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Interview: Ngmoco Adds Publishing Arm, Sega's Jeffery To Lead

Interview: Ngmoco Adds Publishing Arm, Sega's Jeffery To Lead

June 15, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

Sega of America president and CEO Simon Jeffery is leaving his role for iPhone firm Ngmoco -- where he'll be heading up the company's brand-new publishing arm.

Ngmoco's new Plus Publishing group plans to partner with other iPhone developers to give them access to its publishing framework -- including Ngmoco's "social player network" that's currently in the works.

Ngmoco promises more details forthcoming about its Plus Network in the near future, but a concept similar to Xbox Live for mobile social-networked gameplay seems to be coalescing.

For now, though, Jeffery is enthusiastic about joining Ngmoco as it begins to grow beyond the development of well-received mobile titles like Rolando and aim for a leadership position in iPhone gaming across the board.

"I've been in the video game business for a very long 22 years, and I've pretty much worked in big, established companies that whole time since the beginning," Jeffery tells Gamasutra. And he says he's excited to see a "polarization" in the industry, an alternative to the hit-driven blockbuster model.

"People have stopped talking about the $25 million games, and we're talking about the $25,000 games," he says. "That shift in gaming has happened remarkably quickly, and I really want to be part of that."

"In a very, very short period of time, [Ngmoco has] built a nascent organization into something that's emerging as a potential leader in the gaming space on the iPhone."

Jeffery says Ngmoco's founding team always had a vision beyond simply publishing their own titles. "The ecosystem of iPhone gaming is so large and diverse that the successes that Ngmoco has built... we think we can share them with other developers, publishers and IP holders that might want a different way of getting to market with the platform that Ngmoco is building," he explains.

Publishing Plus

Co-founder Joe Keene says the company's learned a lot thus far from its focus on the iPhone OS, and conversations with potential partners and interested iPhone developers yielded a "wide array" of responses on developers' wants and needs to address the iPhone market.

Expect more "deep creative collaborations with the Secret Exits [Zen Bound] of the world," says Keene. "But we also found these groups of other types of developers and publishers who want to address the iPhone, and admired what we've been able to do in terms of focusing on the audience and device, and getting the most out of it," Keene explains.

Thus the Publishing Plus arm, to be headed by Jeffery, is "really our attempt to try to extend some leadership to these other areas, where there are great things to be done," Keene says.

"It doesn't require maybe the capital or creative collaboration that we bring to the label, but it can use other parts of what we can do."

This will include marketing and strategy support, assistance with the technology platform and other breeds of publishing collaborations scaleable depending on the individual case.

"From our perspective, it's another way to bring great things to the iPhone OS -- which is ultimately what we're all about," adds Keene. "We want to make this the best platform for gaming out there and publishing is a way to do that."

Community On The iPhone?

Another way will be the company's Plus Network -- for now, Keene won't share specifics. But one thing he'll say "is that building a community of gamers in these kinds of experience is really core to our future strategy, and one of the things that will be leveraged highly in the work that Simon will be doing."

"Making sure we can always address that audience, and that that audience is connected to one another and communicating with one another about what they're doing, what they're playing -- competing with each other, challenging each other ...that, we think, is an important new way to keep successful."

Adds Jeffery, "We're literally going to be scaling this out and formulating our plans over the next few weeks. Obviously, the guys here have already had some conversations with some developers."

"We want to make sure that the people who want to work with us want to work with us for the right reasons, but I think there's going to be a fairly open-door policy," Jeffery says. "People who believe in the Ngmoco values, we'd very much like to talk to -- small publishers, indies, large publishers, IP holders, pretty much anyone."

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