Ad mediation firm Appodeal surprised many when it acquired Corona Labs and its 2D game engine in March.
The deal, the size of which was undisclosed, saw Corona Labs continue to operate as its own entity.
In fact, the only major change introduced by Appodeal so far has been the move to make the Enterprise edition of the Corona SDK available free of charge.
To find out more about the motivations behind the move and Appodeal's long-term ambitions for Corona, PocketGamer.biz reached out to Corona Labs' new CEO Stepan Solovyov.
A founding member of Appodeal, Solovyov was responsible for the firm's business development and developer relations in Russian and CIS markets prior to this new role as head of Corona Labs.
PocketGamer.biz: Acquiring a game engine developer is a departure from what Appodeal is known for. What was the thinking behind the move?
Stepan Solovyov: Appodeal is a publisher-centric company: we love developers and build our product to make their lives easier.
Corona Labs also has the same DNA as Appodeal - to make life easier for developers. The Corona SDK is the most convenient development platform for 2D applications today, with a great community which is very friendly, supportive and well-organised.
Because of the Lua language and a huge amount of guides or tutorials, it’s easy to start to developing games on Corona.
As Appodeal and Corona Labs have the same attitude, we see huge potential for both companies.Stepan Solovyov
Corona is a great cross-platform choice for casual 2D games and applications. As Appodeal and Corona Labs have the same attitude, we see huge potential for both companies in this acquisition.
Why did you decide to make the Enterprise edition of the Corona SDK free?
We believe that the future belongs to free and open-source software. Nowadays, mobile app development is concentrated mostly in the hands of small studios and indie teams who could hardly be called 'Enterprise'.
Less than 15% of Corona's current revenue comes from Enterprise accounts.
This is why we decided to rethink Corona Labs' business model and make it more open and convenient for current market needs.
It is early days to declare something more specific, but I can say for certain that the development platform itself will be free.
With the Corona framework, a developer is able to build a game at zero cost, and we continue to develop the platform, primarily its technological part.
The monetisation will be based on the service around the applications: for instance, the marketplace and premium support options.
With Corona Labs still able to develop relationships with other ad platforms and allowing developers to implement any monetisation they choose, how will Appodeal benefit?
At the moment, Corona Labs has its plugins and solutions for any app monetisation strategy - we work with every major ad network.
However, the relationships with these monetisation services are unclear for Corona users. We are going to make it more transparent for developers.
Corona, as well as Appodeal, will continue to develop the partnerships with the ad networks to get the most profitable conditions for the framework users.
Former CEO Pavel Golubev said "there should be more opportunities to develop mobile games of high quality on the market". Do you feel opportunities at present are restricted?
Corona is a great game development framework and it offers truly everything you need to develop a game for all the major mobile platforms.
We are going to remove the unnecessary barriers.Stepan Solovyov
The Corona community is very welcoming and open to educating the newcomers, but developers have to buy the Enterprise version to add the additional features like native libraries or analytics.
This limits the Corona framework usage and its audience. We are going to remove the unnecessary barriers that prevent the platform from achieving an organic growth of its user base.
Do you expect to see more ad companies taking an interest in the game engine business going forward?
Yes, I do. I believe we’ll see a lot of similar partnerships in 2017 because both parts, the ad networks and the game engines, are interested in it.