Google Glass could have iPhone-like impact on gaming

Glu Mobile CEO sees potential for a wearable computing revolution as mobile's big players only get bigger

Google Glass is giving Glu Mobile CEO Niccolo de Masi visions of the future. Speaking with Venture Beat, the executive said that the software giant's latest gadget could be incredibly disruptive.

"Every five or 10 years, something more revolutionary than evolutionary comes along," de Masi said. "It's been six or seven years since the first iPhone. This could be one of those moments. The next seven years could well be a wearable wave. It could happen as fast or even faster than the smartphone, this PC in your pocket."

Glu Mobile isn't waiting to find out if that will be the case. The company has already created one game, Spellista, for the Google Glass GDK beta program, a move de Masi said will give Glu a technological edge if the platform actually does take off.

"If you think about how quickly hardware and software progress these days, this thing-I'm sure you've heard that the prototypes now are not even two years old," de Masi said. "They were the size of a laptop. Look at it now. Imagine where it'll be in two more years or four more years. There's a miniaturization opportunity where that could get small enough so that I could go to Lenscrafters and install it as an option on my glasses. That day will come. The question is when."

As for the smartphone market where Glu currently makes its money, de Masi said the big players in the space are increasing their share of the pie faster than the market is growing.

"The market is doubling every year, but the top 10 games are getting bigger at an even faster rate," de Masi said. "We went from 2010, where a $10 million new game like Gun Bros was a big game, to today, where it's a $50 million game if you're in the same grossing position."

While he acknowledged there are opportunities for smaller players to emerge and succeed, much as Supercell did, de Masi predicts that by 2015, "every company of any significance will be public."

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Latest comments (14)

Craig Burkey Software Engineer 4 years ago
Yeah, I don't see that happening unless they can tackle the public image of some weirdo with a camera strapped to their head possibly filming you, which will restrict the majority of its use to the home, then why not use your big TV screen.

TBH its current in the same category in my mind as a Segway

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Burkey on 28th November 2013 9:08am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
Wearable extensions of mobile technology will be an immense market, ultimately selling in billions.
So they represent a great gaming opportunity that only a fool would ignore.
They also offer whole new potential areas of creativity.
To ignore would be a huge folly. Just like the dinosaur developers and publishers who ignored mobile.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
There are a lot of issues they're going to have to tackle with this. At this moment in time it's not commercially available yet and costs just under 1000 I believe at the moment. So what's it going to cost when it goes mass market? That'll be one issue.

Another is how many keen mobile gamers (for lack of better words) plans to walk around all day looking like this? -

And also whilst it has gone such a long way from the likes of say the Virtual Boy, no one has exactly sat down for an 8 hour gaming binge wearing this. So there's no telling how long gamers are going to play without feeling they just need to put it down and give their eyes a rest.

I think one final note is the design, when people buy things like phones and glasses, they have a choice to choose something which they like the look of. And as far as I know Google Glass is just going to look like Google Glass. Hard to picture thousands of keen mobile gamers walking down the same street in a city wearing the same device, without looking at each other and thinking "hmm....this is kind of weird."

So I'd say there are a number of issues that need to be overcome. It definitely has plenty of potential but as far as mobile gaming goes but it's going to take a lot more than just developing interesting games.
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Jakub Mikyska CEO, Grip Digital4 years ago
One problem with the comparison to the "iPhone revolution" is that when iPhone came, everybody knew what a mobile phone was, everybody already had one. And iPhone made it "right".
Wearable electronics is still in its infancy, perhaps even prenatal, actually. It will take a lot of time before this penetrates the market. Look at the Samsung Gear and its "success". Just like people talking to a mobile phone were kind of weird twenty years ago, this will repeat. And while the process will go a lot faster this time, I don't see the wearable electronics' software market being anywhere close to current mobile landscape in the next three years. Perhaps something like pre-iPhone era. Do you still remember when J2ME was mobile gaming? Glu Mobile was one of the giants of that era and Rovio were bankrupt. "Wait and see" is the smartest way forward IMHO.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
I agree Jakub, smartphones were already well established at the time. In time perhaps but certainly not soon.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games4 years ago
"So they represent a great gaming opportunity that only a fool would ignore."

Too bad the glasses make the wearer look like a fool.

IMO. ; )
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Anthony Gowland Consulting F2P Game Designer, Ant Workshop4 years ago
Too bad the glasses make the wearer look like a fool.
And at one point carrying a mobile phone the size of a brick made you look a twonk as well. This is a prediction about the future, not the current tech.
no one has exactly sat down for an 8 hour gaming binge wearing this
Surely facebook and mobile gaming has shown that 8 hour binge session compatibility is nowhere near required for a successful game?
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
You're right Anthony, their success relies a lot on other factors that isn't hours of binge gaming or other AAA game qualities. But one of their keys to success if this does take off is they need a massive user base for Google Glass for starters, which is obviously something that will surely increase over time. But to what extent? Who knows? Only time will tell.

Google Glass needs that mass market appeal first, in the following years to come it's hard to imagine a billion people wearing the exact same device on their head. People like individuality and it'll need more niche appeal than that, at least with phones and other mobile devices people have choice at this moment in time. Again I'm sure that is something that will come of time.

Imagine if you look around you now and you see hundreds of people walking around wearing the same device on their head. Wouldn't most people find that quite creepy? Sure one day people might sit at home or go travelling and feel like putting on a Google Glass to have a quick 10 minute game. As you say the mass market appeal of any hardware generally increases over time as it gets refined. When people grow comfortable with the idea of pocketing one of these and whipping them out in public, then great stuff it's a 'cool device' and we're onto something.

As Jakub said the best way is to wait and see, it's far too early to predict the success of this in the gaming world, and I'm sure no one will deny it's great potential. However seeing as this idea is still so young it'll be a while before it picks up properly, it's still not cheap yet by any means. I'm interested in Google Glass for other uses, but at this moment in time I'm not too keen on having casual games with ads flashing around and in app purchase reminders in front of my face constantly. I've had enough of those on mobile devices as it is. Not sure how future Google Glass gamers would take that either!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kingman Cheng on 28th November 2013 7:54pm

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Eric Leisy VR Production Designer, Nike4 years ago
The whole conception that these glasses "make you look like a fool" is backward, close minded thinking. Having a phone with a keyboard use to be extremely dorky and not sexy. Then it become standard place, accepted. Having a laptop in university class use to REALLY DORKY, and I remember the days of being one of the only kids who had a laptop and would bring it to class to take notes - laptops were not so long ago considered dorky tools... Go to a University class now - and it's a veritable sea of laptop screens. People get over these things. It often takes less than a generation. People will get over it, and I'm looking forward to having wearable technology. :)
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 4 years ago
I wouldn't say it was backwards per se, I'd say it's quite natural for a lot of people for any emerging technology. Like the old mobile brick phones, people back then thought it looked horrible, and to be honest if you saw people carrying those sort of phones around still you'd probably think it looked horrid too. ;) It's something that will surely change with time but at this moment in time it's not ready to take off for everyday use yet.

Difference is mobile phones have had all this time and it has been refined, looks better, more portable, gone mass market etc. It really is a time thing.

On a different note Eric back in university I still just stuck to pen and paper for notes haha. I always remembered things better if I wrote it down instead of typing, just a personal thing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kingman Cheng on 29th November 2013 10:33am

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Well, people like this clown aren't helping GG win any converts who don't appreciate the tech:

I agree with any property owner who doesn't want them in their place of business. Hey, blame Google for not making more of an effort to reach out and explain what those X-ray specs can and can't do plus people who yes, think they're too damn cool for school or whatever.

That and hell, in NYC we ALREADY have issues with people having their tech stolen right out of their hands. I don't want to even KNOW how bad it's going to get with people dinking around not paying more attention as some fool strolls up to bop them on the noggin and swipe their toy. Of course, they'll get caught quite soon, but try telling that to a street tech thief these days...
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 4 years ago

It seems likely to me that Google Glass, or whatever it turns in to, will not (in the short term, at least) end up as a stand-alone device, but will be more similar to an additional display for the computer in your pocket (still, strangely, known as a "mobile phone"). That makes it no more weird than a Pebble, which had no apparent acceptance problems (except perhaps amongst folks like you).

As for, "Wait and see," that's about the dumbest thing you can do in this business, because it guaranees that, no matter what happens with technology, you will be behind the curve. Even if Google Glass doesn't pan out in any way, shape or form, Glu Mobile will have gained valuable experience from their work with it that's likely to help them even with today's technology, by leading them to think in different and more creative ways.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 4 years ago
Kinect and Google Glass are in the same boat for me. While their non gaming uses are profound (even already) we have not yet managed to solve the problem of controllerless gaming. I'm sure one day we will solve it, but we haven't yet.

I doubt we will anytime soon though.
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance4 years ago

I think the privacy issues are the more concerning here. Inasmuch as privacy doesn't really exist anymore (license scanners/CCTV everywhere etc.), very visible reminders like Google Glass are not going to make the public happy. The Kinect has probably lost Microsoft customers for the same reason, though they seem to be doing just fine regardless.

The other obvious connection between the Kinect and Google Glass is what currently appears to be a limited game potential. The Kinect doesn't really have a killer app making it a must-own and is still somewhat limited to shallow gaming experiences. In the same way, outside of ARGs I'm not sure what Google Glass will be capable of - and unlike the Kinect, where you look like a flailing idiot in the privacy of your own home, you can take Glass in public to humiliate yourself.

However, I know the real problem is that the potential of these technologies has yet to be realized, and the creativity to create that must-have app has not yet be exercised. I am looking forward to what these technologies will bring, albeit with a measure of skepticism.
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