Gameloft VP: We're developing HTML5 games, will support Windows Phone 8
with Baudouin Corman, Vice President of Publishing for the Americas for Gameloft
The past year has been ripe with partnerships and new initiatives for mobile gaming publisher Gameloft, which passed the 35 million monthly player mark back in March. In the past few months Gameloft announced a partnership with MediaTek to preload games on phones using the latter's chipsets. The French company also inked partnerships with movie studios to bring The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman to iOS and Android, and it secured a deal with toy manufacturer Hasbro to offer mobile titles based on My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop. In addition, Gameloft's first person shooter, N.O.V.A. 3--Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance made Fierce's Best Android apps of 2012.
At the head of Gameloft's publishing efforts in North America and Latin America is Baudouin Corman, the company's VP of publishing for the Americas. Corman, who has been with Gameloft since 2005, recently spoke with FierceMobileContent Associate Editor Sandhya Raman about the company's changing mobile strategy, making titles for different markets and the company's recent licensing partnerships.
FierceMobileContent: Gameloft offers titles for several different platforms. Will you be supporting Windows Phone 8 and Firefox's Boot to Gecko or do you plan to stick to the platforms currently available?
Corman: We were a launch partner for Windows Phone 7, and we'll be a launch partner for Window's Phone 8. We're excited by the platform. We feel that Microsoft is great from a developer standpoint, and we can bring some really advanced games to the platform. The hardware is good. The platform is good. Our impression of the system is good.
At the end of the day, we'll see how many devices they'll move and the success will be measured by how many devices they will sell. We're pretty excited. I think the platform is exciting from a gaming standpoint, and we hope that it will be attractive to the market.
FierceMobileContent: Gameloft offers titles for mobile devices as well as portable consoles like the Nintendo 3DS and PSP. Portable consoles have been losing market share in this space. How will the shifting nature of mobile affect Gameloft's strategy?
Corman: Our main focus is really mobile devices and where we see our biggest growth is smartphones--we will publish our results at the end of the month, but in Q1 we saw 59 percent year-on-year growth in our smartphone category. That's also a place where we can bring innovation.
We've launched this past month some games on feature phones using the free to play model, and we saw good traction there. These feature phones are getting smarter and can now connect to the Internet and have better screens. The line between feature phone and smartphone is blurring a bit.
It's true that in the U.S. the mobile gaming market is a smartphone market, but in emerging countries, smart feature phones have a huge market share. That's a good opportunity for us and something that we're taking advantage of.
If we look at the geography of our revenue, it's coming from Europe and North America, but it's also Asia and Latin America--and in these countries feature phones are still the big share.
FierceMobileContent: Gameloft offers a number of branded games, like the Avengers game and the new Amazing Spiderman game. How did these partnerships come about?
Corman: We've been working with movie licenses for quite a while now. Back in the day when mobile gaming was only on feature phones, we were already bringing these movie titles to the mobile platform with Shrek and King Kong.
We have an ongoing licensing relationship with these studios. We've seen the studios want the games to be at the same quality level as the movie. They want it to add to the experience, and we have proven that we're able to bring the quality they're looking for.
We're really proud of what we've done before and how we've brought these IPs to these platforms. That's why they've been coming back to us.
FierceMobileContent: How does your profitability vary by operating system in terms of Android vs. iOS? Is Gameloft investing more in one vs. the other?
Corman: Most of the games we bring to iOS we bring to Android, if not all of them. What we try to do as much as possible is have a synchronized launch. In terms of usage, we see really strong usage on both platforms. Of course one is still less mature than the other platform. In Q1 we communicated our smartphone and tablet business was 60 percent iOS and 40 percent on Android-based devices. When I say Android-based I mean any Android device, even the Kindle Fire.
Android is very important to us. It's not an 80/10 split. 40 percent is really significant. It really is a strong focus for us.
FierceMobileContent: Gameloft has been involved with a variety of partnerships in the past few months, from producing apps based on Hasbro toys to working with hardware providers like MediaTek to preload games on phones running their chipsets. How are these partnerships going to affect the types of things we are going to see from Gameloft this year and in the future?
Corman: On one side we have licensing deals, and it's quite similar to what we're doing with movie titles. Licensing will still be part of our publishing strategy. That was the case and will still be the case. At the same time, we don't give up on our own IPs. Our own IPs are extremely successful and we want to keep working on Dungeon Hunter, N.O.V.A., etc.
We will keep investing in these Gameloft franchises for the coming years, and we will dedicate a lot of resources to these IPs.
Then, regarding our MediaTek partnership, I think it's interesting because it shows Gameloft's approach to partnering with hardware manufacturers. We have been working with handset manufacturers for a while, and now we're also working with chipset manufacturers. The idea is that this industry is moving quickly, and if we want to bring optimized experiences to the consumer, it's good to go higher in the value change. We're working with MediaTek and Qualcomm and that's really for the benefit of the end-user. We want to optimize our games, and we want to offer the consumer the best possible experience.
FierceMobileContent: How do you see the advent of HTML5-based mobile titles affecting the mobile gaming market? Is HTML5 something we can expect Gameloft to be working with in the future?
Corman: It's true that there is a lot of hype about HTML5, and that has been the case for the last 18 months. That is definitely a technology we're looking closely at. We have some games in development. It's more casual games that are not graphic-intensive.
So we have teams working on HTML5 games. At the same time, what's missing is the ecosystem. We need a shop, billing, traffic and unique features that cannot be done in another ecosystem. I would say the technology is interesting, and we're working on games, but who knows if it will be a major market. There are still pieces that are missing.
In 12 months we'll have a much better picture of this ecosystem. I'm not saying all of the pieces will be in place, but we'll have a much better idea. There are initiatives like Facebook's App Center. We can see where it will go and what kind of traffic it generates.