A couple years ago, the mobile market only really had two types of apps and games: free or paid. Now users are presented with free, free with ads, free with in-app purchases, paid, paid with free updates, and paid with paid updates among others.
That difference has created a new industry. BulkyPix‘s, COO and VP of Sales and Marketing, Vincent Dondaine answered some questions about development, games, and commerce.
BulkyPix publishes many different game genres. Is there any particular direction the company goes when looking at potential new games?
- We have definitely made the conscious decision to focus on social games based primarily around the freemium model. The market has definitely evolved from when the iPhone App Store first burst onto the scene.
Today’s players have become far more open to spending money on a game now that they have the opportunity to try for free; once they’ve found that they really enjoy the game and are engaged with it, they can then pay to extend their game experience rather than having to pay for it from the beginning and take the risk that they won’t like it (or that it might not perform well on their device).
That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have other kinds of game-cost models on occasion. We are still very attentive to finding the perfect approach for each title.
The Android market is quickly expanding with a lot more apps; is BulkyPix looking to expand into it with phones and tablets?
- Definitely, we are already headed down that path. A number of Bulkypix games will be available on Android before the end of the year, like Saving Private Sheep, Babel Rising and my Brute. Android is a very different market to iOS, and we are still studying the business models out there to understand the best way to earn money and continue bringing new content to those newer platforms.
For iOS, does BulkyPix focus more on universal apps than releasing just for iPhone?
- It’s really a goal, because like others we thought that iPhone and iPad would be different development queues requiring creation of wholly different content. As it turned out it’s not true and to players it’s hard to understand why when you buy a game that you need to buy it again to continue your experience on your iPad. From now we will be striving for a universal version.
There are some episodic games by BulkyPix. Do you think it’s a more viable system for games now?
- Not really, it’s more a matter of budget, because you need to calculate your risks. The risk on iOS is really high – you can be totally unnoticed even if your game is good, so sometimes if you make a bet with tons of new features you need to minimize your risk and wait to see if the success is there before spending more on sequels.
We’ve also learned that when you want to be episodic, your second episode needs to be there very quickly if you don’t want to loose the buzz around the game. As we said, it’s not really a way we want to work again – we might, but it’d have to be a very special case.
Do you think developers have fully tapped into the hardware power of iOS? What’s the potential for Android devices?
- From my point of view the best is definitely yet to come. I don’t know what the iPhone 5 processor will be, but just imagine an A5 (same as iPad2) in the iPhone. It means a lot more horsepower. Soon I think iOS games will be comparable to dedicated classical home consoles.
Android phones have the same potential but it will be more difficult from a development point of view as all manufacturers can implement Android the way each might see fit. It means different screen sizes, different processors… This fragmentation is a real problem when you want to offer the same experience across the board, with acceptable costs in development time and expense.
Are there any specific difficulties developing for different platforms?
- You need to be organized and to make a decision. Either you choose an already-existing engine on the market, such as Unity, or Marmelade… or you invest in building your own to be sure you won’t be dependent on a 3rd party engine’s particular development cycle.
You have to understand that there’s no magic bullet; don’t believe a guy who is telling you that their technology will allow you to port your game everywhere in 2 minutes. It’s simply not true! However, you must strive to minimize the amount of work between the different versions and to automate everything you can to control your development. Our internal framework is pretty good at doing that for us.
$0.99 is the standard for most games; do you think this is the perfect price point?
- This price point is the natural evolution at the moment, but that particular price point isn’t good because it’s giving the impression that games have become cheaper to develop. It wasn’t the best of ideas to jump from traditional pricing to handheld consoles prices with a price point of $0.99 – you still have to pay your teams because, just like everyone else, we need to be able to pay the rent.
So it’s sometime really hard to see in reviews that it’s not acceptable to have to pay for games. From my point of view the perfect price point is around $5. Just think about it as around the price of a magazine …
BulkyPix is a publisher of games by different developers, but you also publish your own titles. Is there a plan to release more first-party titles in the future?
- Yes, it’s definitely in the pipeline to build out our internal teams further. That’s something we are working on for next year but we are also increasing the number of co-production and co-development projects which we are doing with partners all over the world.
What are the plans for BulkyPix in the future?
- First of all we want to continue to publish good games on smartphones but also to develop our own games with our internal teams. We are actively moving towards multi-platform games, adding PC, Mac, Connected TV, web and Facebook to smartphones. It’s a very exciting (and challenging) time for us. In short, we want to be everywhere, across all of the myriad digital platforms.
I have to thank Vincent for answering my questions. With the mobile market changing at a rapid pace, developers and publishers have to really look at the changing trends and adjust quickly to meet new demands. BulkyPix is a consistent publisher of mobile games and it will be interesting to see how they adjust to the Android market in the near future and maintain their presence on iOS.