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Mobile Gaming's "Steroids Scandal" Discussed at NextGen + Mobile Games Forum Held During E3 Expo

Octane CEO Sameer Bhatia: "Powerful growth has its own problems as mobile game porting costs now exceed the original cost of developing and publishing games."

(LOS ANGELES, CA) - During this year's annual E3 Expo, Octane Technologies CEO Sameer Bhatia reported how the need to port games to a myriad of handsets is proving to be the Achilles heel of the mobile gaming industry. Speaking at the NextGen + Mobile Games Forum held on May 19th in Los Angeles, Bhatia addressed a crowd of attendees including executives from leading game publishers including IN-FUSIO, I-Play, RealNetworks, Walt Disney, and InfoSpace on what he labels "the steroids scandal of the mobile gaming world".

Increasing handset and game complexity creates spiraling porting costs

"The most neglected problem in this booming industry is the high costs of game porting - the process of adapting a mobile game to all available handsets," said Bhatia, whose firm ports games for leading publishers Gameloft, Superscape, and RealNetworks, amongst others. Mobile game developers face the tremendous challenge of how to get their games to work on over 250 device platforms serviced by more than 80 different mobile operators and in numerous languages. As Bhatia described, "game publishers develop a game from start to finish, but only for a basic handset, oftentimes a Nokia Series 40 or Series 60 phone. Of course, no carrier will promote a game until it works on the majority of handsets they are selling in the market. Therefore, the game is not marketable until it is 'ported' - adjusted to work properly - on all the carrier's handsets."

With hundreds of publishers each offering a host of titles, carriers only choose the best games that are compatible with a wide variety of handsets. As games and handsets both are getting increasingly complex, porting is becoming increasingly difficult.

Porting costs overtake original development costs

Bhatia's case study, entitled "Mobile Game Porting: Analysis and Solutions", highlighted several useful statistics on the topic. The average publisher spends $5000 per port it executes in-house, not including added costs of language translation. If a publisher wants to place a single game on 50 devices in five languages, it can face a cost of a half-million dollars or more. Not surprisingly, the expense of porting games in-house can far exceed the cost of actually developing and producing the original game. According to Bhatia, this problem is not widely acknowledged in the industry.

Outsourcing a viable option - but buyer beware

Bhatia discussed an option many leading publishers are choosing in order to bring the economics of porting back to earth: outsourcing. However, he cautioned executives in the audience from rushing into the arms of any low-cost porting house they can find. "You'll find plenty of companies in far-away places that will eagerly take your porting projects, especially if you are equally desperate to hand them over. Unfortunately, most don't have the ability to deliver builds that will meet the carriers' quality standards."

Bhatia acknowledged that porting is ultimately a challenge with no easy answer. "There are no automated tools that do the job for you, porting in-house is expensive, and outsourcing to porting vendors has its own risks." For mobile game executives choosing to outsource, Bhatia offered his five favorite tips:

1. Know your vendors

2. Start slow and small

3. Negotiate out-clauses in your contracts

4. Pay for performance

5. And, in case all goes poorly, ensure you're doing business with a US company

About Octane:

Octane is the fastest-growing porting provider in the mobile gaming industry, and the only firm that leverages offshore development with onshore management. Octane was founded on the belief that successful companies benefit from solutions that transcend national boundaries, conventional practices, and traditional thinking. Leveraging its global customer service, software, and business processing operations, Octane delivers all the benefits of offshore outsourcing while removing the pain of managing teams around the world.

The firm has worked with Gameloft, Superscape, and RealNetworks to port mobile games; Musicland to launch the American Idol and Jay-Z branded cell phones; a San Francisco marketing agency that manages online promotions for clients including Boeing, AT&T Wireless, and Dole Foods; the largest US retailer for the Dish Network and DirecTV; and a number of Silicon Valley startups.

Octane is fueling Business without BordersTM. For more information please contact: Vijay Chattha/ VSC PR / 415-305-6041 /

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