Go Go Games: If you're not making triple-A mobile games, you're going to be in trouble says Epic's Rein
#gogogames Quality bar is rising fast
As might be expected in this context, he was big on the power of triple-A titles to dominate the market - indeed the title for his talk was To Infinity Blade and Beyond: Why Triple-A isn't Going Away.
"Triple-A is different on different platforms," he argued. "Angry Birds is triple-A for mobile."
Similarly, Infinity Blade, developed by Epic subsidiary Chair Entertainment, was designed specifically to push the concept of triple-A on mobile devices.
"We wanted to keep the costs reasonable with a 10 man team, working for six months," Rein said.
"But we also wanted to set the visual quality bar for iOS, and release a great experience at a premium price ($5.99)."
Scream if you want to go faster
But as the gap between budget and top-end titles such as Call of Duty and Gears of Wars has increased on console, he warned the same thing would happen and quicker on mobile.
"DirectX 11 is coming to mobile. We already have the power of Nvidia's Tegra 2 chips, but its Kael-El chip doubles performance and be available in late 2011. The Wayne chip will offer 10 times performance in 2012, while Logan in 2013 will give 25 times performance."
Hence, arguing that while PC and consoles will always have a 10-fold performance advantage over mobile due to power and heat management, the same tools (like Unreal Engine 3) now support all devices, enabling developers to release broadly similar content - scaled down for mobile of course - across them all.
Don't be shy
There are some potential obstacles to this trend though.
Rein said the mobile games industry need to mature quickly in terms of its marketing and promotional campaigns; something especially vital as quality and budgets increase.
"There's limited reach, with little TV or traditional marketing so companies are mainly using price elasticity, freemium models, or incentivised offerwalls to gain audience," he said.
Pointing to a general industry average marketing spend of 13 percent of gross revenue (i.e. $13 million of ad spend for a product grosssing $100 million), he questioned which mobile companies would be the first to spend big on TV.
Of course, there is one company already spending big - Apple.
"Apple spends millions of dollars advertising mobile games, games that look good and push the platform," Rein said.
"It's probably spending more money marketing games than Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft."
Taking all these factors into account, Rein's conclusion was stark: "You won't be competitive if you're not making triple-A mobile games in future."