A promise made to his mother, the love for Commodore that began as a child and a great desire to bring the brand back into the limelight. Speaking with Luigi Simonetti, CEO of Commodore Industriues, all the passion for this historic brand in the world of technology and gaming shines through.
Commodore was present at the Milan Games Week together with Leonardo Interactive and showed the public a glimpse of what the company is today. Part hardware manufacturer, part software developer, but there are also services, with the Commodore Academy which deals with training. Commodore’s present seems well defined, but there will be no shortage of important innovations in the future, among which the development of a new console stands outas confirmed by the words of the CEO himself during our chat at the Milan fair.
A new console in Commodore’s future
Everyeye: What is the perception of the Commodore brand among the public today? Is it aimed only at nostalgics or can it also interest younger people?
Luigi Simonetti: I always thought that Commodore was intercepted first by the nostalgic, I am a Commodore even before being its CEO. Instead, over the course of these months, I’m discovering that a lot of kids, even those in their twenties, know Commodore with an absolutely reverential manner.
They come to us to actually understand how to do well, how to do better. They know the Amiga platforms perfectly from 500 to at least 1200, they still use them now to experiment with new programming methods and to discover how we did our programs in the past. Commodore today is a reality that can still use the philosophy of the past, that of exploration, of being pioneering towards new situations, discovering new solutions for common problems.
The kids are understanding it, we had a guy who bought a laptop here yesterday, a twenty-five year old, a very advanced laptop, our Orion, therefore a machine with an RTX 4090, a video card not only for playing but also for programming and chose it as his first computer for his new business. This person started working as a freelancer with a Commodore as his first computer and for us it is an honor.
Everyeye: So Commodore isn’t really a brand just for nostalgics?
Luigi Simonetti: Absolutely not, Commodore does not develop nostalgia projects, all those who are around we appreciate them without a shadow of a doubt but they are not Commodores, they are absolutely not ours. We only look to the future. As Commodore taught, we are there navigating towards new horizons.
Everyeye: But how did a brand like Commodore end up in Italy?
Luigi Simonetti: It arrived through a bet made by me, through the need to keep a promise made to my mother who as a kid gave me, despite our humble origins, access to technologies by jumping through hoops. I was a lucky child, I had practically all the Commodores on the market and she understood my propensity towards new technologies.
He did everything to enable me to get to where I am now, I’m an engineer basically. In the past, however, I had a bad accident. I was blind for two years and that shook everything up a bit. We went through a bad period, but then I found a surgeon who saved at least one eye and the first thing I saw again was a Commodore, as was the last thing I saw, so it was fate.
My mother said “If you don’t become the head of Commodore I’ll kill you“. And so before she left me a few years ago I promised her that I would do it and now I’m trying to keep this promise. It’s not an easy path, legally speaking. Now we have to finalize better in some countries in the world our position.
We came here to Milan Games Week with our laptops, four video games, an important partnership with Leonardo Interactive. We have four new video games in the pipeline for 2024, one will be a cult, another will be the return of Grisù, the little dragon, we are bringing him back into the limelight by transforming him into a video game, while RAI will produce an animated series also based on Grisù.
Everyeye: So there is not only hardware in Commodore’s present and future, but also software
Luigi Simonetti: Commodore is now a company that operates in the field of electronics and all-round information technology. It does this with three fundamental business units such as Engineering, which deals with computer and electronic engineering. They are the ones who create the programs, basically they also create the hardware. Then we have Sinapsy which does Game Development and Game Design, they deal with video games, finally we have Commodore Academy with which we do training courses. We have around 100 people who work in our staff and we have three offices around the world, we are small, we know it, but we have a great desire to do.
There is an industrial project behind it well groundedwe are proving it, this is our fourth year as Commodore and we have achieved our results.
Our Commodore Academy enabled a training project financed by Telecom for 75 million. It was the first European award presented by the ECB, so we are happy with this. A very important goal. Our games are growing, we’ve been making games for four years, we’re basically going to learn, we know what to do, we’re engineers. We have now included skills that we did not have. Commodore Sinapsy is performing well, the market has realized this and the demonstration of this is the fact that Leonardo Interactive wanted and was able to form an alliance with us to move forward together in the coming years.
Everyeye: Instead, in terms of products, what do you currently have for sale?
Luigi Simonetti: We currently have two laptops, Omnia and Orion. The Orion is our flagship, a machine on the thirteenth generation i9 platform with which you can go as far as having a 16 GB 4090, 512 GB of RAM, 8 TB of disk, a 2.5K Omnia Display screen and a millisecond of refresh, so a lot of stuff.
But the most important thing is the fact that it is one of the very few laptops to be liquid cooled for both the CPU and the GPU. Those in the industry know what it means to have this kind of technological advantage, there are only four other laptops on the market similar to ours. The most updated at the moment is probably ours. For us it was a very important milestone, we have put together a project that brings the brand back to where it deserves to be, that is, among hardware manufacturers. We are waiting for the appearance to be perfected, for now it is anthracite gray because it is made of magnesium, so we do not use plastics. But we hope to do it sooner or later a biscuit-colored version that recalls the Commodore 64.
In addition to this we have a series of minor hardware, some of them only serve to remind us of the brand, they are sticks that have the shape of a Floppy Disk or the Commodore 64, but we also have a very interesting set of wireless headphones. We have cases to keep our laptops safe and a backpack. We decided to start building around it a whole series of useful tools to then allow our buyers to walk around completely branded. We don’t want to just create an ecosystem, we want to generate a community of enthusiasts.
Everyeye: What are your medium and long term goals?
Luigi Simonetti: We have the publication of these video games I was telling you about, two of these are really interesting IPs, I can’t reveal them yet but they will cause a sensation so we are very happy about this. As for the hardware the goal is to get to have a console sooner or later, we are now internally developing a research and development project which aims to have a console with hardware inside that makes the Amiga world compatible. I can’t tell you any more, but it’s a project that we care a lot about and that is particularly exciting to us.