How does developing games for mobile differ from consoles? We fire some questions to Ross Symons, CEO of Big Ant Studios in Melbourne.
How important is the mobile gaming market to Big Ant?
We’ve created a number of mobile games to tie into our successful sporting properties, giving gamers on the go the ability to play high quality, tailor-made tennis and cricket games. Mobile games are a tiny part of our overall business, but we are always evaluating new opportunities and watching trends as they emerge.
What are the big differences between mobile and console gamers, and how do you compensate for that if there is a difference?
It’s the truth that mobile gamers are there for the quick fix, and we tend to design console games for those sit-down, hours-long marathons. With that being said, the great thing about sports games is that they can work for that short-and-sharp experience too, so adapting what we do to the mobile platform is relatively straightforward.
On average, how long does it take to develop a game for a mobile device?
Big Ant Studios’ mobile development is very different from the norm, we have the luxury of having high quality console assets and code already developed that we can convert down to mobile. This literally saves years of development time, whilst providing a superior result. For example, our mobile games have console quality environments that look very much like their real-world counterparts.
What are the challenges involved in developing for mobile?
One challenge is the lack of buttons on these devices. What this means in turn is that you can’t go too complex with the inputs – you’ve got to fit everything down into a couple of taps and swipes.
This, however, is also a benefit of the platform. Mobile games are highly accessible and welcoming to a wide audience. Once you’ve got a system worked out for your game, almost everyone can jump in and have a great time with it.
What percentage of the team at Big Ant is dedicated to mobile gaming?
At this point there is only 15 per cent of our resources geared towards mobile. We see that growing as systems converge and the lines between console and mobile blur even further.
“Mobile devices will become a person’s portable gaming device – during lunch breaks they’ll catch up on the game they’re playing on the TV at home.”
What have been the most noticeable changes in the industry over the last five years?
It’s not just the rise of mobile games. The industry itself is going through a great transformation. Streaming services with games in the cloud will soon allow you to play your console games on mobile devices, for example. The hyper-connectivity of online platforms is allowing developers to tap into opportunities for innovation that haven’t even been thought of yet. And there’s a new generation of consoles coming soon. Mobile gaming isn’t going away, but it’s going to need to evolve, too, or else it will start to seem outdated.
What are the current trends?
As mentioned, games in the cloud is the biggest current trend in mobile gaming, and perhaps all gaming – every major platform holder from Xbox to Google is investing in it heavily. The idea of being able to play those full, blockbuster console experiences no matter where you are, as long as you’ve got access to the Internet, is a big trend and we’re going to see that mature rapidly.
What’s next for mobile gaming?
It will be finding its role among the streaming services. Mobile devices will become a person’s portable gaming device – during lunch breaks they’ll catch up on the game they’re playing on the TV at home, for example.