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Spil Games' CEO Peter Driessen on one year of anytime, anywhere mobile gaming with HTML5

From foundations to a seamless future in the cloud
Spil Games' CEO Peter Driessen on one year of anytime, anywhere mobile gaming with HTML5

Spil Games' HTML5-powered mobile gaming sites have just celebrated their first birthday.

Our philosophy has always embraced the spirit of free, accessible fun for our players on any platform, whether from behind a desktop computer at work or on the run with a mobile phone.

This is why we saw something special in browser-based mobile gaming; recognising the revolutionary potential in HTML5 - a set of technologies poised to challenge the dominance of native apps in the gaming industry by offering browser-based games for any device.

The technology is key in Spil Games' mission to unite the world in play.

Spil Games' mobile sites now boast 74 games playable across a range of devices. The cross-platform nature of HTML5 means the same game can be accessed by iPhone, Android, or any smartphone with an up-to-date browser.

Only way is up

Still, despite this being one of the largest portals for mobile gaming, it's only the beginning.

The past year has been about building the foundation. Our ultimate goal is cloud gaming, which will allow players to switch seamlessly between devices. For that to become reality, a strong cross-platform foundation is needed first, and we're working on just that.

Our mobile platforms currently feature a careful selection of fun games for smartphones and other portable devices, with players on mobile devices automatically rerouted to the HTML5 version of their favourite site. The recent addition of social features, such as friends and an activity feed, serve to enhance the user experience.

We're experimenting with our mobile sites, finding out what works and what doesn't, and acting fast on what we learn.

HTML5 use has definitely been picking up, with browsers rapidly adopting the specification, but we're waiting for consumers to update their browsers. HTML5 isn't ideal for out-of-date browsers, which is what a sizeable chunk of the population still uses.

So, in order to ensure players on any device have access to games wherever they are, regardless even of internet connection, we still make content for native apps as well.

So while we currently have a hybrid mobile strategy, developing both HTML5 content and native apps, browser vendors are opening up to HTML5. It will take browser-based games time to catch up to the quality level of Flash, but the future looks bright.

Learning the ropes

Exciting trends are emerging. We've had time to study the behaviour of our mobile players, and start a dialogue with them. A Game Jam co-hosted with Google and a subsequent HTML5 game development contest got the creative juices flowing, teaching Spil about HTML5 best practices

The most successful mobile games are simple and easy-to-play while out-and-about. Puzzle games, dress-up games, and quizzes are popular favourites. iPad use - particularly by young girls - has shot up. We have discovered that mobile users come back to play more often than desktop users.

We're busy leveraging our audience of 130 million through cross promotion. Banner ads and site takeovers let players know some of their favourite games are available on their cell phones too.

Building upwards

Now a foundation is in place, our plan is to put more emphasis on marketing the mobile sites and to invest seriously in the testing and in-house development of HTML5 games. We've built an infrastructure we're proud of, and we want to make it more visible and acquire users.

I predict that some 10 percent of Spil Games' user base will go mobile within the next year - that's 13 million players. We also expect mobile game quality to get better and better, especially if that content is cross-platform.

We stand by the idea that people like to play games anytime, anywhere, on any platform, and our strategy reflects that.

Spil's support of browser-based mobile gaming and HTML5 goes beyond just developing games, and dips into mindset.

Transitioning as a company toward a cross-platform gaming experience, all players will need is a browser … and all we will need is one platform to unite them.