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I-play's David Gosen - Part 2

In the second part of our interview with David Gosen, we discuss how mobile developers can captivate an audience, I-play's launch of Mobile Moments movie clips, and whether it's important to the mobile industry to have 'triple-A' games titles...

The first part of the interview is available to view here. We've talked about the value of allowing a consumer to access a favourite brand away from its original source - the TV show becomes a mobile clip - but there's a real danger that if these extensions are done wrong, the really devalue the brand...
David Gosen

Again, if I use 24: The Mobile Game as an example, we worked with the writers of the TV show when developing the game, so there's a real collaborative approach to game development. That way our development teams and producers really get an insight into the thinking behind the creativity. That kind of collaboration ensures that you get the themed continuity across various platforms. It's essential. Do you think the mobile development community is in a better position to captivate an audience because of the lower entry levels required for mobile gaming compared to home consoles?
David Gosen

2006 is going to be the first year that the unit sales of mobile games exceeds the units sales of console games. Clearly there is a significant revenue difference between those two businesses, but in terms of touch points, in terms of getting your brand in front of consumers and in front of a connected consumer - and by connected I mean mobile connected - there is no better platform. The advantage of mobile is the opportunity to cross collaborate with other revenue generating content.

When we developed Fast and the Furious Tokyo we developed microsites and WAP sites so consumers can surf them, and not only download a 2D game or 3D game, but access wallpaper and ringtones as well. What we'll see is these type of mobile entertainment bundles emerging, that enables us to offer a deeper, richer experience which is good news for the licensor, the consumer and the carriers. It's all about opening a brand to every kind of possible angle - we don't always have the time to access full games or movies, but we can get a five minute fix with a mobile handset.
David Gosen

Our philosophy is about creating nuggets of entertainment. If console gaming is a three course meal, mobile gaming is a snack. A number of companies get this, and a number of companies don't. That's been our philosophy for some considerable time and its these nuggets of entertainment strategy that's also driving a new avenue of business for us - a new strategic shift.

This the movie clips on mobile handsets - can you expand on this? We have teamed up with universal studios to deliver movie clips to mobile. We're going to be bringing the most memorable scenes from Universal's library of blockbusters to mobile phones.
David Gosen

This is a significant first for I-Play, it's a first for Universal Studios, and it's also a first for Hollywood because nobody has done a best-of, clip-based mobile package to date. You'll be able to see one to two minute clips of the best scenes from movies such as Animal House or ET: The Extra Terrestrial. That sort of opportunity to consume clips is again what mobile entertainment is all about. We'll be launching Mobile Moments in the US before Christmas this year.

For us it was a natural evolution because we already had the relationship with Universal, we have our own propriety carrier-grade platform that allows us to host and stream on-demand video to the end user through the carriers. It really is a very pragmatic evolution and a way for us to monetise what I see as a growing clip culture of today's consumers. Just look at the success of You Tube, Google Video and video pod casts and you can see that clip culture is emerging very rapidly.

We see this as a significant opportunity to broaden our credentials, we'll keep driving the mobile games business because it's very important and there is significant growth in it, but really through this evolution we can create a new business model for I-play in the world of on-demand streaming video. And if you can link movie footage with games based on the same movie then you're again expanding the market?
David Gosen

Absolutely. This is very much the first step in the strategy and we'll be making a number of further announcements over the coming months. The other thing that you'll see from I-Play over the coming months is a number of Java and Brew-based applications that contain this ability to download and stream video into those application packages. You also mentioned that original IP is important to I-Play. Obviously with brands, consumers know what they're going to get. But how do you convince a consumer to try something they've never heard of, or have no knowledge of?
David Gosen

You need to make sure that you're tapping into the rich vein of popularity that exists and you have to understand what drives consumer purchase and what drives the experience on mobile.

The best example of that is our title My Dog. If you see My Dog on a phone deck, you know what it is. With 50 per cent of downloads being from a female consumer, titles like this need to speak directly to the audience via the name of the game and what's on screen. Then you've got to ensure that the quality of that game is incredibly good. We know that there are two main ways that people buy games. Firstly, through surfing on their mobile, and secondly through a friends recommendation. And that's the way, virally, that we continue to see original IP do well. Do you think original IP will ever do well enough to penetrate the charts? The majority of the top ten downloaded games are classic retro or licensed titles...
David Gosen

I think it can. We've had a number of games up there in the charts. What you'll always find is that there will be a balance. We're in a better position because we're balanced, and we always will be. Licenses have a critical role in business - they're high profile, event driven and have huge recognition. But we also understand from a creativity and a margin stand point, that we need to drive original IP. There is room for both but you'll have to work hard to maintain the quality of these experiences. Will we ever see an original IP that will become associated with mobile gaming? We have characters like Mario, Pokemon and Sonic that symbolise home and handheld consoles, but no mobile-specific IP?
David Gosen

A killer app that will change consumers minds about mobile gaming overnight? I'm not convinced we need that. It would be great if it happened but I think what we're seeing already is over 150 million people playing games on mobile phones. You can't argue with that. We shouldn't get hung up as an industry that we don't have this single killer title. Our job is to take great quality games, give them a simple but challenging experience that's designed purely for mobiles. And that's the way this market will continue to grow.

David Gosen is CEO of I-play. Interview by Matt Martin

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