Interview - Mobile Games - IN-FUSIO
IN-FUSIO are headquartered in Bordeaux, France, and were one of the first companies to be involved in Mobile Gaming. Here we talk to Jerome Schurch about what they're up to.
IN-FUSIO presents a portfolio of games and games services to mobile network operators. Getting together the sixty-five games you have, plus the services must have taken a little while to put together. How long has it taken?
IN-FUSIO was the pioneer in mobile games. The company was started in 1998. We commercially launched our technology for game download in 2001. Since we have constituted a portfolio of 65 games. Some have been removed from our catalogue but some others, as our famous classical Wall Breaker, is still played by millions of players in Europe and China. The services also were launched in 2001. Thanks to our technology called ExEn, players can not only download games but also interact with our servers: change a feature in a game, go directly to new levels, have their ranking, send their scores. For the operators, the IN-FUSIO service means that they have in real-time status I the games traffic: how many downloads and sms, when do players play, etc? So yes on the whole, it took us a little more than three years to put together the offering we have today. This made become the leader in mobile games. But it is a never-ending story.
Are all your games developed in-house?
IN-FUSIO is a mobile games service provider, not a developer. It means that our games are not all developed in-house. We do publish and distribute games developed by talented third parties such as INFRAWORLD, KAOLINK, BE TOMORROW. The games we publish in-house are developed in our offices in Bordeaux and Moscow The number of handsets to address has become so huge, that we can have for instance one game developed by one studio and ported by another one or several other studios.
Do you accept pitches from outside developers? What is your decision process for OK'ing a game -- is it similar to the committee based systems we know from the console publishers?
Absolutely, not only we accept but we encourage pitches from outside developers. We have an inside team that evaluates regularly projects coming from third parties (game designs, prototypes,..) Projects can be posted to our developer website (developer.in-fusio.com) or sent directly by email. If the team detects a good potential concept, then we check if the game can be placed in our portfolio. If so, the project is launched. We have just launched the game Pikubi, which comes from an outside developer called Devalley and 2 months ago, we launched Sphere Madness, from Asobo Studio.
What size of teams do you have working on these games?
The size of the production team (Game Designers, Graphic Artists, Programmers, Producers) is 70 people based in Chicago, Moscow, Shanghai & Bordeaux. In addition a dozen of third parties (SSII, free lancers, Game Studio), Game Testers and Product Managers take part to the creation of a game.
There seem to be a few French companies that are involved in mobile games publishing. Has there been any initiative in France which spurred this on, or is it just great-minds-thinking-alike?
Actually no specific initiative was taken for mobile gaming in France but there is here a long history with games and we benefit of it; Infogrames (re-branded Atari), Ubisoft, Also there have been subsidies for video games but not for mobile games or very very few.
Quite a lot of the current crop of games are Java based. Do you see a shift to lower level programming anytime soon?
We are already developing in C on Brew, Symbian and Smartphone. Some parts can be done in ASM. Today, it's a small part of the installed base but it will increase in the coming months.
What do you think the outlook is for mobile gaming?
The mobile games market will be over 1 billion dollars in 2004 and will be probably 3 billion dollars in 2006. The market gets closer to the video game's. This means simultaneous releases with the original game (game available on PS2, Xbox, Mobile..). It means also that the number of game versions will go on increasing, because of the technology fragmentation and lastly it means that the development time will dramatically increase because handsets are more and more powerful (ie : 3D capabilities and many different engines). UMTS network may bring a lot to connected games if it brings in terms of speed and time latency what it is expected to bring and if there is harmonization of multiplayer platforms.
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