The rise of the east – and of the hardcore mobile gamer….

Many things can be learnt from looking east.

One thing I truly believe is the future for mobile gaming. Which is why I spent three months over there last year checking out the competition and the ecosystem… from this the following lady is a bit of a pin up of mine. Just as GungHo is a poster child of mine company wise.  But it looks like now Hoolai could be up there too.

This interview is with Xiang Lin – who wonderfully says – its better good than lucky in mobile gaming. Whilst she chats about the “Rapid Growth on the Cutting Edge”

“With the rapid growth of the mobile internet, mobile gaming is a sector everyone is watching intently,” Lin said. “Even celebrities are signing their names off on branded mobile games these days.”

(Dan adds – this is where I truly see a huge opportunity if we can bring down the costs of developing games – branded mobile games being a little like website were 10 years ago – not quite wordpress and free – but not costing £2000 to produce to a high quality.)

Lin was attracted to the mobile business when she recognized that it was a business model ripe for innovation, especially in China. She had her pick of mobile Internet startup opportunities, but decided to join Hoolai in June 2011.

“If you enjoy riding wave after wave in a fast-paced industry, games are where you want to be,” Lin said.

“Three Kingdoms” Kills It

When she joined Hoolai, it was a company of 80 people. Later that year, the company was propelled from small game studio to a “real” game company, when Hoolai’s Three Kingdoms became the top grossing Chinese iOS app that same year. A year and a half after that, Hoolai now has more than 600 employees.

Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms became the top grossing Chinese iOS app the year Xiang Lin joined the company.

“You can never get bored with an industry when innovations in gaming are announced on a near daily basis,” Lin said. “And, of course, Hoolai’s continued growth helps.”

Avoiding the One-Hit Wonder

Lin firmly believes that the mark of a successful studio is avoiding becoming the dreaded one-hit wonder. Hoolai may have seemed to be this when it became the #1 social game on Tencent’s Open Platform, and then Hoolai followed up Three Kingdoms on Tencent’s Open Platform with its iOS app. It became the top grossing iOS app in China, and Hoolai soon proved its staying power. The next hit for the company, War of Immortals, reached the top of Tencent’s Open Platform; it remains one of the top three on the charts. This success has now been followed by the launch of an Android version.

War of Immortals

War of Immortals reached the top of Tencent’s Open Platform.

The Secret…

“The way to work through challenges,” Lin tells us, “is to listen to your fans.” Though it may seem obvious, it is important to reach out to the fans that are willing to contribute to the vision of the game. Gamers regularly discover strengths and weaknesses in a game that the developers had never thought of. They will let you know what type of content they would like to see in the next iteration, or they will tell you why they like one game over another.

Lin believes we are already seeing hints of the future with smartphones giving consoles serious competition; PC may not be far behind. With the portability of mobile devices and the advances in new hardware technology, the mobile platform is the developer’s opportunity for experimentation. It provides breathing room for developers to exercise their creativity.

Hoolai Wall Art

Creativity blossoms at Hoolai.

Anticiptating the Mobile Hardcore Gamer

“The latest advances in auxiliary device inputs — such as Apple’s support for game controller technology in iOS 7 — and touch screen interactions are allowing mobile hardware and software to catch up to the developer’s fantasies of PC quality graphics and immersive mobile game experience,” Lin said. “Expect to see more hard core gamers picking up a smartphone, which may contribute to mobile gaming revenue rivaling console gaming revenue in the future.”

Amen to that – the rise of the hardcore mobile gamer – I can see it already.

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