Wilson Kriegel is chief revenue officer for OMGPOP, the developer and publisher of multiplayer, social and mobile games. He is delivering a keynote speech on Day Three of the Broadband World Forum 2102 taking place on the 16 – 18 October 2012 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Ahead of the conference we speak to him about how increasing broadband connectivity is changing the market for gaming.
Web based MMO games are now a standard go to for publishers. As broadband connectivity increases how much growth potential do these platforms have?
I think that as technologies become more accessible, so does content, which expands the market size and in turn the quality of that content and size potential for that sector. In this case MMO’s have become more mainstream as the content has become more casual than in the past. Access to technology at lower cost and higher broadband connectivity supports that.
Will mobile completely replace the desktop as the primary gaming platform?
I think user adoption always takes longer than people anticipate. Mobility was expected to take over PCs in 2000 and we’re now in 2012. I do think that tablets and smartphones are entering a phase of scale, content quality, and business model viability at a global scale to seriously change where and how people engage with content. You can never underestimate the experience and engagement qualities of whatever platform people chose to use. You can’t replicate certain experiences, and games on a small mobile device. I do think over time we may get there, on tablets in particular, but I don’t think PC gaming will go away anytime soon.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for from the proliferation of smart, connected, location aware, devices?
Disparity in the quality of carriers and networks does hold back content providers and adoption in the near term. The pricing of data plans and phones also has an impact. That’s hugely true in the US. Now think of China, India and Africa, which are the three largest markets in the world. How many people can afford a good smartphone, much less an iPhone? Another challenge is the quality of the carrier network there for data, content and video streaming. That said, what is key is the rate of growth and the adoption of the devices and demand for content. This, in combination with all the new ways of paying for that content is what makes mobile devices a market and opportunity that can’t be missed.
If you had to choose, what would be more important for your customers to have – faster average broadband speeds or wider coverage and access?
That’s only as relevant as the platform you’re focused on as a content provider based on that content type. I think broadband speed is really critical in the US. It will impact everything digital. Separately, carrier network speed and the cost of data plans are key for the mobile market to grow and meet the quality of content and usage we see on TV, consoles and PCs. I think those are more important than coverage.
What principles do you adhere to when building customer-friendly apps and services?
Content is king and so is the customer. Focus on building great, quality gaming experiences that retains your users, creates a brand and is viral. Thereafter, focus on monetization and all the other aspects of the business, which need to be flushed out at the outset. Ultimately though, the only truly impact on the business is if the game is good and customers are happy with their experience.
Would you look to custom build applications for individual mobile platforms or take a one-size-fits-all approach?
You can’t take a one-size-fits all. You have mobile devices and tablets—two very different markets to service and build for. You are really optimizing for screen size, user experience and market opportunity. People either build for the largest one or the one that is the one that monetizes best—and sometimes, the one with the least content saturation. Each platform requires slightly different builds and more so, an extensive amount of QA and testing on Android as there are so many devices to operate on. Then you expand to tablets like iPad and the secondary ones such as Kindle and the Nook. But size of the market matters a great deal.
To what extent will fast 4G mobile speed change mobile gaming?
It will impact all aspects of gaming. Load time, file size, both impact the quality of the content developed and also monetization. It can also impact whether people play more real-time games, localisation based games, cross-platform and multiplayer as well. So I believe carrier network speed is critical to the evolution of the industry, because it has a huge impact on the experience for users and thus what they are willing to consume, which drives what we build and sell.
How might existing business models have to be adapted as consumer connectivity increases?
We’ll see more real-time payment options, premium payment, freemium models, pay upgrade as well as subscription based models. Also they’ll be more wallets and virtual currency and easier access to payment forms globally.
What new partnerships, such as mobile advertising, do new gaming platforms create?
We see a lot in the distribution and monetization side specifically, as well as data driven services. When new platforms emerge and content start growing because of demand, services based companies evolve very rapidly to support the adoption, monetization, data analysis and distribution of that content. Advertising in particular has a huge opportunity, and on mobile as well, given the right content, execution and scale.
Why is the Broadband World Forum an important event for you to attend?
Things move very fast and it’s important to speak with competitors, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and understand market shifts in technologies and consumers, globally. Conferences like this one enable that to take place through meetings and panels.