the present and future of Nancy Drew

Stuart Moulder joined Her Interactive as CEO back in May, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in the games industry working with Sierra Online, Microsoft, and Gazillion Entertainment. Stuart recently sat down with Gamezebo to chat about Her Interactive’s current and future projects, including the upcoming Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes, as well as Nancy Drew Dossier and Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries.

What’s new at Her Interactive, aside from the fact that the CEO is a “he?”

We’re just about to deliver our 25th game in the Nancy Drew series: Alibi in Ashes. Nancy Drew returns to River Heights, which is pretty exciting. But I think fans will be really excited to hear that they get to finally meet Nancy’s longtime beau Ned!

And yes, the new CEO is a “he.” However,Megan Gaiser, Her Interactive’s longtime CEO, is still here and weare working together to lead Her Interactive. With two of us working together, Megan has more time to focus on the creative direction of Her Interactive which will help us build even more exciting games in the future.

I’m excited to join a company with such a long and distinguished history. On a more personal level, I have a 10-year-old daughter that I’m working hard to raise the right way – as a gamer, of course! So I have a stake in helping make games that she and girls like her will love.

What are the company’s current and future project line looking like?

I mentioned Alibi in Ashes, which is available Oct. 18. Naturally we are already hard at work on Nancy’s next adventure. I won’t give anything away except to say that Nancy’s stay at home (in Alibi in Ashes) is brief – the next game definitely does NOT take place in River Heights!

For each game we take a look at ways we can improve while retaining the core fun that has made Nancy Drew such a success. So while it is a bit earlier to reveal more, I can tell you that we are definitely working hard on some exciting new features for our upcoming games.

Going back to Alibi in Ashes for a moment, given that players finally get to meet Nancy’s boyfriend Ned, will the relationship between them start to become a larger focus in the series?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I can say that players will certainly have no doubts about Ned’s devotion to Nancy after playing Alibi in Ashes. Having revealed that much, I do want to assure players that the focus of our games is the mystery and that will always be the case. And while the relationships between Nancy and her friends will continue to be a crucial element in these stories, we are not about to turn our games into soap operas!

Alibi in Ashes is the first time that players get to control three other characters (Ned, Bess, and George), as well as Nancy herself. Will we see more of this “ensemble” gameplay in future games, or is this unique to this particular title?

We approach each game as a new creative challenge. For Alibi in Ashes, we believed the combination of returning to River Heights and being able to explore and solve the mystery as different characters was a unique and appropriate twist for this mystery. In the future, we may take this ensemble approach again, but it is not necessarily the right creative angle for every mystery.

Are there any plans to continue the Nancy Drew Dossier series of casual adventures for PC?

We don’t currently have plans to do more in the Dossier line, but you never know. We learned a lot from doing the Dossier line, but one issue that we ran into was that fans of our core line of Nancy Drew mysteries didn’t feel that the Dossier line met their expectations. We’ve established a style of gameplay in the twenty plus games in the series and it’s hard to change that for the hard-core fan. So if we were to try our hand again at a Dossier game or something like it, we will need to figure out how to ensure that any new game meets the expectations of our current fans.

What are Her Interactive’s plans for more Nancy Drew Mobile Mysteries interactive fiction apps for iPhone and iPad, like Shadow Ranch?

We are excited at the potential of this form of story-telling, but don’t have anything to announce at this time.

Are there any plans to move beyond Nancy Drew?

We are always looking at the market and our customers and opportunities to deliver games that would complement our Nancy Drew line. That said, we don’t have anything to announce at this time.

What are your thoughts about the about retail environment?

Our Nancy Drew line has managed to defy the overall downward trend in retail for quite a while. However, the environment is quite challenging and we are seeing less and less shelf space devoted to PC games at our key retailers. I believe this trend only further hurts the retail business for all games as well as our own.

That said, many of our customers continue to prefer physical copies of our games, and we continue to build and ship the majority of our games in this format. And we plan on distributing most of these games through the retail channel.

As we work with the challenging retail environment, we have also been working hard to be sure our digital editions are widely available, including directly from our own site,

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