Company Spotlight #6: Gear Games

November 24th, 2006 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments »

For today’s company spotlight, we met up with Russia based mobile games developer Gear Games. We spoke with Artyom Shumsky, CEO at Gear Games about how they expect to conquer the market with their RTS games as main weapon.

[Arjan] To kick off, can you tell us a bit about the background of your company?

[Artyom] In the beginning of 2004, three high-minded guys decided to create a map for mobile phones and we named that project jMap. The maps of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg were ready in 4 months with a great amount of supported phones for that time. But the mobile market in Russia was and still remaining very poor. So to survive, we had to implement our apps in other fields, for example with car security equipment to locate a stolen car:) Also we have made some projects as work for hire. In 2005 we decided to start creating our own games. Wasteland was the first one, but we’ve made an error choosing a publisher for it, so the game is not published yet outside Russia and Ukraine. Then there were two games as a warming-up and some days ago we have finished Art Of War – our crowning achievement for this year! Today Gear Games is a small team of developers, designers (even one composer;) with good experience of game development and porting. As you see, we are just beginning to get into the global mobile market.

[Arjan] When looking at your website, we see a very limited portfolio of games, mainly focused at the RTS genre. Does this mean you want to be the king of Mobile RTS, or do you plan to go for a wide range of mobile games?

[Artyom] First, came the idea to create the game, and then we began to decide what genre it will be. We didn’t want to create trash as do most of the Russian developers do and we didn’t have enough money to create branded games. Our only chance to stand out against the background of other developers was to create a unique game. As all of us were the great fans of strategy games in our youth, we chose this genre to try ourselves. As there were no good RTS games for that time we decided to create the best real-time strategy game for mobile. As it turned out, it is not that easy to create such a game. We faced many difficulties creating the engine and AI, improving performance, etc. As a result Wasteland became a good game with beautiful graphics, but it didn’t satisfy the requirements of the mobile games market as we envisioned it. It was a game for hard-core gamers, not for casuals. We tried to correct this error in Art Of War and make it more suitable for a wider audience. I would say that it even appeared to be more of an action or casual game than a strategy for hard-core gamers. Turning back to your question I can say that we don’t want to be the king of Mobile RTS, but we still want to be only company brought the classic RTS experience to mobile. It would be silly to scatter our manufacturing resources for creating ordinary platformers or puzzles that flood the market already while having such a great fund of knowledge in RTS creating. So we’ll proceed in the chosen way creating interesting quality RTS games. Maybe one day we’ll change the course, but for now we have too much ideas in this sphere.

[Arjan] The game that caught my immediate attention was your Prehistoric Park game. Can you tell a bit about the development of this mobile game?

[Artyom] Oh, this is my favourite game! The market needs bright funny games and we want to provide them. Our Prehistoric Park is a worthy reply to all Sim series out there. It’s a simulator of an amusement park. Of course it’s also a full RTS. Game is filled with different funny moments, such as visitors fighting when they are bored and angry, attractions breaking down, etc. so player has to solve all those difficulties to make the recreation park for his primitive visitors pleasant and to earn more money. In the view of technical realization, it has a very complicated isometric engine and we had to work hard to optimize the AI because there will be up to 200-300 primitive persons simultaneously, and they all have to decide what to do several times a second! Can you imagine how much operations the phone has to fulfil?! So one of the main tasks now is to polish the AI algorithms to make game to work at slow phones as Samsung E530 and Motorola V3i.

[Arjan] That sounds like a real battery buster! Looking at the next year though, which highlights can we expect from your company?

[Artyom] As I already said, we are going to work in the same direction. We want to continue the prehistoric series with two interesting simulators. Of course there will be a second part of Art Of War. The game is expected soon.

[Arjan] From a business point of view, do you mainly focus on the traditional route to market like operator channels, or will we also see ad subsidized versions of your mobile games?

[Artyom] I think that advertisement in games is a very challenging business, but still our primal objective is to get to the world market by traditional channels.

[Arjan] Which geographical market is the most important for you now, and which one is the next to conquer?

[Artyom] As we just beginning to get to the world market, so the whole world is the most important market for us. The optimum alternative for us is to find one good publisher and to focus our manufacturing resources on producing new games.

[Arjan] Looking at the competition in the mobile games market, which game of another developer do you really like to play and why?

[Artyom] The best game I’ve ever played at my phone was Stranded by Glu Mobile. It’s really a good quest/adventure game with wonderful graphics and the thing I’ve liked most is the great freedom of action. I was very disappointed though that a game by such a big developer and publisher was hanging very often between locations at my Nokia 6670. This probably means they don’t test their games in a proper way despite the fact that millions of people buy them over the world. When these guys talk about the quality needed for mobile games market, it is a pity they have bugs in their software.

    2 Responses to “Company Spotlight #6: Gear Games”

    1. Miklos Csemy says:

      I like what GearGames do! Thumbs Up! Only I am a little angered that they claim to have made first mobile RTS… or Java RTS which very inacurate. “Warriors of the Lion”, “Ages of Empires II”, “Lords of Chaos”, “YERS”, “Strategy War” are only some of Java RTS

    2. Miklos Csemy says:

      “we still want to be only company brought the classic RTS experience to mobile”
      Sorry guys, YERS is already out there. I like your game AOW a lot. But you should look more around the market so you don

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    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.


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