Interview

Cross-platform plans: Cmune's Bodin on bringing Facebook FPS UberStrike to iOS and Android

Cross-platform plans: Cmune's Bodin on bringing Facebook FPS UberStrike to iOS and Android
The best time to raise venture capital is when you don't need to raise venture capital.

That was the subtext of developer Cmune's announcement it had closed its second funding round, adding DCM's Android-focused A-Fund to its initial funder Atomico.

"We didn't want to do a round but it worked out well. One of the partners' sons was a big fan of UberStrike," says Cmune CEO Ludovic Bodin.

As well as additional cash, the deal gives the company greater access to markets in China, Korea and Japan, and presence in Silicon Valley.

Not that Cmune is lacking in global presence (or cash).

On Facebook, its free-to-play first-person shooter has over 10 million registered players, and the Beijing-based developer is now bringing the game to iOS and Android, following its successful Mac OS launch, which gained over a million downloads.

Shooting from the hip

Of course, the first-person shooter is a genre that has not yet performed well on touchscreen devices, either in terms of paid or free-to-play releases, although not for lack of attempts.

It's something Bodin readily acknowledges, although he's keen also to point to the positives.

"Gameloft's Modern Combat 4 did well at the end of 2012," he says.

"But where we're thinking differently is that it was a premium-priced, single player-focused release. The real potential is for free-to-play multiplayer-focused games."

Barriers of entry

Underpinning Cmune's assault on the market is its proprietary platform, which it's designed so it can develop and deploy real-time multiplayer games.

But successfully releasing a title like UberStrike is more than just about technical issues.

"Running this sort of game fully cross-platform is very difficult. That's what everyone told us, and that's what we found," Bodin laughs of the process to bring the PC game to iOS and Android.

Still, the mobile version of UberStrike will technically be fully cross-platform at launch, but with touchscreen players playing on mobile-only servers, rather than attempting to mix it up with the mouse-and-keyboard set.

On the PC version, strafe-jumping remains the main mode of movement; something that can't be so easily pulled off on touchscreen - even though Cmune has come up with what it calls it ‘FPS touch keyboard’, which makes it easier for players to strafe and shoot at the same time.

"Gameplay is different on a touchscreen. I think it's more accessible," Bodin points out.

Second screens

What is important in terms of cross-platform reach, however, is Cmune is running the same underlying UberStrike service across all platforms, so players access their accounts and weapons load-outs, as well as guilds and game chat no matter if they're playing on Facebook, Mac, iOS or Android.

To that extent, expanding the game to more platforms is all about growing a unified community.

"Once we dominate first-person shooters, then we'll think about moving onto other genres," Bodin says.
editor-at-large

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.

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