Four-year-old UK mobile games distributor and developer talks about its 'second phase', and exclusive copyright-protected access for third-parties to 130m China Telecom subscribers.
Brothers and business partners, Martin and Gareth Edmonson, are both veterans of the games industry.
The journey started with Reflections Studios, a console game publisher that gave birth to the respective and highly-successful 'Destruction Derby' and 'Driver' franchises, both of which were created due to a childhood obsession with vehicle-based films.
Martin went on to sell the firm to Ubisoft, making the switch to the mobile space in 2008 by co-founding Thumbstar, a developer and distributor of mobile games.
He admits that the firm appears to have been flying under the radar so far, but the team has been doing a significant amount of behind the scenes work.
Now, with Gareth on board as CEO, and Martin taking a more active role as CCO, the pair discuss the 'second phase' of Thumbstar.
There are a huge amount of app developers on the market, where do you see yourself slotting in?
We describe the business as being 'fully vertically integrated'. That means we cover development, distribution and publishing, which is supported by four in-house teams at our Newcastle HQ.
We're now planning to be very aggressive with future third-party efforts, rolling out two new games per week.
How effective are your distribution channels?
We have 140 channels across Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Australasia. Some of those include; Vodafone, 3UK, Orange, O2 UK, Verizon and SingTel.
This makes us very comfortable in certain places that others like Google and Apple aren't. We're able to support non-cardholders etc in emerging markets, simply allowing them to pay via their bill.
How exactly does the business model work for your partners?
It depends on a case by case factor, but as a rule it's a simple revenue share with the developer or operator. We're not looking to secure the developer's IP – unless we were to fund the game.
Our goal is to getting the product out to as many markets as possible, which is in everyone's interest.
Do you find that there's a region in particular that the third-parties want to focus on?
Generally speaking, we'll go global with the launch, which is what most people tend to want. Of course, some apps will work better in some areas than others.
The basic philosphy used is as many platforms, languages, territories, and genres as possible, the better.
And in terms of platform, freemium, Android etc, is there a dominant type favoured by developers?
It's hugely diverse. Android is incredibly important as an OS, but BlackBerry is very popular in Indonesia, and it accounts for 50 per cent of all devices in Latin America.
All of the new releases due out from us in the next few weeks are one-off cost of £1.49. But with regard to the freemium models, we believe the in-app purchase design is more effective than in-app advertising because it can be incorporated into the game as a feature.
Asia is a rapidly-growing market, and China is outpacing the US for smartphone shipments. Do you have plans for the region?
We've now secured an exclusive deal with government-owned network, China Telecom, which is massively against piracy.
It's in the process of launching a new anti-piracy platform, and the new deal makes us the only means of getting copyright-protected content into the country.
One town alone is five million subscribers, rising to 130 million once the roll out is complete, growing at a rate of three million newcomers per month.
So you're driving distribution and third-party development, you've tackled China, what about Thumbstar's own game designs?
We'll have an announcement to make in a few weeks time. Watch this space.
For full info about the China deal, click here.