by BRIAN ANTHONY THORNTON
Evju’s long and winding journey towards the videogame industry began in 1990′s Norway, where he found himself addicted to playing Snake on his Nokia phone while working at NetCom GSM, a local wireless carrier. “I knew that Java was coming to phones and that there would be a big opportunity for mobile games in the future. The potential for games and entertainment distributed through mobile devices was very appealing to me, and I sought out opportunities to take my experience and passion in this direction based on what was, at the time, a very big bet,” Evju said. And this bet paid off, as opportunity after opportunity emerged. With over 20 years in the wireless industry, Evju has gained much insight on what it takes to succeed in an industry that is constantly in flux. “Having a passion for the business always helps,” Evju admits, “and my ability to take what I learned about mobile platforms and how consumers utilize their devices for entertainment purposes has served me well throughout my career. My background in sales and marketing combined with my financial experience has been particularly helpful in building PlayPhone and the PlayPhone Social Gaming Network (PSGN) into a major player in mobile social gaming.”
Inspiration from the East
Japan has had a love affair with the mobile industry for a great many years now, and Evju is determined to mirror that success for western markets. “We view PlayPhone as the Western alternative to the success that mobile social gaming is seeing in Japan,” says Evju,“PlayPhone is driving the industry in ways that bring carriers back into the fold as a viable option for distribution versus traditional app stores. We strongly believe that carriers are becoming the third true ecosystem.” The PlayPhone Social Gaming Network (PSGN) was created with these goals in mind – as a complete publishing solution and platform for game developers seeking to acquire users and build communities of mobile players through a fully integrated network – and as an alternative to the game-by-game solution offered by competitors. Evju claims that the PSGN is the only cross-platform network for mobile games that is optimized for engagement and monetization.
Evju admits that the competition in this sector has been intense, to say the least, and that carriers been “sluggish” to transition their feature phone content distribution business to smartphones. That said, they are now waking up to the realization that they can’t allow themselves to be left behind. “Our carrier partners are moving very quickly and decisively with both on-deck and off-deck channels,” says Evju, “and PlayPhone’s direct-carrier billing integration allows us to make the user experience much better than any other channel. We believe the carrier billing solutions are on-par or better than Apple at this point.”
There have, however, been hurdles to overcome. Developers are not excited about having to integrate to multiple SDKs, and carrier integration is another step to add to the process. As an answer to this, PlayPhone has developed an easy to integrate SDK that a developer can use for all channels, including Apple, Google and Amazon.
The fact that the carriers own the home screens of all Android phones distributed on their plans (which allows them to significantly influence content distribution for a major part of the market) also helps immensely. “By working with carriers, developers reduce their overall risk because they can get their game featured within a few hundred served apps and really stand out from the crowd,” Evju says.
Keep Calm and Carry On
The main question on the minds of Evju and company is the same question that developers worldwide have been losing sleep over – “What is the most effective way to monetize a game?” Evju has this to say on the matter: “If we consider the PSGN to be a true democratization for game developers big and small, we have to be able to offer them both a large, engaged audience to market to, and cutting-edge tools that allow them to self-publish and control every step of the integration process. After all, we are talking about developers and their own IP – PlayPhone isn’t looking to control their content.”
Before the rise of the smartphone, carriers were extremely successful at selling and distributing digital entertainment to users on feature phones. According to Evju, those heady days are gone, but not forgotten: “Carriers saw big revenues offering content for feature phones and now they want that revenue stream back, so they are re-staking their claim by migrating their content distribution model to the smartphone business. It may be a slow progression, but carriers will find success in the smartphone arena in the end. They can’t afford not to.”
Full article here: http://gamesauce.org/news/2012/11/08/captain-of-the-carrier-an-interview-with-anders-evju-of-playphone/