Dev Profile: Studio Director Joe Nickolls

At Capcom Vancouver we’re proud of the games that we make and even more proud about the people we get to make them with. Today we’re taking a look at one of those people behind the games as we sit down with Studio Director Joe Nickolls.


What does a Studio Director do?


I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations of the studio—of the products we make, who’s making them and how much they cost, the culture, vision of the studio and that kind of stuff. Like William Wallace except without the battlefield or the blue face paint. Or the cinematic heroism. But the enthusiasm! That I have.


What’s your typical work week look like?


I work with our development teams and check in with the status of products that we’re making here at Capcom; I’m the face of our interactions with our publishing partners, Microsoft and Sony and that kind of thing, and I meet with them every couple of days. I work on the budgeting and overall operations and finance with my finance partner, and work on staff initiatives and performance planning with the HR department. I have a great team of producers and designers here that guide the creative process on the games that we make.


I also spend a lot of time thinking of the big picture, kind of plotting out the next five or six years here at Capcom. We do that every month—we look at how we’re doing against our five year goal. And I work with Japan and Capcom USA to make sure we’re all aligned on the products we’re making and where the studio is going.




How did you get into the gaming industry?


It was kind of a fluke. I started out in radio here in Vancouver, on air at Z95.3 FM and then I went to work for a record company in promotions and marketing and I did that for about four years. One night I went to a pub with some friends, and they brought some friends and one of their next-door neighbors came and he was an executive producer at Radical Entertainment and we hit it off. Radical interviewed me for a marketing job and halfway through the interview they said “You should be a producer,” and I said “Okay, I can do that.” I had no idea what I was doing—I just went for it, and fortunately turned out to be good at it, and I’ve been in this business for the past 18 years now, and I love it.


What part of your job gets you most excited?


I really like building things—building teams, and helping to build up the studio here. I get my greatest satisfaction from finding great people to come work at the studio, and when I see that—the people, and the projects, and the atmosphere—come together… I love it, I really do. I love people who are passionate about what they do, that have a great personality that can add to the environment of the studio. That’s what I love doing the most. I love finding people who can do amazing work and just letting them get in here and do it, letting me get out of the way.


What about Capcom Vancouver gets you most excited?


The thing that gets me most excited about the studio is where we’ve come from and how far we’ve come. When we started, we were an unknown entity, and we were unknown for a long time. And now we’ve grown into a studio that people pay attention to what we do and who we are. Looking at how far all the staff have come, and the amazing things they’ve done for the studio—that’s my favourite thing about the studio. We seemed to come out of nowhere, and our creative teams are making a splash—with new games and new ideas. I can’t wait to share the news of the other great products we have in development here.




What’s your favourite place in Vancouver?


Anywhere near the ocean! Whether it’s Stanley Park or down in Jericho. I’ve got a French Bulldog that never runs out of energy, so there’s lots of walks with him!


What is your favourite video game?


SSX Tricky. It was the first time I played a game that I went “Oh my god, I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life.” I think the thing I liked about it is it wasn’t really a snowboarding game as much as it was a racing game with crazy music and tricks.


What do you do outside of games?


I’ve got two daughters that keep me pretty busy, one of them is studying fashion design and art history, and the other is an aspiring actress and Broadway star! I’m somewhat of a foodie, so my wife and I are always looking for new places to try. And I love being out in the city. I’m a city guy and I’ve always been a city guy.


Also, I’ve started to collect art with my wife so we like to go to art galleries and see if we can find something to add to our crowded walls.


What would be your foodie resturant recommendation for Vancouver?


My favourite restaurant in the city is actually two, but they’re sort of the same restaurant because they’re joined. La Quercia and L’ufficio. It’s an Italian restaurant on 4th and Alma. I probably go there once a week! We’ve become locals who are always there. It’s hands down the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever tried, and probably one of the best restaurants period.