Interview

10 years of Pocket Gamer: Gamevil's Kyu Lee on moving from Skipping Stone to core RPG success

Back in the days of BREW

10 years of Pocket Gamer: Gamevil's Kyu Lee on moving from Skipping Stone to core RPG success

As Pocket Gamer celebrates its tenth birthday this month, we're sharing the memories of those who have been in the mobile games industry for as long as we have.

That's back when the iPhone was but a futuristic fantasy, and the closest you could get to social mobile gaming was via WAP.

Today, we're talking to Kyu Lee, who being working at Korean developer and publisher Gamevil for as long as Pocket Gamer has been around.

He's now president of Gamevil USA.

PocketGamer.biz: What were you doing in mobile/games 10 years ago?

Kyu Lee: GAMEVIL just opened our US office in El Segundo in Feb 2006.

After working a variety of different publishers like Hands On Mobile, i-Play etc, we decided to self publish, and we were busy getting contracts with Verizon and AT&T.

What was the hot mobile technology/hardware back then?

Mobile was still extremely fragmented between Java and BREW, and we had to port to hundreds of devices and also get them all certified separately, making deployment itself a lot of work.

If I remember correctly, Verizon's BREW platform was probably the most lucrative at that point, and we were moving away from the candy bar phones to the clamshell phones.

Can you remember any games you were playing?

I remember playing our game Skipping Stone published by i-Play, which were one-button games, CBS Sportsline Baseball which we published with Hands-On Mobile.

The height of one-button mobile gaming in 2006 - Skipping Stone

Back then, you needed licenses in order to be successful where Tetris was the largest IP available, and I remember being pretty impressed with Splinter Cell made by Gameloft too.

Did you always think mobile games could/would become the widest global gaming sector?

Yes, we always thought the business would breakthrough one day cause we were starting to see phones slowly getting bigger and more important to everyone's daily life.

We always thought the business would breakthrough one day.

But honestly, it's quite an achievement if you look back on what the industry has accomplished within the past 10 years. The iPhone pretty much changed everything.

What do you think has been the most significant event in mobile gaming during the past 10 years?

The release of the iPhone and App Store.

What have been your favourite mobile games over the past 10 years?

Of our games, I've played Baseball Superstars, ZENONIA, Cartoon Wars, Air Penguin and Dungeon Link a lot.

Of other company games, Fieldrunners, Plants vs Zombies. Flight Control, Real Racing, Puzzle & Dragon and Respawnables bring back good memories.

Looking to the future, what are you working on now?

We're bringing a lot of high-end games to the market right now. The development budget and time has increased significantly too.

We'll continue to serve the male-targeted midcore and hardcore demographic.

We'll continue to serve the male-targeted midcore and hardcore demographic in the mobile gaming space for a while.

More generally, what games are you looking forward to?

I wish there were more category breakthroughs, instead of me-toos. As the development budgets increase, I'm a bit concerned that more companies will take less risk.

All of us know that the real breakthroughs like Angry Bird, Clash of Clans, Puzzle & Dragon and Clash Royale come from doing something more original.

How do you think the mobile games industry will change over the next 10 years?

I believe hardware and network infrastructure will continue to bring more innovation as it has for the past decade.

MMORPGs and real time network games have already been making a big dent, and AR/VR will be interesting to watch in 2026. The definition of "mobile" will become very blur soon.

Finally, do you have a favourite Pocket Gamer memory you'd like to share?

All the parties at every conference that Pocket Gamer held were great for meeting new people in the industry!

I remember making a bet on Ronaldo moving back to Manchester United at one of the parties, and ending up sponsoring a PG party 'cause I lost.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz 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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