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The Flight Deck

Firemint's Alexandra Peters on how the Melbourne company is building its original IP iPhone business

GamesIndustry.biz Is there an issue with visibility though? That's the trade-off with any open platform, the ability to create an impact with lots of others trying to do the same. How do you get around that?
Alexandra Peters

Well, we're really interested in building the Firemint brand - not to the extent that it's intrusive, because the game comes first - but we do want people to know, when they're playing Flight Control and Real Racing that they're Firemint games.

So when we announce our next titles people will think back to the two previous games they've seen, have nigh expectations, and support our games. It's a double-edged sword, in that you have this opportunity to build something special - and we're really about focusing on just a few high-quality titles rather then pumping out lots of average games - so we're staking our fortunes on building our brand.

We've been really lucky with the recognition we've been getting - we're so fortunate with the community support.

GamesIndustry.biz As a consumer it's still a little bit tricky trying to sort out which are the good games, and which are just a waste of time, but I guess it will settle down over time?
Alexandra Peters

We think there's a huge word-of-mouth effect with iPhone games in particular. People play the games and will tell their friends, and that's something that we think about very carefully and how we can support that?

GamesIndustry.biz So how has Flight Control performed overall?
Alexandra Peters

Well, we can say that it's had over 2 million sales - some developers announce numbers and say "downloads" and that's a mix of free and paid - but this one's had 2 million sales. I can also say that Real Racing has also been a great success for us, both commercially and critically. The feedback we're getting from players is superb - we couldn't be happier with it.

We also put out a free version of Real Racing, called Real Racing GTi, which has a limited amount of content - that's also been a great success, and has had 5 million downloads, and also led to an increase in sales of the full game.

GamesIndustry.biz What's the optimum budget for an iPhone game, do you think - or even a maximum, given the business model and visibility issues?
Alexandra Peters

I think the days where you can do something quite simple, and do it on a small budget, are probably gone. These days with the amount of apps that are out there, and the increasing number of games coming out every day - and some of the really high-end developers who are now getting into it - I think if you're going to make an iPhone game and you want it to be commercially successful, you have to invest in it.

That's certainly something that we're doing - we're spending a lot of time getting our next titles right. That's what we do anyway, but I wouldn't encourage people to bet small and expect to win big.

GamesIndustry.biz How long will it be before there's a really solid way to sort the wheat from the chaff?
Alexandra Peters

I guess that's another thing we're seeing with the App Store - it's constantly evolving. Apple tweaks things - like the introduction of the top-grossing apps - so you can see they're thinking about it and improving things as they go.

Alexandra Peters is community manager at Firemint. Interview by Phil Elliott begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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Phil Elliott

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