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DICE 2011: EA's Boatman Busts Five Mobile Gaming Myths
DICE 2011: EA's Boatman Busts Five Mobile Gaming Myths
February 10, 2011 | By Kris Graft

February 10, 2011 | By Kris Graft
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At the 2011 DICE Summit in Las Vegas on Thursday, EA Mobile VP of Worldwide Studios Travis Boatman said there are five "myths" about the rapidly-growing mobile gaming market that need to be busted.

Boatman helps to mastermind Electronic Arts' successful iPhone and iPad title portfolio, which includes original IP titles like Reckless Racing alongside board game licenses like Scrabble, big-budget EA Sports games and even Dead Space.

The EA exec's top five myths for the space were as follows:

Myth 1: Mobile players are on the run. While people carry mobile games wherever they go, that doesn't mean that players are in a constant race to get from point A to point B. Mobile games don't have to be designed to be squeezed into tiny amounts of time and appeal to small attention spans.

"The truth is that most people actually play mobile games from their home," said Boatman -- on the couch, in bed and on the toilet. Forty-seven percent of mobile gamers play mobile games at home. Seven percent play in the bathroom, said Boatman.

Myth 2: Mobile games are for casual consumers. Boatman said mobile game chart-toppers like Rovio's Angry Birds -- published by EA-owned Chillingo -- and EA's Scrabble have helped create the misconception that mobile games are for casual gamers.

But Boatman said that "mobile phones are really out there for everybody," and gamers want deep experiences in mobile games. Electronic Arts put that to the test with the release of Dead Space on Apple's App Store. The game is an immersive extension of its third-person shooter console sibling, and the mobile version went to the top of the charts.

With Dead Space for iOS, EA Mobile actively targeted people who want deep, immersive experiences. "I think it shows there's a hungry market out there looking for those experiences," said Boatman.

Myth 3: One size fits all. Boatman told developers that when bringing a game to multiple platforms, developers need to be sure to tailor the experience for each mobile device.

When considering bringing a game to multiple platforms, Boatman said to consider whether the target device is selling well, if it has an efficient app store and whether the device can provide a good gaming experience. "Is it important to port to other devices? I think the answer is clearly 'yes,'" he said.

Myth 4: Brands don't matter. EA has a big stable of intellectual properties, and tying those properties into mobile games has helped the company leverage that brand recognition on the app store.

A quick glance at recent sales charts shows the prevalence of mobile games based on major brands. "As the industry evolves, it moves in that direction," said Boatman. "...At the end of the day, brands aren't everything, but they do matter," he said. At the same time, he said "never bet against native IP" that was created specifically for a mobile platform.

Myth 5: This is as good as it gets. "I don't think the industry stops here," said Boatman. Constant technological advances and young talent will continue to push the mobile industry upwards, to unexpected places.

"I think there's such a bright future [for young developers] that are attacking a space that is so familiar to them," Boatman said. "...We're just on the cusp of something great. ... I think in three years you won't recognize the state of the mobile industry."


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Comments


Lo Pan
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Myth 3 is where you will find pain. Just remember that the game you build needs to be portable. If build a killer game tailored for one or two devices from a carrier deck, they will demand it to be ported and tested (out of your pocket) on 25-45 devices to be considered for release. So you will need to spend time and resources developing four versions: ultra high end (sexy), high end, mid-range, and barebones (crappy).

matt landi
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For me personally when I think of mobile I don't throw in smart phones. I'm probably considered wrong for that, but a few of the smart phones out now a days trump the picture quality of handheld gaming machines. I think it's the combination of that visual quality along with some of the touch mechanics that are driving the market. The "mobile" market is no longer about just having different versions of bejeweled and minesweeper.

Adam Bishop
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Myth 1 is misleading. According to his own stats 53% of mobile gamers *only* play games away from home. Of the remaining 47%, most probably spend at least *some* time playing games away from home. I don't know the exact breakdown of time spent by each group, but I think from those statistics it would stand to reason that most mobile gaming is, in fact, done away from home.

Ryan Dormanesh
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Since I am currently an indie developer I hope brands don't matter that much. Its true there are a lot of EA franchises up there but that might just be because there are a lot of EA games on the top of the charts in general and thats what they love to do. Also a lot of peoples first experience with these brands were actually on the iPhone app store anyways so it was all new to them.

Eric Ries
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I appreciate his recognition that big names like EA aren't destroying the little guy. It's creates hope for people like myself who develop on a smaller basis.


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