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GDC China: Kabam's focus for mobile success

GDC China: Kabam's focus for mobile success

November 18, 2012 | By Simon Carless

In a talk concluding GDC China's Smartphone & Tablet Summit in Shanghai, Kabam's Michael Li discussed the Western free to play game company's attempt to bootstrap its Chinese office.

In it, he explained how the Beijing office worked through multiple failures towards a success with the hit mobile version of Kingdoms Of Camelot: Battle For The North.

The talk was notable because it honestly described multiple sets of false starts for the China office of the developer, including attempts to make viral games for the China market, implementation of mini-games into other Kabam titles (something that never got off the ground), and even an attempt to adapt a less successful Western Kabam title for the Chinese market. (Turns out a less successful project is often less successful for reasons unrelated to the cultural!)

But the team finally hit it big when they decided to focus very specifically on the mobile market, and managed to create a #1 top-grossing U.S. App Store version of one of Kabam's existing franchises.

One of the key learnings for this continuing project? Focusing the entire office around one platform - mobile - was "very invigorating" for the employees, because there was a super-clear objective and vision - thus the ability to "rally the entire office around this goal."

In addition, the focus - moving HTML5 and Flash teams across to mobile - meant that tips and tricks, wins, and gotchas could be shared across all employees in a much more natural way.

But why be in Beijing and not turn your guns onto the local market? When asked about why the office wasn't targeting the China market right now, Li noted that the office "plays a lot of Chinese and Asian games", but they believed that the best return for Kabam's money right now is in the creation of games for the Western market.

Gamasutra is at GDC China 2012, bringing you all the latest coverage from the event. For all the lecture reports and news, head over to our main GDC China event page.

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