Q&A with Michael Guillemot – President and CEO, Gameloft

February 19th, 2007 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments »

Michaelguillemot Recently, Gameloft has hit our headlines a lot. Time for us to have a Q&A with Michael Guillemot, President and CEO of Gameloft, about the future of his company.

[Arjan] You announced to release 20 mobile 3D games in 2007. In 2006 however we have seen a lot of large publishers scale down on the number of games they released. Why did you choose this strategy for 2007?

[Michel Guillemot] Our decision to move aggressively with 3D in 2007 derives from the superior experience you get on most games when playing on true 3D. Life is seen in 3D, so all representations of life are better on 3D. With the arrival of quality 3D handsets, it becomes possible for the Users to reach this full 3D experience. On a good quality handset, 3D versus 2D is like color TV vs black & white TV: when you have experienced it in color, you can’t go back to B&W. As a company dedicated to providing the best wireless gaming experiences, we have to create a complete offering of 3D games to reward the consumers for investing in a new 3D handset. This will also grow the market as some players prefer only to play on 3D.

We also believe that there is still room to publish new genres and new types of games to our catalogue in both 3D and 2D. As it stands now in the mobile market, there are several genres and categories which have yet to be represented. For example, we plan to launch a karting game titled, Rayman Kart. This is the first type of game in its genre for Gameloft, so this is new to our catalogue. Our strategy is to offer diversity so that each user will find his favorite type of game however niche it may be.

Moreover, we like to offer several games of the same type so that real fans of a genre can swap from one game to another one without having to wait or change category. We can for instance encourage fans of Paris Hilton’s Diamond Quest to try Lumines Block Challenge, or Block Breaker Deluxe, or Meteos Astro Blocks because the affinity between these four games is high.

We also like to update some games, such as our sports titles:  Derek Jeter Pro Baseball was originally released in 2005 and new versions were made for 2006 and 2007.

A great opportunity of the mobile market is that games have a long shelf life. The games we launched in 2006 will continue to sell for some years, so it’s a long-term investment we’re making in creating these new games.

[Arjan] Your announcement said you want to release only 3D games in the future, while a lot of other developers still have great success with casual 2D games like Who Wants to be A Millionaire. Do you believe you found the Holy Grail when it comes to accessible, addictive 3D games or do you plan to look more at the hardcore gamer?

[Michel Guillemot] I first want to clarify that our 3D line-up in no way detracts from our continued production of 2D games. We will continue to publish and support 2D games. Some games will always remain on 2D when 3D does not enhance the experience. Today most of our consumers play on 2D handsets and we need to continue servicing them in 2007 as we have been doing in the past.

That being said, we are taking a strong position on 3D because I believe that will be the next challenge the industry will have to face. That’s why it’s strategic for us to not only stay current, but remain one or two steps ahead. In fact in the mobile space, 3D installment began 2 years ago in Japan, Korea and some U.S. carriers like Verizon. Today, it is a standard with all major U.S. and European carriers, hence the acceleration. For Gameloft, we’ve already been developing wireless 3D games for 3 years and have accumulated a great deal of experience with this. This announcement just means that we are now moving forward with 3D across the board, using this acquired experience.

[Arjan] Gameloft is well known for its porting skills over the past years and according to the press release you will keep pushing your team to port to all available devices which you estimated at 800. When switching to 3D games, I recon you will reach a lot of technical barriers when it comes to support for 3D gaming on old mobile phones. How will Gameloft deal with this? Can we expect 2D versions for older handsets, or have you developed your own engines for that like we have seen with developers like Qubic Games?

[Michel Guillemot]  If the handset is 3D-enabled- the game will be developed in 3D, if not- it’ll be developed in 2D. When a handset does not have the power to be truly 3D, the best experience will remain on the 2D one. An important factor to us is that all players can play our games whatever the handset they chose to play on. We will continue to support all consumers with the best possible gaming experience.

[Arjan] In the press release, there was a note about an increase of file size for mobile games. What do you estimate as a ‘normal’ file size for a Gameloft game these days?

[Michel Guillemot] File sizes depend on the handset’s capacity and consumers expectations of quality. When a user purchases a new handset with advanced graphics and enormous memory capacity, and then pays an extra subscription for 3G, he has a hard time accepting that his gaming experience will be limited by the same file size he had 3 years ago. So our aim is to continue to fit with what is good for the user’s experience on his handset and persuade the carriers to move forward on their limitations to enable their networks to deliver these experiences. In fact the Carriers have already moved forward with advancements on 3D, Music, video, so they usually do not have any real problems to move up on 2D games as well. The consumer’s experience is much higher when you increase the file size of a game, especially on new handsets.

[Arjan] Working with native programming languages offers a lot more possibilities then just 3D games. With your D2C channel Gameloft Connect in mind, can we also expect games where consumers can for example download extra levels or items from Gameloft?

[Michel Guillemot] Absolutely. More and more we are integrating such options into our games. Some carriers, like Sprint, are very willing to push and support these options. Outside of the U.S., Gameloft Connect  can  become a great added value for our consumers, allowing them to download mobile games  even when their handset is not properly wap configured or when they are traveling out of the reach of their carrier.

[Arjan] When you look at the 20 games you are releasing, which one do you like most and why?

[Michel Guillemot] I might have a special sentimental feeling for Rayman Kart; it’s the old Ubisoft part of me surfacing.

[Arjan] Which handset do you regard best when it comes to a 3D gaming experience?

[Michel Guillemot] For 3D it used to be the Verizon LG 8000, but we’re considering having a new master version. We know it will be Java, but we’re still under discussion to decide which one it will be. For 2D our reference handset is the Sony Ericson W810i.

    2 Responses to “Q&A with Michael Guillemot – President and CEO, Gameloft”

    1. Michael says:

      Working with native programming languages offers a lot more possibilities then just 3D games. <-- Thanks very much Arjan, ... Not a lot of people have this in mind !

    2. Andy Carvell says:

      Great interview, Arjan 🙂 It’s great to see someone cutting to the core of the important issues, asking straight questions and getting answers. Thanks !

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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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