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#GDC 2013: Sony, Nintendo and Apple should be very worried about Android's rise, says PlayJam's Smith

#GDC 2013: Sony, Nintendo and Apple should be very worried about Android's rise, says PlayJam's Smith
With a title - The Future of Mobile Gaming - not to mention a panel of seven experts, much was expected from ARM's session on Thursday afternoon at GDC 2013 in San Francisco.

This was provoked by moderator Jason Della Rocca, from accelerator Execution Labs, who asked each panelist to kick off with a single statement about the future of mobile gaming.

David Helgason, CEO at Unity reminded us that mobile is growing 7 times faster than the PC market.

Baudouin Corman, Gameloft's VP publishing, Americas said the company was looking forward to bringing games to 10 billion mobile devices.

Next up was Michael Ludden, from Samsung's US developer relations. "The future of gaming is mobile," he said. "There are going to be amazing synergies between mobile, PC and smart TVs.

Niccolo De Masi, CEO at Glu Mobile is looking to the four screen future. He said Glu is focused on great core gameplay, higher and higher production values, incredible reach in terms of geography and devices, and great monetisation systems.

Jasper Smith, CEO of PlayJam (GameStick), said innovation is going beyond mobile, with Android coming to TVs, set top boxes and watches, especially in the Chinese market.

Nizar Romdan, director of ecosystem, ARM, was looking forward to gaming on any connected screen (especially those using ARM chips).

Finally, Chris Doran, COO at real-time graphics expert, Geomerics said 'I want be big, bold, expensive games, not to play monetisation experiments'.

The induction problem

Jason Della Rocca bought up the induction problem saying the triple-A console business has been in decline, so will mobile fall into the same problem over time.

De Masi said that consumer taste will always desire such high-end experiences, and anyhow the audience is getting bigger.

"The wow factor is part of the human experience," he said.

Doran even argued that the triple-A console business wasn't in decline. "Its growth has slowed, but it's a very successful business, and you don't have to find your audience [that's anyone with a console] as you have to do in mobile."

Baudouin Corman said the future didn't have to be top end graphics. Growth could also be about local conditions, and cultural games.

Helgason built on this theme, saying that there are plenty of top 10 charts around the world, in different countries and platforms, in which developers can make a lot of money.

Also, he said, as Noah Bushell (Atari founder) pointed out, games have the fastest half-life of any media content.

"This means the guys who create content are always relevant, rather than the content aggregators as in movies and music," Helgason said.

Ethics of F2P

Then the panel argued about the ethics of the free-to-play business, with Doran brining up the issue of children racking up large bills on their parents' credit cards without their knowledge.

"But it's how the consumers want to play," said Corman.

He added that Gameloft is now spending 18 months to develop its titles.

De Masi said Glu was faster. "We're aiming to have 15-20 people working on a game for less than 12 months," he said.

In terms of cost per title, he said it was around $1-2 million, taking into account development and other services and infrastructure costs.

Disruption is coming

Taking about business disruption, De Masi said that Glu is very disruptive for the console business.

"We're bringing current generation console graphics to mobile devices now. The future is clearly digital distribution."

"If you were sitting in Sony or Nintendo, you'd be pretty worried about the wave of Android dominance," said Jasper Smith.

"It's [the console space] is worth $50 billion per year, but it's an eroding market. Over 50 percent of GameStop's revenue now comes from traded games.

"And I think Apple is going to be in a pretty touch space too."

Chris Doran took another view.

"If I was sitting in Sony, I'd be confident. I'd be worried if I was at Nintendo, but the content for PlayStation 4 is quite mindblowing," he said.

"And Android is terrible for graphics. Google doesn't put the love into graphics."

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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