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Game Theory: The producers of ngmoco discuss the future of mobile gaming

by Brad Spirrison

Appolicious had the chance to sit down with the producers and executive team of ngmoco last week after the San Francisco-based firm unveiled two upcoming Android titles, Skyfall and DragonCraft.

In addition to learning a lot about the upcoming titles, we were able to tap into the insight of a few of the top mobile gaming innovators on the planet. In this special edition of Game Theory, we talk shop with Skyfall producer Christopher Plummer, DragonCraft producer Kevin O’Neill and vice president Clive Downey.

Here’s a sampling of what we learned.

On ngmoco’s near and long-term vision for Android (the company has multiple titles in the Android Market’s Top 25)

Christopher Plummer: “Last year is when we saw that the market was taking off for Android, and that it was obviously going to be dominant. The hardware was becoming powerful and more prolific globally. The writing was on the wall that it was going to be a place to be.”

Clive Downie: “It’s a different business. I actually believe the Android Market requires education. Look at top 25 on Android, which is markedly different than top 25 on iOS.”

“You need to take a lifecycle approach. You will do things at the front of a product launch for quick traction. You will then follow-up with activities and tactics that solidify a critical mass of users, and use that as the best sales force.”

On the challenge to maintain quality control among multiple Android devices and form factors:

Christopher Plummer: “The right approach until we know a better approach is to narrow our device list initially, and then expand to devices. This is better than saying we can support everything. Unless quality assurance validates each one, how do we know if it works?”

“With iOS you know the app will work on every device.”

“The good news is the games are free. If you somehow have a game on an unsupported device, we will do our best to let you know.”

Kevin O’Neill: “It is a bit of challenge managing multiple devices. But at ngCore (ngmoco’s developing platform), we are able to be flexible and do a lot with it. It’s not as big a concern as we had thought.”

On planning for other platforms beyond smartphones and tablets Google and Apple-based TV platforms:

Clive Downie: “We put low-level thought into that today. What drives us is being where the users are. When they are somewhere else, will put more thought to it. Or, if we had a credible chance of moving them there.”

On the games they are currently playing:

Christopher Plummer: “I fired up Angry Birds recently. It’s always good to remind yourself to appreciate when something is done right for a particular platform. That is what we are trying to make with Skyfall. “

Angry Birds was the perfect experience for the device it debuted on, and it ultimately became a cultural phenomenon. It is such a well-executed touch screen experience.”

Clive Downie: “I’m a consumer first, and head of production later. I don’t see things through a tech systems game guy. In addition to our new upcoming titles and We Rule, I’m not ashamed to admit to spending a lot of time playing Top Girl on iOS.”