Week that was

PG.biz week that was: Android gains Zombie Farm and Cut the Rope, EA's after PopCap, Storm8 does 210 million installs, and Nokia reveals MeeGo and Windows phones

PG.biz week that was: Android gains Zombie Farm and Cut the Rope, EA's after PopCap, Storm8 does 210 million installs, and Nokia reveals MeeGo and Windows phones
In a classic case of where did the time go, it has been an exceptionally busy week in the world of PocketGamer.biz; the world of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

As senior game executives Sony's Jack Tretton and Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick spend a lot of time considering the financial viability of their multi-billion dollar organisations. In that context, their less than flattering comments about mobile gaming make some sense.

After all, a God of War or GTA will make more in a single week than all iOS developers make in a year.

Yet, their views display a certain myopia too. At least Zelnick kept his comments financial, saying mobile gaming isn't yet economically meaningful for Take-Two. Tretton was more robust (or rude), comparing mobile games to DIY movies filmed on a camcorder: something that might come back to bite him.

As Appy Entertainment's Paul O'Connor pointed out, at the very least, these attitude demonstrate a lack of new thinking from console incumbents.

The next billion

Not that anyone in the exploding social mobile world has time to worry. They're too busy being successful.

This week, Storm8 proclaimed itself the largest mobile social studio in US with 210 million downloads, mobile portal MocoSpace announced 20 million members, and Talking Friends studio Outfit7 signed a deal with William Morris to get its characters into books, film, TV and on merchandising.

There were also rumours someone - probably EA - is going to buy PopCap for $1 billion, and Google has a vacancy for a product manager to head up its gaming strategy, although its last hire in that area wasn't successful.

We also spoke to TinyCo's Jennifer Lu about its $5 million TinyFund for developers, while XMG's CEO Ray Sharma revealed how the company has successfully switched from a paid to a model based on IAP.

Indeed, appFigures released numbers suggesting freemium titles make up 51 percent of top 25 grossing apps on US App Store.

Attack of the 60 ft robot

Of course, there was a continuing bubbling of news around app stores, with the Chinese App Store now said to be the second biggest behind the US volume-wise, although inconsequential for paid downloads. At least, that shouldn't be an issue in future for the Opera Mobile App Store, which has signed a billing deal with Bango.

A smaller player in the big scheme of app stores, Barnes & Noble doesn't worry explicitly about the volume of titles available for its Android Nook Color tablet. It's more focused on the quality of content and revenue. Still, it revealed it's doubled the amount of available content and had millions of downloads since launch in April.

The Android rocket ship continues to accelerate with ports of many popular iOS games announced this week. Cut the Rope will come to the platform, initially via an exclusive deal with free app store GetJar, Swedish casual publisher G5 Entertainment announced its first Android titles, while Mika Mobile said the Android version of its Battleheart game is generating around 80 percent of the iOS version's daily sales.

The biggest reveal however came from DeNA, ngmoco and their Mobage platform, which will be bringing freemium games Pocket Frogs and Zombie Farm to Android, as well as a freemium version of Infinity Blade to Japan - that's only on iOS though.

And bulking up its developer base, ngmoco will be setting up a new studio in Sweden, with ex-Sony, DICE and EA Easy man Ben Cousins in charge.

Go web, go everywhere

Unpinning this fast-moving crossplatform world are the tools providers. HTML5 is the current top topic, with FunMobility and GameSalad both launching new products. FunMobility is promoting FunChat, HTML5-powered multiplayer tech, while GameSalad unveiled a drag-and-drop HTML5 game creator.

Adobe's Flash Builder and Flex are industry standards for app and web development; they will now get iPhone, iPad and PlayBook support.

The most potentially interesting tools news however came from one-man band Andrew Russell. His work in progress ExEn engine will enable developers to bring games made with Microsoft's XNA framework to iOS, Silverlight and Android.

I am the resurrection

There's was also plenty of news when it came to new hardware.

Nokia surprised everyone by announcing its only MeeGo phone, the much praised N9, closely followed by CEO Stephen Elop leaking video and images of the very similar looking Windows Phone-powered device, codenamed 'See Ray'.

More rumours arose concerning the not yet official Amazon tablet strategy, while RIM apparently has had to slash its internal predictions for PlayBook sales in Q2. (Still, at least I managed to get my PlayBook working with my BT router, so it wasn't all bad news on the BlackBerry front.)

HP had a strong showing, announcing pre-orders for the July roll out for its TouchPad tablet. It also provided details of its weekly Pivot digital magazine that will work as an app discovery platform, while the ex LucasArts staffers at Fearless Studios have signed up to make games for TouchPad.

Still, it's iPad that continues to dominate the landscape, with figures from comScore suggesting it accounts for a minimum of 95 percent of tablet internet traffic.

And that's an awful lot of 'your browser doesn't support Flash' error messages...
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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