Starting a Mobile Studio? Think About This!

February 20th, 2008 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Analysis & Editorial | No Comments »

FinbladeFinblade’s John Chasey and Fergus McNeil discussed the advantages and disadvantages of entering the mobile games industry with a new studio over at GDC Mobile yesterday.


The biggest disadvantage would be the costs of mobile game development, which continue to rise. The past five years, the costs increased tenfold. Also on the porting side, developers have a hard time to get the actual devices they need for proper testing and direct operator deals are nearly impossible to get as operators use publishers nearly all the time. Also, operators will only give big branded mobile games (or the ones with enough marketing power red.) the deckspace needed to trigger sufficient sales. Also, publishers are more and more relying on in-house development of their brands, mostly handled by cheap developers in countries like China. Also, aggregators prove to be a tricky business as developers can only hope that sales are correctly administrated.


But there are also positive sounds for new entrants. New Media companies are looking at how to enter the mobile games industry and require experts to help them bring their concepts to life. The number of Direct to Consumer channels is increasing and ad-funded mobile gaming is about to explode.

What Route to Take

Make sure you position your company well. Even without getting big jobs right away, make sure that the clients you target, know you. Make sure you know exactly which skills your team has and the amount of work it can handle. Make sure that when you get a deal, you can convince the publisher that you know what you are doing so they can worry about their other projects. Also, look very carefully at the cash flow.

Furthermore, McNeil looked at the mindset of the publishers. They have a hard job in the industry as they are at the mercy of the operators. With every project that is pitched by a developer, they have to consider if they will have operators that will grand the mobile game deck placement. Saying no to a project is also always more easy then accepting a mobile game for publishing as internally the game has to be defended to. Financial controllers expect that the game could be gotten cheaper elsewhere and sales might think that another title is much more easy to sell.

So the message is to talk a lot with your clients, start to know them and predict when they could be waiting for your product. Make sure you compete on quality as you can’t beat your competition in price. It is a crazy time to start a mobile games studio, but it might just work out.

The fine details of this keynote at GDC dan be found at GamesOnDeck.

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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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