Having become a dominant player in MMOG development and publishing, we recently talked to Perfect World Entertainment as it sets its sights on conquering mobile platforms as well.
Following the critically acclaimed Neverwinter launch earlier this summer, we figured it was only a matter of time before the next major announcement from Perfect World Entertainment. Over the past few years PWE has gone from a slightly off the beaten path MMO publisher in North America to one of the dominant players in the industry. This was due in no small part to picking up publishing for the wildly successful Torchlight, and the smart acquisition of Cryptic Studios.
With a growing stable of triple-A titles under its belt, we had assumed that wed be hearing more from PWE soon on future release plans, and we were partially correct. However, with a firm foothold on the free-to-play MMOG market, PWE is now making an aggressive push into mobile publishing and development.
We recently had the chance to sit down with General Manager of Mobile at PWE, Fabien-Pierre Nicolas to learn more about the initial mobile games lineup, monetization, specific platforms being targeted, and a whole lot more. It was an interesting chat with a guy who is clearly passionate about the growing potential of mobile gaming now that the market has matured, and where he sees PWE making a lasting impact.
Targeting Core Genres and Platforms
Right off the bat, Fabien was quick to point out that PWEs efforts in mobile gaming are squarely aimed at core genres, including RPGs, strategy, TCGs, MMORPGs, and MOBAs to name a few. While that sounds like a pretty diverse lineup for a publishing giant most commonly associated with MMOGs specifically, dont forget the major role PWE played in publishing Runics kick-ass Torchlight and Torchlight II.., or its foray into the multiplayer FPS market with Blacklight: Retribution.
I was equally interested in finding out which specific mobile devices are being targeted out of the gates and as expected it looks like Windows Phone wont be making the cut anytime soon. As Fabian explained, the decision to wholly focus on iOS and Android to start really boils down to market share. I keep hoping more publishers would see the benefits of being a massive fish in the decidedly smaller WP app / games pond, it looks like PWE wont be going that route for the time being.
The good news for the rest of the world who are apparently using either iOS or Android devices is that PWE will be aggressively pursuing those markets, and will be bringing some of the top grossing games in China to the West, such as Elemental Kingdoms which will be the first title released over in this part of the world.
Being known as a free-to-play publisher and developer, it seemed a natural next question regarding whether or not that will continue to be the case with mobile. As Fabien explained, that will indeed be the case. However, unlike the PC-based MMORPGs in their current lineup, the shared Zen currency wont factor into PWEs mobile offerings, at least not to start in its current form. Instead, PWE will be leveraging the inherent strengths of the existing platform marketplaces.
A centralized platform or interface where gamers will be able to snag any of PWEs mobile offerings is still in the works, so unfortunately Fabien didnt have any details he could share on what we might expect to see implemented in the future. In the meantime, one thing worthy of note is that gamers with an existing PWE account will be able to leverage that same login for mobile play.
Along with the option of using your existing PWE account, youll also be able to use your Facebook account (presumably so that you can optionally spam the social media world with your mighty gaming badassery, though I didnt ask outright if this will be the case). Theyre also targeting Google / G+ login capabilities for the future, but theres currently no ETA on when that will come online.
Did we mention there are games, too?
So far there are four games announced that will be rolling onto mobile in the near future under the PWE banner. Heres a quick and dirty rundown of whats in the works:
This will be the first title to drop, and has already proven to be one of the top grossing games in China. Developed by iFree Studio, Elemental Kingdoms looks to be a TCG worthy of whiling away the hours during your commutes or whenever you do your best Pac Man impression and hungrily consume mobile games as if they were delicious pellets.
Arena of Heroes
MOBA gaming is quickly becoming a densely saturated market, and its gotten to the point where the formula needs some form of tweaking for new titles to make much of a splash, at least without some very deep marketing pockets ala Valves DOTA 2 or Turbines Infinite Crisis.
Arena of Heroes sets itself apart from the crowd by introducing turn-based play. So far its proven to be a very worthwhile departure from the norm on PC, and makes a heck of a lot of sense as a means of translating the genre for mobile play.
If Plants vs. Zombies and Worms had a mutant offspring, it would be named BombBuds. This little gem is being developed by Seattle-based Fugazo and has a core multiplayer thing going on. While we havent gotten a chance to play BombBuds just yet, were definitely looking forward to getting our hands on it soon.
The Null Society
Rounding out the initial lineup is The Null Society, and RPG adventure game being developed by San Francisco-based Agent Disco. According to Fabien, The Null Society details are being kept under wraps for the time being as simple descriptions wouldnt do the game justice. We should learn more about TNS sometime early next month.