Interview

IUGO's Sarah Thomson is extremely optimistic about Windows Phone 7

Took just two weeks to port Implode!

IUGO's Sarah Thomson is extremely optimistic about Windows Phone 7
While lots of developers are backing Windows Phone 7 with one launch release, those stumping up two or more titles are rarer.

One such is Canadian developer IUGO, which has Zombie Attack! Second Wave and Implode! XL ready to go.

Yet – as business development VP Sarah Thomson attests – it wasn't just the apparent ease of working with Microsoft's OS that attracted the studio to the format, but also its willingness to put its money where its mouth is.

We caught up with Sarah to get her views on Microsoft and its new platform. 

Pocket Gamer: How did you get involved with Windows Phone 7?

Sarah Thomson: We were approached in May this year by Microsoft. It expressed an interest in our original iPhone games and wanted to bring over premium games to Windows Phone 7.

Having read articles about the device and OS previews - which sounded promising - and seeing Microsoft's sincerity in supporting smaller indie devs such as IUGO, we were enthusiastic to jump on board.

We narrowed the titles down to Implode! and Zombie Attack! Second Wave.

What is the platform like to work with?

Firstly, we are very lucky to have one of the most skilled teams in the world. With our seven years of experience on mobile platforms of all kinds and the team using our proprietary, platform agnostic technologies, it was a pleasure to work on the WP7 platform.

Just to give you an example; it took two weeks to bring the initial Implode! build over to the new platform.

We, of course, have spent the rest of the time customising, tweaking, polishing and implementing Xbox Live features since then.

What opportunities does Windows Phone 7 offer?

We are very excited and honoured to be a part of the select Xbox Live enabled games available at the launch of WP7.

This sort of exclusivity and exposure is a huge part of IUGO's potential success on the platform. With Microsoft's enormous marketing power and sheer brand strength supporting us, we feel extremely optimistic about the OS's success.

In the beginning, Microsoft proved its dedication to the WP7 platform by financially investing in developers to bring our games to the platform. A lot of companies love to talk a big game but to us this really showed it was serious about competing the smartphone space.

On a personal note for IUGO, this was an exciting accomplishment in seeing such demand and support for our content.

As we all know the mobile games industry is extremely challenging. To come out of relative obscurity right after our first iPhone game launched and now to have our content in demand across multiple mobile platforms is humbling and fantastic.

Do you think Windows Phone 7's emphasis on games will give it an advantage over other smartphones?

Absolutely. It was part of the draw for us to get involved with WP7. We are big believers in multiplatform, convergent gaming. We feel Microsoft is going to give itself a huge edge here.

The Xbox Live features implemented into Implode! and Zombie Attack! Second Wave are a natural fit and are gelling really well with each title.

How would you say it compares to the likes of iPhone and Android?

To use Implode! as an example again, wow it runs smoothly on WP7.

Any sort of minor lagging or jerky movements that happened on iPhone are totally gone. We're hoping to bring Implode! over to Android in the future so at this point I can’t make a direct comparison there.

To reiterate, seeing as our team kicks ass and multiple platforms are second nature around here, iPhone, Android and WP7 are all great to work with. We'll continue to develop for all three.

Do you think the smartphone market is becoming too crowded?

Competition is always good for users and developers. It gives both the freedom to pick and choose which platforms to patronise.

As a small developer however, we must be quite selective as to which platforms we invest into. A couple of wrong choices and IUGO could be in big trouble.

We are looking forward to seeing how our WP7 titles perform. As far as other platforms such as bada and MeeGo, I would encourage them to take a similar path as Microsoft - hunt down developers whose games you love and support them.

If your platform is good and your efforts are sincere, you’re off to a great start in building a successful platform with killer content.

 

Any future plans for Windows Phone 7?

 

If Implode! and Zombie Attack! Second Wave perform well we’ll most certainly bring more games over. For now it’s a wait and see game.
Thanks to Sarah for her time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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