Thumbstar CEO Gareth Edmondson believes that both Microsoft Windows Phone and RIM’s Blackberry will gain market share at an international level, and that the latter device should not be written off as dead for gaming, because “Blackberry has such brand attachment in certain parts of the world.”
Edmondson, who quit his post as managing director Ubisoft Reflections last year, was speaking at the GameHorizon conference at The Sage, Gateshead. Representing his new company Thumbstar, a mobile game publisher that deals with more than 150 developers, he asserted that the pay-to-play model, where games are time-limited and topped up through microtransactions, is booming, and will continue to flourish - particularly in Africa.
“These things are going to be quite disruptive," he said. "Products can be made anywhere and sold anywhere. New business models will gain traction globally.” Latin America, he said, provided a “massive growth opportunity”, with 60million Android devices in the region.
Overall, there are six billion phone subscriptions worldwide. Edmondson said that smartphones would be eclipsing PCs very soon, and that the tablet market would end the year with around 160 million sales.
Passing comment on the “battle raging between Apple and Android”, the publisher pointed out that although Apple accumulates more revenue than publishers of Android devices, Google’s mobile OS has a huge global userbase - an advantage that should be very important to mobile game makers.
Much has been made of the difficulty in developing games for Android because of the huge range of technical specifications devs have to allow for; such is the nature of an open operating system. Edmondson’s figures suggested, however, that with the right localisation processes there is a definite benefit in making the move.
Rounding off his talk, Edmondson stated that the freemium business model's rapid rise in popularity should not be taken as meaning that it was suitable for all players and all markets. “If my dad wants a puzzle game," he said, "then he wants the full thing.”
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