When PlayStation marketing boss Peter Dille said in March this year that he left Sony Computer Entertainment America
, his immediate plans weren't to jump to the next gig. Instead, he took some time off with his family, traveled Europe a bit and put the video game industry on the backburner.
"I had never really taken any time between gigs," Peter Dille told Gamasutra in a recent phone call. "You know, you rush from one job to the next, one email to the next, and you kind of live your life that way. It was nice to take a step back, and think about what I want to do next."
Turns out, what Dille wanted to do next with his career was skip right past the traditional console space that he was so dedicated to, and bring his marketing expertise to a new kind of firm: The social app and game monetization company Tapjoy, where he's now the chief marketing officer
At PlayStation, Dille was often the public face of Sony's games business in the U.S. He helped launch the original PlayStation in 1995, served as SVP of global brand management at THQ, then returned to Sony as SVP of marketing for PlayStation just months before the 2006 launch of the PlayStation 3.
To some who are ingrained in the ways of the traditional console space, his new job title of "Tapjoy CMO" may not be quite as sexy as his old label of "SVP at PlayStation," but taking on a new space at an up-and-coming company in an emerging market was plenty of motivation to go to Tapjoy, said Dille.
"I spent a lot of time thinking about hot sectors. Mobile and social were both of interest. I was introduced to the people at Tapjoy, and the rest is history," he said.
Tapjoy's business still operates in the games industry, but it's quite a different approach than the traditional console model. The venture capital-funded company works with mobile app and game developers, as well as advertisers, by providing monetization tools to clients. Its in-app ad platform is the basis for a network that services over 9,000 apps and over 250 million global customers on iOS, Android and other mobile platforms, according to the company.
Dille is unfazed by the differences between his old career at PlayStation and his new one at TapJoy. "It's very different in many ways, but there's also common DNA," he explained. "Number one, there's still technology. There's still an awful lot of gaming that runs through this company's business. But I also think that some of the trends that really just started to take hold in the gaming world have actually been the lifeblood of mobile and Tapjoy."
He added, "Specifically, the freemium business model is one that is growing in the console gaming world, and it's what this [Tapjoy] business is all about. [Make it] free-to-play, get players exposed to something, then begin to extract microtransactions -- it turns into a very lucrative business."
Emerging business models aren't totally alien to Dille. Along with heading up marketing at PlayStation, he was also SVP of PlayStation Network, Sony's online platform. Compared to Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony has been the one most willing to experiment with free-to-play, microtransaction- and ad-supported business models on its proprietary console.
Asked if his move from the console to the mobile space was a sign that he's lost confidence in the viability and agility of the primarily disc-based console business, he replied, "No, not at all. I left Sony on very good terms, and I'm still friends with an awful lot of people there. I left the company in a very good position, their business is going great, and I think they'll continue to do great. It really was more of a personal decision to want to do something else that I haven't done."
But are video game publishers acting fast enough to keep up with a mobile and social space that is rapidly evolving? "I think the smart ones are," Dille said. "...Most publishers look at platforms in a very agnostic way, and they're looking at where they can put their IP, and where they can make money. And if that's a console or a mobile platform, or whatever it is, they're following where the consumers are going."
"What's indisputable is that the mobile category is growing. The true hockey stick curve is evident within mobile," he said. "...You can't ignore what's going on with mobile."