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GDC: Achieving success at the touch of a button - Gamevil

One-button gaming can reap huge rewards

Korean-based mobile game creators Gamevil spoke at length to GDC attendees about the benefits, both in terms of market potential and increased revenue returns, of adopting the one-button gameplay model.

The company has achieved significant commercial success in Korea with a number of its one-button games, including Skipping Stone, which was subsequently released in Western territories through I-Play and picked up numerous mobile game of the year awards.

Commenting on several other one-button titles which have become million sellers in the Korean mobile gaming market, Gamevil's president Kyu C. Lee suggested that mobile game developers could benefit greatly from adopting the same creative model.

"I personally think that one-handed gameplay is really important for success of mobile games," Lee commented, suggesting that people play mobile games on the subway, whilst on the move, or in schools - ideal situations for the simplicity of one-handed gameplay, which he maintains is ideally suited to the increasingly smaller mobile handsets.

Lee claims that the success of one-button gaming, particularly in Korean markets, although increasingly in Western regions, stems from the simplicity of the gameplay mechanic, which can easily be demonstrated to new users and spread quickly through word of mouth. The ease of access to the gameplay will open the games up to a much wider audience or, as Lee phrased it, offer "games your grandmother can play".

For developers however, there are plenty of financial benefits too, because one-button games are easier and quicker to develop. Skipping Stone took just 6 months to develop, and Gamevil's other one-button titles took an average of ten months, the most labour-intensive factor being the balancing of the essential timing element, on which most of the titles are based.

The cost of the games in Korea is fixed at around USD 3.50, but, as shown by the company's innovative one-button RPG title, Path of a Warrior, can reach as much as USD 10. With minimal production time and reduced development costs due to the simple nature of the titles, Lee stressed that, "you can get a return on your investment pretty quickly with these games."

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