Chillingo on the now and future of mobile games: indies [Interview]


Between social or Facebook games hitting their stride, a new console on the horizon and the resurgence of PC gaming, it couldn't be a more exciting time for games. But perhaps the most interesting area in gaming is mobile, those little supercomputers we carry in our pockets daily. And if you ask, well, almost any game developer or publisher, they'll agree.

Take Chillingo, the publisher that helped put Angry Birds on the map, for instance. Now owned by EA, Chillingo is one of the leading publishers on iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. Naturally, the company has a lot to say about the state of mobile gaming and where it's headed. Cue Chillingo COO Ed Rumley, who sat down with us recently to answer a few of our burning questions about the mobile gaming scene.

It seems that one thing that mobile gaming is missing is a "Nintendo", that instantly recognizable name that immediately instills expectations in players. Do you agree, and why? What makes Chillingo distinct as a mobile games publisher in the eyes of players, or what is it trying to do to make that happen?

The mobile landscape is very different to the console space due to the number of developers working on new games. Even five years ago, there were perhaps three dozen or so companies making Java and BREW content versus the tens of thousands of players in the market today. Overtime, there will be publishers who find their formula and become known for that. For instance, EA Mobile is making high quality productions such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted and FIFA 13. Similarly, Chillingo is becoming synonymous with fun, great value gaming and we want consumers to see our brand and immediately associate that with a quality gaming experience.

As the #1 indie mobile games publisher, Chillingo has a proven track record that attracts the world's most talented indie developers. In fact, we're celebrating our 10-year anniversary and are proud to have played an instrumental role in the industry. Successfully publishing a mobile game is not really a science but more of an art form and that's what makes Chillingo distinct.

Our team shares the same unique indie culture that our developers do and we genuinely understand their needs whether it's polishing the gameplay to perfection, helping them identify the most balanced monetization models or aiding its discoverability with consumers. This combined with the global publishing and distribution reach of EA makes our services unparalleled.

Chillingo's third party publishing services also enable developers to bring their games to multiple platforms. We have strategic partnerships with key industry partners including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Our games are consistently featured across numerous top charts. It's not uncommon for us to have up to nine games across the top 10 charts on the App Store within a given quarter.

Cut The Rope screens
Cut The Rope screens

Where does Chillingo expect to see the next great mobile games come from? What kind of game will players universally go nuts for next?

Since Chillingo works closely with the indie developer community, we often have a birds-eye-view of industry trends. Quality is key and the consumer is king. Today's players have a much more discerning taste for what a good game is and they won't settle for something mediocre. This is true across all game genres.

Because of this, developers are pushing the boundaries further based on the platforms they're working on to create innovative titles that utilize the faster processor speeds, higher resolutions and advanced game engines. We're also now curating more high quality indie content for Android and Windows Phone 8 than ever before, giving people greater choice.

How does Chillingo decide which games to publish? Is it interested in including the players in that process more directly?

A big part of our ability to discover great games comes with experience. We have 10 years in the mobile gaming space which has given us a keen eye for what works and what doesn't. We're constantly discovering new developers around the world, including hotbeds of talent in Poland, Russia and Australia. Our goal is to publish the best in indie games that otherwise might never reach the marketplace.

Chillingo has become synonymous with high quality games and delivering popular titles that consumers gravitate towards. Award-winning examples include: Cut the Rope [pictured above], Contre Jour [pictured below], Feed Me Oil, Catapult King, He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe. Consumers will always play a critical role for Chillingo. We closely monitor consumer feedback and work diligently with our indie developers to ensure that players have the most optimal and enjoyable experiences possible.

Contre Jour screens
Contre Jour screens

Fragmentation is an issue that seems to affect gamers as well, especially those with Android devices even just a generation behind. Why does Chillingo say that fragmentation is its friend?

While other publishers might see fragmentation as a problem, Chillingo sees it as an opportunity. Both Chillingo and EA Mobile have experienced and observed the evolution of the mobile gaming industry for over a decade. Our roots stem from the Java/BREW days where the ecosystem was heavily fragmented.

It's this same diversity of marketplaces and devices, which allows a company like Chillingo to help its developers turn a higher profit margin. We take an indie game that would have otherwise just hit one marketplace and work with developers to bring it across multiple marketplaces and onto different devices.

Some great examples are Contre Jour, Feed Me Oil and Extraction: Project Outbreak–all of these titles were very successful on iOS, however we've been able to further their success by bringing them onto Android and Windows Phone platforms where they've quickly climbed to the top of the charts.

Ensuring that our players have the most enjoyable experience possible is our mantra for Team Chillingo. Therefore, we work closely with our talented indie developers to bring updated content and fresh, new features to keep consumers engaged and dedicated to our fun games.

What do you think of Chillingo's take on the mobile game world? Are there any Chillingo games you particularly love? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.