What does Kongregate's mobile push mean for developers?
Kongregate may be one of the front-runners of browser games at the moment, but the company isn't planning to be left behind when it comes to the mobile game boom.
The GameStop-owned organization today announced a $10 million mobile game fund
, with which it plans to help smaller studios get a foothold into the busy and competitive mobile space.
Developers who qualify for the funding will receive cash advances to cover development costs, while Kongregate will also promote funded games via its game portal, the GameStop mobile apps, and GameStop's social media outlets.
Jim Greer, co-founder of Kongregate, assures me today that the company's mobile business will play out very much by the same rule book that Kongregate has always abided by.
"Like Kongregate on the web, we're going to be doing a percentage of the royalties," he says. "But we will never take a developer's IP. We're just going to be acting as a publisher."
This isn't the first time Kongregate has made a move to mobile. In 2010, the company partnered with Adobe to bring Kongregate's Flash-based web games to Android. That initiative was sidelined after Adobe said it would stop Flash Player support in favor of native app development and HTML5.
As for who should be looking to apply for Kongregate's new funding initiative, the company is sticking to what it knows best, as it intends to attract the same sorts of core game developers that its web portal currently sees. More specifically, Kongregate wants to bring genres like RPGs, and strategy games to mobile.
Adds Panayoti Haritatos, the former Zynga general manager who is now heading up Kongregate's mobile endeavors, "Having said that, we know that core gamers also play puzzle games and other genres as well, so I think that the strategy will centre around things that are uniquely suited to that audience."
And when it comes to dishing the money out, Greer says that this will be tackled on "a case-by-case basis."
"I think we're going to be working with a lot of smaller developers," he says, adding that the money provided will be "based on what we need to do to drive the best results for the developers we work with."
"We'll be working with fewer developers and going deeper with them," he notes. "Long-term, when we're got the business going, we're foreseeing that we'll be shipping one or two titles a month. It's very much a quality versus quantity approach."
A dog-eat-dogfood world
Kongregate also announced it has launched its own in-house mobile game development team, headed up by Haritatos who will help Kongregate get a better handle on the inner-workings of mobile game development.
"The internal development at this point really is more an eating our own dog food sort of effort, to make sure that the platform we're offering really works," Haritatos explains. "Also it's a way of understanding mobile better, since what we really know best is the web. But yeah, I'd say that 98 percent of our efforts is about external publishing relationships. We have a tiny team internally."
Adds Haritatos, "For the foreseeable future, my focus will be entirely on the publishing, because that's really what resonates with the Kongregate vision. The focus is really going to be on publishing."
Although he does note, "If we decide to do it more heavily, then I will lead that effort."
Browser games aren't working out so well for certain other companies. Facebook and Zynga are both experiencing a decline in browser game engagement, and are both subsequently shifting over to mobile. Is this what's happening at Kongregate too?
"It's not the same sort of situation, in that we're still growing really strongly on the web, but we are seeing that our players are playing more and more on both platforms," answers Emily Greer, Kongregate's other co-founder.
She adds, "Mobile is just the next place that people are playing, and if they are having that kind of experience, then we want to be able to suit their needs there as well. We've been concentrating very much on building a web business, and we're still doing that - but we looked around and saw an opportunity to help our players discover games on mobile devices, as it's not always the easiest place to do that."
Haritatos says, "Even for games that are only on mobile, you see web communities forming," he notes. "Even with tablet games, if you want to communicate with the other people in your guild, web communities form.
"We think we can be an especially good partner for that kind of game, because obviously we have a web hub which can provide profiles and forums, that sort of thing."
Interested parties should visit the Kongregate Mobile Developers website