Interview

Whether you're a triple-A dev or a cash-strapped indie, we want to work with you, says Red Robot Labs

Whether you're a triple-A dev or a cash-strapped indie, we want to work with you, says Red Robot Labs
"This is our first step towards our goal of becoming the Steam of mobile," proclaimed Red Robot Labs CEO Mike Ouye as the company announced plans to expand third party publishing on its R2 platform.

Bold words, to be sure, but the company's backing its location-based platform expansion with $2 million.

It's also commited to provide funding and revenue share options to interested third party developers, as well as access to Red Robot's tech and expertise.

To find out more about the kind of developers Red Robot is hoping to work with, the future of location-based games and exactly what they mean by 'the Steam of mobile', we caught up with Mike Ouye and Pete Hawley – respectively Red Robot Labs' CEO and chief product officer.

Pocket Gamer: What sort of game will be appropriate for the R2 platform, and what sort of third parties are you hoping to partner with?

Mike Ouye: We're looking for talented, creative developers who are passionate about making location-based games. We're looking to fill out many different types of games genres – competitive RPGs, fast twitch arcade games, RTS, etc.

If you want to build awesome games, we want to talk to you.

Pete Hawley: These three development teams – Box of Robots, ShortRound and 50 Cubes – came to us with great game ideas, which fit perfectly with location. A global alien invasion, an international zombie plague and a game that makes an awesome use of our POI index for another audience.

The teams have great track records and loads of talent. Phones and tablets are getting more powerful and players' expectations are rising. We are actively seeking developers who have experience in shipping highly polished triple-A games.

You're offering funding as well as revenue sharing options. How can developers expect these to work?

MO: We're taking this on a case-by-case basis and working closely with teams to explore the best ways to work together.

We're very developer-friendly since we're a developer as well. We're very committed to the indie gaming community and open to funding development while also driving development from a product, marketing and technology point of view.

Design, discovery and scale are the three big issues teams come to us for - they don't want to invest in the required team size and infrastructure, they just want to create.





Pete Hawley and Mike Ouye

Location-based games have been the 'next big thing' in mobile gaming for quite some time. Your $2 million investment suggests that you still think there's plenty of earning potential in the concept…

MO: We're obviously very excited and committed to location-based gaming. It presents a lot of hard problems and challenges, but I believe it represents a significant amount of upside in terms of monetisation, engagement and discovery.

We'd like to accelerate the whole space by offering technology and expertise that we've gained while building our own games to help address these challenges.

PH: 'The next big thing' is relative. We develop around location because it's creatively and technically challenging, and it's our passion. I'd say we came to specialise in this sector early. Life is Crime has been very successful for us and continues to be as we push out to new territories.

Creatively I'm more excited about location in gaming, more than when we started. We're still big believers of the potential of location-based games, not just because of the success of our first game, but because of what we've been building over the last 12 months, creatively, technically and most importantly, the knowledge we've gained listening to our players and looking at our data.

We've seen what works and experienced some pain points on location.

How do you envison the future of location-based mobile gaming?

PH: Great question, because our attitude about this has changed a lot in the last 12 months. Looking back, a lot of what we (and many of our competitors) talked about was, "there has to be more to location gaming than checking in."

In hindsight, there was some truth in that, but it wasn't the complete picture. If gameplay and social play are all about exploration, discovery and reward, then we should be more focused on exploring an alternative world, but one based on real geo data.

The idea of games as escapism becomes more relevant if you're in a new city and you play our games to offer an alternate reality to the one you see around you. A San Francisco or London that is geographically and structurally similar but based in a parallel fantasy alternative world is one example.

We've stripped out distance and block-to-block gameplay as a limiting friction point and now we're more focused on uniting players through virtual travel and exploring new places.

In our new game that we're revealing at PAX for example, you can travel to New York and view the streets, head to the mountains of Canada to fight new monsters, encounter players and find unique content there.

Go to Japan, engage with new players, buy content that's only available in Japan, then come back to the US and show off the benefits of reaching out to everyone who plays. When you escape where you live, it's not just about the leaderboard of your favorite coffee shop any more.

We've broadened our horizons and stripped out a lot of friction points that our players didn't like. It's been pretty liberating.

You've publicly said that Red Robot's goal is to become the Steam of mobile. What exactly do you mean by that?

MO: We believe that location is going to be the next interest graph for discovery and content.

Everyone knows that discovery of great games is an issue on mobile outside of charts or big money spends. We're thinking beyond the charts in the app store and how we can push discovery and delivery of new content on mobile.

Steam has always done a tremendous job of this on the desktop. This goal is really related to the way we think about our tools, the gaming community, and potential for distributing content in the future along the location graph.
Thanks to Mike and Pete for their time.

If you're interested in learning more about Red Robot Labs or the R2 platform, take a look at the company's website or drop them a line at 
developers [at] redrobotlabs [dot] com
Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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