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Paris-headquartered Gameloft has become a force in the mobile market. While it's been accused of shameless copying -- a charge discussed later on in this interview -- it's also very shrewdly targeted the space with a variety of titles of surprising complexity and variety. It's also reaped the rewards as both casual and hardcore audiences play those very same games.
While it primarily focuses on the iOS and Android spaces, the company has also branched out to portable consoles -- primarily with downloadable titles, but with a few retail games as well. All the while, the company has kept in mind the target of becoming the market leader in mobile games.
In this interview, Gonzague de Vallois, the company's senior vice president of publishing, discusses how the company intends to pursue this vision, and offers his opinion on mobile market trends, discusses his company's dalliances in the handheld console space, and explains how the success of "paymium" MMO Order & Chaos was surprising for the company -- and whether it intends to launch its own social mobile network to compete with Mobage or OpenFeint.
Gameloft has become a real force on the mobile side.
GDV: Yeah. We've been in the mobile space for quite some time. But I think the mobile space is getting bigger now, a bigger part of the real video game industry -- as the smartphones are walking a bit on the streets of portable video game consoles, and everything.
Then again, you also support Nintendo's portable consoles, and also home consoles, with downloadable product.
GDV: Yeah. Everything that's digital, we tend to support it, as long as it makes sense. We are on PSN, DSiWare, 3DSWare now. We do also satellite boxes, and TV gaming. So we did a deal with Panasonic so you can play directly on your TV. So everything that's digital, that's part of our range -- as long as it's mass market accessible.
That's your real goal? Mass market accessible gaming?
GDV: Yeah -- that's the vision of the company at the beginning. It's true that the play from the beginning has been mobile. Our CEO's vision when he created the company, 11 years ago now, was that mobile devices would become the most mass market gaming console available worldwide. It's starting to be true with the smartphones that allow, I would say, a real gaming experience. So yes, mass market digital, that's our motto.
How would you define the company strategy?
GDV: Our goal is, as we reach the mass market, a wide audience, we try to cover all the genres. So from MMORPG to solitaire -- it's true that there are very different genres. We are publishing a good number of titles with a very strong focus on quality.
Even more for casual titles, we think that quality is expected by consumers, because they don't forgive much. Whereas hardcore gamers can understand, sometimes, the constraints on the platforms, and they can be more patient. So quality, diversity. It's true that we've been releasing a number of titles in the last years.
Order & Chaos
So you have had, to an extent, some games that are a little bit more hardcore -- your MMO, Order & Chaos, is a really interesting title to talk about.
GDV: It's true that our DNA -- many of our guys on our creative teams are coming from the video game industry, so our DNA is more gamer type of games, but they're still designed to be accessible to a wider audience.
Order & Chaos is maybe our most hardcore type of title, and it's a pretty innovative one on the smartphone and tablet platforms. And yes, it has been doing really well, and it's still doing really well for us, and we have a strong community. And we are updating it -- updating the game every month or so, to bring new environments, new features.
Were you surprised by the success of that title?
GDV: Particularly surprised, yes, because it's a game genre that is generally pretty niche, and for big fans that want a very thorough experience, very deep experience on a big screen, and everything, and we were happily surprised. I think the game is very well done, so I wouldn't say that we did a sub-MMORPG, but we were happily surprised by the how warmly welcomed the title was.
And it's also successful from a business perspective?
GDV: Yeah, it's interesting, from a business perspective. If you compare to, say, World of Warcraft, which is the very big brother and the big leader in the field, what we are bringing in terms of business is very, very small. But in the smartphone gaming ecosystem, it's a good success. The game has been ranked in the top -- early days, in the top 10 -- but now it's stabilizing around the top 40 on the App Store in the U.S. It's doing well, also, on the Android marketplace. In other markets it's even ranked higher, so yeah. It's a strong success.
Is that in the revenue ranking?
GDV: Yeah, the revenue ranking -- the top grossing.