The Game Developers Conference is one of the most important, influential events of the year for app developers. At the Tapjoy booth’s Developer Zone, I caught up with Rob Carroll, Chief Mobile officer of 5th Planet Games, a Tapjoy Partner. The creators of browser-based social games recently released their first mobile title, Dawn of the Dragons, and shared that experience with us.
Jeff Rubenstein, Tapjoy: What are you showing at GDC 13?
Rob Carroll, 5th Planet Games: This year we’re showing our first mobile launch, Dawn of the Dragons, it is a port of our successful Facebook and Kongregate game, which has been out for about 2 1/2 years.
Tapjoy: What are the most important considerations when adapting to mobile from the web?
5PG: The biggest challenge is the different user interface and screen size for the game. On web, you’ve got a large palette for the game, a lot of room to show off your art, and obviously you’ve got the mouse and the keyboard that the user can interact with. You don’t have any of that on mobile, you’ve got small, very intimate canvas for your game, and you’ve got the fingers, and maybe the accelerometer and a few other bells and whistles for your input devices. So you’ve got to make sure that the gameplay, whatever it is, is translating over from that mouse and web experience to a touch experience.
Tapjoy: Were there any specific lessons learned from doing your first mobile game?
5PG: An important lesson we learned was to choose the best engine for what you’re trying to accomplish. We worked with Adobe AIR, which we had a lot of challenges with, but because all of our games were done in Flash, it was an easy port for us to bring our games from web to mobile. I think for developers that are already on a platform with a particular engine, whether it be Unity or Flash or native, you want to make sure that the engine that you’re using is going to take the functionality that you’ve already built out for your current platform and make for an easy transition. Otherwise, it’s probably worthwhile to just rebuild the game from scratch, rather than trying to shoehorn it into an engine that doesn’t work well for where you are looking to expand.
Tapjoy: Have you noticed any major trends at this year’s show?
5PG: What I’m definitely seeing, a big trend is the larger studios now are starting to realize that Free-to-Play is here, and it’s a huge opportunity for them. For example Sony with their Planetside 2 launch, I would have paid $60 for that game but instead I got it for free and I’ve already spend over $200 on virtual goods in that game. A lot of the other developers are taking notice of this and as they move forward with these big flagship titles, they are starting to see the $60-buy-it-once model that was very successful for them in the past might not be the right fit anymore.
Tapjoy: What’s next for 5th Planet?
5PG: Right now we are preparing to launch our Dawn of the Dragons game on Amazon and Android. That’ll probably be out in the next few weeks here. We are then working on new IP in the studio. We’ve got 4 games that are currently out there on the web, we’ll be looking to bring a couple of them to mobile, and work on developing some new IP.