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PopCap: The Complexity Of Being Casual
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PopCap: The Complexity Of Being Casual

June 20, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 7 Next

What's kind of frustrating in the mobile space is that a lot of the problems, such as making the buying experience better and making it easier for people, have been solved in most other countries.

DR: But not here yet.

And not here. It's like, "Come on!"

DR: We've seen some glimmers of hope with some of the other carriers over there. We've always been big advocates of...

JV: The visibility is going to help.

DR: We've always been advocates of the try/buy law, because that's how we've worked in the PC space. We've really always believed that if the carriers would let people try games for free, people would buy more of their games and they would get better games.

JV: Except they're like, "We already tried that model, and it didn't work." And you're like, "Yeah, but you tried that on the Soul Plane video game mobile adaptation." It's like, "Try it on a real game and you're going to see it work much, much better."

GC: Wasn't the trial period five minutes, or some insane...

DR: Even five minutes works pretty well for the ones we've done. Early on, they were worried about bandwidth, too. So they said, "Well, people just download a bunch of games and they don't buy anything because they just play everything on the deck and buy nothing!" It's like, "No. If that's what you have... if you're giving them a game that they don't actually want, then that's going to happen."

I think there's some change that has to... the game industry has been part of that problem, though, because if you look at some of the... when the frenzy for mobile game development was going a year and a half ago, people were shoveling some pretty bad games out on mobile and trying to build games for a budget. When you've got small studios doing twelve games a year, you're not going to get good stuff there.

And customers are smarter than that. You can only sell them so many bad things before they're going to stop trying. So I think that everybody hopefully learns from that and they start to get better at it. The shakeout of the market, actually, with fewer people making better games, will ultimately help that, too.

It is weird, though, when Taito/Square Enix has to go through another partner to get a big hit like Cooking Mama out. It's like, "What?"

DR: Sometimes it's like... for instance, with companies like Sprint, it's essentially that they don't have an internal group to do it, so it's less about... that business relationship doesn't matter that much, because you still have a business relationship with Sprint, it's just that they've got a different relationship to manage the gaming deck.

Yeah. It seems like they've got to learn how to care about games, and since it hasn't really proved itself in a way as being a huge money-maker...

JV: It's sad, though, because it could be one of their biggest money-makers, very easily.

DR: And they're a victim of their own PR, to a certain extent, because how long have we heard about the giant potential of the gaming business?

So many handsets out there! Everybody blah blah blah!

DR: And very few games have done really well. We've made lots of money on the mobile phone space, and we're really happy with it, but it is hard. It has to be a good game, and it has to be a game that people will want to pay for.

I think the industry overhyped itself for a while, because there were way too many overfunded companies trying to change the world and sell zillions of dollars of games on mobile phones and everybody will be playing mobile games all the time, and they didn't make very good games.

GC: There's still a little of that gold rush mentality. I just read a column in the Hollywood Reporter a couple of months ago where this mobile developer was bragging that it took them longer to port their little movie tie in-based game to 500 handsets than it took them to develop the game. And they were very proud of this. And I'm thinking, "How does that work?"

JV: That fills me with rage.

Yeah. That's not right. Five-hundred handsets.

DR: It makes our porting department not very happy, let me tell you.

GC: They wouldn't have jobs if it wasn't for 500 handsets! They should be doing backflips! (laughter)

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