PopCap: The Complexity Of Being Casual
June 20, 2008 Page 4 of 7
So you do operate in the mobile space. I've heard that the carriers right now are really kind of restricting the number of content providers they will work with to seven. Well, some of them are doing that. Is this affecting you guys? I was talking to the head of Taito in America, and he was like, "Yeah, we have to go partner with somebody now."
JV: It's funny. We've been very lucky that... we went to carriers with very different propositions than any other... sort of bigger, like an EA, or Glu did, which is, "We're going to ramp up to four games a year. They're awesome, high-quality games. We're not trying to fill in your 11 to 50 on your top 50 list spots. We're trying to fill the top 10 list. That's what we're going to deliver on with great brands and, most importantly, great games."
So we've been lucky so far, as carriers have started working with fewer partners, generally speaking. We still have a direct relationship with them, and it helps having the number two best-selling game in mobile after Tetris, but it's also a challenge.
There are some carriers where we decided it's either not worth it for them or for us directly, and we should have a middleperson in there. It's been true in Europe, especially, but for the most part, we've been pretty lucky.
The problem with mobile, that is much greater than how many [carriers] we're working with, is that the games business, they don't care enough about it, compared to the ringtone business. And you know the games business is shopped under the VP of ringtones, or something, and so it's...
DR: I think the ultimate challenge in the mobile business is, "How can we improve the game-finding and buying experience?" as an industry. Because we can't do it by ourselves, and carriers can do it by themselves. It's always a little bit disconcerting.
I've been hearing that since before we signed up with carriers, that carriers have been consolidating and getting rid of vendors, and we signed up a bunch of new carrier relationships while they were all doing that. So it's possible.
I think at the end of the day, if you have great games and you can get to the right people at the carriers, you can make things happen. Sometimes you have to work through an intermediary. I'm not sure that really matters, if what we're trying to do is get our games in front of customers and make it easy for people to buy good games. That's the goal here.
Most people seem to not be making money on them yet in America. Are you guys going in Japan or Korea as well, where you can actually make a profit?
DR: We're actually one of the few companies who makes money on mobile phone games. We don't do much in Asia yet, so we make money on good old American mobile phones.
GC: Go USA!
DR: We're doing our best to get in Europe, and Europe's doing pretty well for us too. In Asia, we're just barely getting started with some relationships there.
JV: We actually did something in a Beijing office.
JV: Shanghai. Really?
GC: Well now we're going to have to open one up in Beijing. Are you happy? Before he writes this up. I'm happy.
DR: We'll have to wait until after the Olympics.
JV: So we've been developing an office, and we have about four people working. But that's going to be focused on making games for the Chinese market, not outsourcing or making games for our market. It's very much, "Hey, all the things that work over there? Do them."
Page 4 of 7