Spiel Studios' Mohit Sureka talks about his conversion from Java to iPhone
Spiel is a great example of the energy coming out of India into mobile. Give us some background.
We launched in 2006 with a small team dedicated for mobile gaming, with J2ME handsets as our main focus. We also did some work with independent platforms like Sidekick. Now we have offices in USA, UK and a development centre in India.
How has the focus changed since then?
It's all iPhone and Flash, but we're an authorised Sony Playstation 2 and PSP development partners so we're lanching a PSP game next month.
What went wrong in Java?
We got sick of operators and the complexity of developing across multiple handsets with different flavours of Java. It's pretty much over for us now, as is BREW. The simplicity of iPhone and the freedom it gives you works for us much better. Also, consumers are more confident in the system. They can view screenshots, check player feedback, ratings, demo, etc.
Is the iPhone a serious games device?
MS: I don't see why not. Some publishers have stereotyped the iPhone as only a mobile phone with only basic gaming capabilities. However, Apple has started to put a lot of emphasis on the gaming capabilities, and I think the public is responding
But what about the visibility? There 85,000 apps on the store now...
It's getting harder, but we really believe that quality does tell in the end. We have been developing games for third party publishers like Mind Gamz and Mapajasi, and it's given us an insight into what works and what doesn't. Now we're ready to release our own IP - and we think it works really well.
Is there any iPhone market in India?
It's very small. The iPhone has been only been on sale a few months back, and costs around $900. That's a massive amount here.
What about the other app platforms. Are you developing for them?
We made an Android game, but it didn't sell well. The problem for Android, Ovi and others is the number of devices. They have to be careful to avoid the same problems as the Java market. Nokia also needs to ensure that Ovi ships inside the devices rather than over the air. I think these platforms could work, but not at the moment.
What proportion of revenue does iPhone comprise?
It's 60 per cent, with Flash advergames taking the rest. I would hope we can make this 40/40 with PSP taking the other 20 per cent.
Generally, you charge for your iPhone games. Have you considered a free ad-funded approach?
If you charge $1 for a game, you need to make 70c from ads if you're going to give it away. I don't see that happening, at least not now. Some form of free demo version interests me though.