Involving developers in licensed games is vital, says John Wick Hex maker Bithell

Involving developers in licensed games is vital, says John Wick Hex maker Bithell

The developer of John Wick Hex Mike Bithell has said that making sure that game creators are allowed to interact with the IP holders is essential to creating licensed titles.

Speaking at York Games Festival – as reported by – the Thomas Was Alone maker said that his studio worked in close collaboration with Lionsgate, the film production company that owns the John Wick IP.

"Historically, with licensed games, you're not really in the room where it happens," he said.

"You're not with the people who make the film... You're kept at arm's length."

He continued: "They didn't want to keep us at arm's length. They actually welcomed us into the process. I'm not mentioning that because I got to hang out with the best martial artists in the world – although I did, it was great, and they kicked my ass -- it was just a surprising part of the process."

Bithell went on to say that there's been a shift in the kinds of people working at media companies and with it a greater understanding of the video games market.

"What's interesting in the last few years is the people in the suits, in the expensive boardrooms, are nerds now. They're gamers, and that's really cool," Bithell said.

"My first meeting at Lionsgate, before they let me speak to the really important people, I got to speak to some of the people I would be working with directly on a day-to-day basis. The first thing they said to me was, 'We want to be making Goldeneye.' And it's like, 'Okay, that's a high bar, we're probably not gonna hit that.

"But the objective is now to make good games, because these are people that care about good games. I use the lunchbox thing a lot, but it's true – there is a respect now for games, and an understanding of how big games are."

We spoke to Bithell in the wake of John Wick Hex's reveal in May 2019. That was ahead of a launch on the Epic Games Store in October of that year. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.