Video Game Developer World: Mimicking for Success

Every major video game developer has a problem to deal with today that uniquely belongs to this day and age -the age of the pocket computer a.k.a. the smartphone. Consider a major video game developer -someone like Electronic Arts or Bungie that makes major computer game blockbusters like the Crysis or Halo franchises. These are corporate behemoths that employ thousands of programmers and creative artists who imagine and execute truly awe-inspiring creations. Their products do very well for powerful desktop and laptop computers. The problem is though, that they kind of depend on a customer base that has a great deal of computing power on tap.

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Today, there are far more people who are interested in getting their gaming jollies on a smartphone with a puny processor and screen rather than a super duper computer. The established video game makers don’t really know what to make of this market where making a sale depends not on creating a title that delivers magical immersive environments but on doing something clever that a device with a nonexistent processor can handle.

But this isn’t a story about how the established video game developer companies are having a hard time adapting. It’s just that there are others -companies like GameLoft for instance. These are companies that squarely address themselves to the smartphone market. They do not have giant collections of creative programmers on their rolls. And yet, they somehow manage to announce quarter-billion dollar profits every year.

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How do they do this? It’s pretty simple. They steal gaming concepts from the video game developer majors. All they do is, they take a really great concept that’s really worked for gamers using a computer, strip the game down to its bare essentials so that it can run on a smartphone, have programmers put something together quickly that will run on the major smartphone platforms and release it. And they sell millions. They have about a half million downloads every single day. They are nearly as successful as Electronic Arts’ mobile division.

Of course, GameLoft doesn’t just copy other people’s games; they also create their own games. Only, they don’t create original games from scratch. They try to do versions of of movies and TV shows. But their main source of profits, of course, comes from their copycat games. Have you seen anyone playing Sacred Odyssey on their iPhone? You’ll find that it bears a remarkable resemblance to the Legend of Zelda. How about Halo? The avatar on the smartphone is called N.O.V.A. They have one for everything, and it makes for some pretty good profits.

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What GameLoft wants to know is, how is what they’re doing any different from what everyone else does in the video game world. For instance, when Guitar Hero became a hit, another company lifted the concept and tried to offer a different kind of experience -in Rock Band. Do you see all the admiring press that Angry Birds generates? They actually lifted the concept from an online game called crush the Castle. When Crush the Castle tried to finally move itself to the iPhone, not that many people cared. They really wanted the copycat otherwise known as Angry Birds. It’s just the way of industry.

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