How an increasingly fragmented mobile world helps Gameloft
The mobile-game publisher says it is structured to handle a diverse mix of phones, operating systems, and hardware in the market, as it too looks to casual gamers and the "freemium" business model for growth.
The mobile world is getting crazier, and that suits Gameloft just fine.
The upcoming year should see an even greater diversity of mobile devices, including multiple designs, processors, and operating systems. Gameloft, with an army of developers devoted to mobile games, believes it is best suited to handle the different products, whether that means the iPhone or an Android tablet.
"We're structured to handle fragmentation," Baudouin Corman, vice president of publishing for the Americas region for Gameloft, says in an interview. "It's a dynamic market where different companies are bringing differentiation. We'll benefit."
It's easy to see why he's confident. Gameloft stands alongside Electronic Arts as one of the two biggest players in the mobile-game business. Unlike EA, Gameloft is solely focused on mobile. The company boasts 4,500 developers and 25 studios around the world--all dedicated to mobile games. As a publicly traded company, it is also several magnitudes bigger than most mobile-game developers.
Gameloft established its position in mobile games in 1999, when the basic phone was still the predominant mobile device. Over the past 12 years, the company has managed the transition to smartphones fairly well. The company boasts a number of successful games, including licensing partnerships with titles such as Spider-Man, to top-tier games such as N.O.V.A. and Modern Combat 3.
The company saw double-digit revenue growth last year. On average, it saw three games downloaded every second, or half a million games downloaded a day.
In addition to iPhone and Android, Gameloft has made sure to establish a position with emerging operating systems such as Windows Phone.
It's probably no coincidence that some of those games have been major hits, as they bear a passing resemblance to blockbuster console franchises such as Halo and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Beyond catering to a diverse mix of customers, Gameloft hopes to propel its revenue growth and audience by shifting gears and introducing more "freemium" games, or games that are given away, but offer in-app purchases for additional levels, weapons, or other bonuses.
Last year represented a big shift for Gameloft, as it made the move to freemium games, including Oregon Trail Settlers and GT Racing Moto Academy. This year, a majority of its games will be freemium, with only select core titles remaining premium, Corman said.
Corman said that freemium allows the company to lure in new players who previously wouldn't have considered playing that genre of games.
With games such as Modern Combat 3, which feature higher production values and a larger budget, it makes sense for customers to pay upfront for the game.
And as counterintuitive as it sounded to me, Corman said he still sees growth in feature phone games, largely in emerging markets where smartphone adoption hasn't yet taken hold. He added that with feature phones gaining more capabilities, the gaming experience should be better on those devices.
"The difference between feature phone and smartphone is becoming blurry," he said.