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Winds of Change: Ben Cousins on Today and the Future
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Winds of Change: Ben Cousins on Today and the Future

March 15, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Sure, there's that precision potentially, but with touch you necessarily have to block what you're doing -- you have to get in your own way. And it can also be quite taxing on your fingers if you have to do a lot of dragging and that sort of thing; it can actually dry up your fingertips really quickly. It's halfway more intuitive, but also more difficult.

BC: Yeah, exactly. There are great advantages -- you get direct manipulation of things, but your hand is in the way. And on console or PC you've got this disconnected interaction with things via a crosshair or via a mouse point, but you're not obscuring things. When people move from product to product there's always a tradeoff, right?

It's a case of, when you add and subtract everything together what's the best experience? And I think that the convenience of mobile and the low price of mobile, and the ubiquity of the content and the connectivity kind of makes up for some of the issues around control and also the slightly lower power in the device.

Moving on from there, earlier you mentioned that you feel like Facebook is decreasingly a viable platform for browser games, as Zynga kind of has that tied up. What do you think is the alternate platform? Is it serving games yourself, or what?

BC: Browser? I don't know if there's anyone serving up something which is interesting in terms of growth. If we compare... for the same development costs you can make a game on mobile, or you could do a game distributed through Steam. I don't see anyone offering a viable alternative.

For me, Facebook Connect integration is extremely valuable, especially as user acquisition becomes more expensive on mobile. Facebook as a social graph and a viral method is going to be very useful for mobile and perhaps console games in the future, but I mean, who's setting up a browser game startup at the moment? There are very, very few people doing that.

And you know, Kongregate were bought, Bigpoint haven't really grown, sites like Miniclip haven't really grown that much, and probably are declining. Jagex haven't had any success since Runescape, Runescape's diminishing, and then you've got Habbo Hotel and the issues that they've had. So I don't see a lot of buzz or interest or excitement around browser games, or anyone really able to offer a viable alternative to Facebook.

Right, though I could foresee individual games being served that way.

BC: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Like if you play World of Warcraft in your browser, then that's a compelling thing. But I do wonder how network and internet caps are going to affect that sort of thing. Do you think that Apple is eventually going to have to or want to give up its Flash ban? Because I think as Facebook grows on mobile -- especially on iOS -- if developers want those games to be served they need Flash, essentially, or porting houses. Unless HTML5 really takes off.

BC: Yeah, and I think if you look at what Apple do when they abandon any proprietary technology -- like they abandoned floppy disks or they abandoned CDs -- I mean from a hardware point of view, Steve Jobs was talking about this a couple of years ago. It's difficult to know whether it's happening with Flash, but they seem to make the right bets when it comes to abandoning things that then become...


BC: Obsolete, was the word I was looking for. So I think it's more likely that's just the influence of Apple not allowing you to access Flash on these fast-moving devices. But also the halo effect, the negative halo effect that that gives Flash, is more likely to just sweep Flash to one side and make HTML5 kind of standard. And we're already starting to see startups doing mobile games, or doing HTML5 games focused on mobile usage that run quite fast on iPads.

There was a bit of a one-two punch with Apple not allowing Flash, and then Adobe being like, "Flash... don't really know what to do with it! It's kind of here; we're not really going to support it that much. But you guys can take it!" It's been like one of Adobe's best, most used things that's not Photoshop, and yet they've never known what to do with it. You know, it's not a platform; it's not precisely a language. It's this weird thing that if they don't keep pushing it I could certainly see it going away.

BC: I mean look at Flash Video -- who is serving Flash Video now? Probably a small minority. And I browse the web on an iPad most of the time, and I very rarely come across video that can't be played. Even on all of the web sites, all of the gaming web sites that you assume are mostly being touched by a PC or a Mac, and I think that that transition will probably happen with games. I wouldn't make a game in Flash, even if I was making a browser game.

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