Too many mobile games are just monetisation systems, reckons new entrant S2

Too many mobile games are just monetisation systems, reckons new entrant S2
Known for its successful online PC MOBA game Heroes of Newerth, US developer S2 is now getting into mobile.

So having relocated offices and doubled its headcount during 2012, the Kalamazoo, MI-based outfit is looking to fill more empty seats as its Unity-focused mobile studio iGames gets up to speed.

Its aim is to hit the sweetspot between "casual and experienced players while growing S2's vision of online multiplayer gaming".

We caught up with director of mobile Brad Bower to find out how it plans to break into a highly competitive market.

Pocket Gamer: Given that it's known for its online PC games, why is S2 now moving into mobile?

Brad Bower: We see a number of huge opportunities in mobile right now. Mobile has created a whole new class of gamer, many of whom have no idea what else is out there in the PC or console space.

We are looking at what's in the market and seeing so many games that are really better described as systems rather than games. We want to introduce these mobile players to gameplay they may not even be aware they are missing.

Additionally, there are a number of games that focus too heavily on monetising and not enough on bringing fun and engaging gameplay to their players. We're setting out to change that.

Why do you think the sort of games you make will perform well on mobile?

We are looking to expand beyond the types of games people typically associate with us. There are lessons we have learned about what players like and making genuinely fun and memorable games, and we’re applying those to the mobile platform.

Making and deploying games for mobile devices is very different to online/PC so how are you looking to staff up iGames?

We are building a brand new team of professionals who are passionate and experienced in the mobile industry.

We are currently in the process of hiring for nearly every position and are looking for people who are excited for the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something huge.

What countries will you focus on?

Initially, we will be focusing primarily on North America, but we have plans to expand quickly through Europe and Asia.

What balance will you be looking for in terms of your mobile releases - companion apps for your existing online PC games or new just-for-mobile experiences?

We are looking at new just-for-mobile experiences primarily. Companion apps are certainly a possibility, but they are not the main focus of iGames.

We are focused on taking mobile games to the next level in terms of gameplay and depth.

As a PC developer, how important do you think Windows 8/Windows Phone will be for your future releases?

We are excited to see everything Windows 8/Windows Phone has to offer. We will be using the Unity engine, so we will be looking closer at Windows 8 when Unity enables its support.

More generally, what's your view on the shift to the free-to-play model and how will you be looking to leverage that, especially in terms of your mobile releases?

We believe strongly in the free-to-play model. We have learned a lot through our past experiences as a company and are firm believers in the benefits that everyone receives from the free-to-play model.

We have also learned the importance of creating a fun game that can be enjoyed without being forced to pay. You can count on our games being enjoyable with or without purchasing.

The PVP sector on mobile is very competitive at the moment with the likes of Supercell, Kabam, Mobage, GREE etc. How do you think you'll compete?

The PVP sector is most certainly competitive. For the titles we choose to go the PVP route with, we will compete by creating games that are entertaining to play and do not hinder the player who doesn't have hundreds of dollars to spend.

So many of the PVP titles that exist right now really end up punishing the player who is not consistently spending, especially as you progress further into the game. We feel that is the wrong mentality to take with mobile games and will be steering away from that.

Thanks to Brad for his time.

You can check out what jobs iGames currently has open here.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.


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The monetisation mechanic is just as important as the game mechanic. You need to get both right.
Whilst pay to win is wrong and, ultimately, stupid, players must have routes by which they can invest in enhancing their gaming experience. Done properly they will want to pay for this. There will be a demand. It is up to the developer to have the mechanics in the game to meet this demand.
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