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Wooga: We have more staff developing for mobile than Facebook

Jens Begemann talks about the transition to smartphones and tablets

Jens Begemann, CEO of number three Facebook publisher Wooga, has talked about his company's transition to a mobile focus - revealing that the majority of his workforce resources are now given over to the sector.

In an interview with Gamasutra Begemann spoke about the inevitable shift away from Canvas development as people abandon desktops and traditional browsers in favour of smartphones and tablets. Begemann expects that shift to become a reality, for Wooga at least, next year.

"We have roughly 60 percent of our employees working on mobile, 40 percent on Canvas," Begemann told Gamasutra. "We made this decision a year ago. A year ago we only had 10 people working on mobile. Now it's over half of the 250-people company.

"We still see growth on Canvas and obviously it's still bigger, but the growth on mobile is extremely fast. The PC will become less important, and with that the browser, and with that Canvas. But that's really mid-term."

That diminishing of the desktop and laptop is already underway, he argues, with a prevailing culture of tablet use for most computing needs emerging.

"I think that people who are buying a tablet now, as a private person, won't replace their laptop. They will phase out their existing laptop and they will maybe upgrade in two years to the next generations of tablets. I think that's what's happening."

Recently, Zynga - which has seen continuing problems as Facebook revenues have declined and management have relocated - cut the long-standing agreement which had tied it to the social network. As a result, it is now able to develop for other platforms.

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Latest comments (4)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
I think it caught a lot of people out that Facebook was just a transition. The market moved very quickly into it, because of innovative business models, then moved very quickly on as Facebook became more restrictive, as the competition increased and as the critical mass of smartphones exploded.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
Facebook turned restricted and a bubble; with a ton of uninspired City ville and Mafia Wars clones. Same bubble as mobile phones is becoming. A lot like what happened with consoles in 1983.

Not nice, but we are going to see a lot of studios disappearing in the next years. Specially if they keep believing that there is no end for their money farming policies.

Their only hope is creativity and offering something new. But so far no mobile game offered me a deep story and game-play like (for example) the Mass Effect saga.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
@Alfonso Sexto

I agree with you about the mobile phones bubble. Currently 96 new Apple App Store games are published each day. There are 122,127 active games already there. But if you search for Frogger you get vast numbers of games, most of which are utter rubbish. In a given week there are only a handful of new games of quality. But still the press haven't gained the gumption to sort out the wheat from the chaff. So the market is being underserved by the media.

Apple revenues are still expanding rapidly with $4 billion earned by publishers in January this year rising to $6.5 billion in October. An explosive growth. Android revenues are increasing even faster, percentage wise, but from a far lower base. So there is plenty to keep the bubble inflating.

As for a deep story on a phone game. Is that what the market wants? A deep and compelling narrative to be played at the bus stop. I suppose it is a bit like a novel and you see novels being read on the tube. So it will come.
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Hugo Trepanier Senior UI Designer, Hibernum4 years ago
People don't necessarily want or expect deep stories in mobile games. In fact most people play them in short bursts, which is not a good way to deliver a deep and meaningful story. The best mobile games have gameplay specifically catered to this demand to be enjoyed in small amounts. I can almost guarantee that if you place a 5 minute cut scene in a mobile title, the vast majority of your players will skip it (especially if your dialogues are displayed as text -- people don't even read!)

This means that more involving console-type games will continue to be enjoyed on large screens in the living room. There's a right place for both and one does not prevent the other from existing, but they don't have to both tend towards the same destination either.

Regarding Facebook vs mobile, I think there's a huge difference in that people don't go to Facebook to play games, whereas if they download games on their smartphone they specifically went looking for it. They are a more active audience, more likely to spend their money on games than a bored FB user who simply received an invite from a friend he hasn't actually seen in 5 years.
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