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Big Point to Prove

Bigpoint's Philip Reisberger on money, tablets and going beyond social networks

Bigpoint have had a good year. Numbers are up, with the 200 million users reported in June now well north of a quarter billion. Battlestar Galactica has proven to be the company's biggest ever game, and the publisher's headcount at its Hamburg headquarters has risen above 800, thanks to some useful acquisitions.

The team has been understandably bullish, claiming that EA doesn't know how to monetise, and suggesting that what many see as the archdemon of free-to-play, paid for advantages, are the way for companies to develop their business.

At Evolve in London last week, Bigpoint's Philip Reisberger was on hand to reveal some of the company's secrets for success, plus some of its less conventional ideas.

GamesIndustry.bizSo the big topic on the events circuit at the moment seems to be the push to mobile and tablet...
Philip Reisburger

It's the new Facebook. [laughs]

GamesIndustry.bizExactly - the topic that's everywhere. You mentioned that you're moving Farmerama to tablets, is that part of a bigger push in that direction for Bigpoint?
Philip Reisburger

We totally believe in mobile. In mobile casual, mobile social, whatever you want to call it. I personally, and the same is true for Heiko (Hubertz) and the rest of the management team, we see this huge opportunity for mobile.

My predecessor (Nick Parker, speaking before Philip at Evolve) who showed some of the numbers in terms of how the revenue source from people who once paid via subscription has moved to free to play, even in the mobile space. That's exactly what we see happening, for us it's just a logical consequence of going mobile.

Farmerama is just the first.

GamesIndustry.bizCan you tell us how many tablet games you have planned for the coming year?
Philip Reisburger

I can't tell you the exact number, but it's going to be a lot more than just five or six. Mobile is one of our key areas of growth.

GamesIndustry.bizIs it an area where you'll be debuting new IP?

"I like what Facebook, Zynga, mobile are doing - they're educating people to play."

Philip Reisburger

The real key for success is...well there are two ways of doing it. One is to utilise and manage your existing userbase to a different platform - but the other one, real growth, is having unique concepts. So no, we're not just porting or copying our games, we are really working on developing totally new games for mobile.

GamesIndustry.bizDo you think that the PC browser game market has plateaued now? Is mobile cannibalising it?
Philip Reisburger

I'm not really differentiating too much, really. When you have a user, he or she has a certain amount of time that they spend on playing. For us, if you compare the start of Seafight five and half years ago, no one would have considered that we'd have the people we do now playing games.

For me, I like what Facebook, Zynga, mobile are doing - they're educating people to play. What I like a lot is the fact that when we were young the gamer was a guy locked in his attic or bedroom. Now you see people playing everywhere.

So I don't see this peaking, I see it growing, maybe even accelerating because a few years ago we had maybe ten million gamers, now we have a billion gamers. So I think that there's huge potential. What we really see is that the quality of people's expectations are really rising.

People who really liked the one click games a year ago - they've been there, done that, got the t-shirt. What they really want now, these casual gamers, is something more complex, but still social or casual. That's why we see rising development budgets and that sort of thing.

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